Tormented (A Father's Poem)

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The author writes: “Our son was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in the seventh grade. I wrote this Pantoum to capture a snapshot of what he was like before he became ill as well as the initial period of his mental illness. Writing the poem was also therapeutic for me. Thank God, Tim’s mental health has improved.”

A willful, stubborn little boy 
I wear shorts and a T-shirt. 
He pedals furiously for the street. 
I block his path.

I wear shorts and a T-shirt. 
He loudly protests. 
I block his path. 
He attempts an end run.

He loudly protests.
He doesn’t understand. 
He attempts an end run. 
I understand.

He doesn’t understand. 
Why do they throw batteries at me? 
I understand. 
Why does the teacher yell at me?

Why do they throw batteries at me? 
I’m sorry, my son. 
Why does the teacher yell at me? 
It’s not your fault, my son.

I’m sorry, my son. 
The butterflies scare me! 
It’s not your fault, my son. 
Mommy’s home! I see her!

The butterflies scare me! 
They won’t hurt you. 
Mommy’s home! I see her! 
I know. It was a hallucination.

They won’t hurt you. 
Dad, I’m scared. 
I know. It was a hallucination. 
Dad, when will I be normal?

Dad, I’m scared. 
He pedaled furiously for the street. 
Dad, when will I be normal? 
A willful, stubborn little boy.

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