Ann-Marie Spittle


I had a case today
With a mad man
Who claimed all middle-aged women
Were advantaged over him
They used their wiles
Their eyes
Their smiles
To get their way

And then the penny dropped

It had a long way to go
As it was from the past
Covered in moss
I thought immovable

The face was different
But the words rippled
Forward and back
Gaining momentum

“You sxxg
You bxxxh
You piece of skirt
You sxxt”

The training NCO was such a gent,
“If you can understand those words you’re not a lady”

So many pretended
But it was just an excuse for plain prejudice
Grin and bear it
Bear what –
The degradation by his rules?
Fxxk that!
So I rebelled in a conformist sort of way
And was told I had an attitude
The names changed to dyke and lesbo

But I’d digressed and came back to reality

Realised the answer to my pain
Was sat before me
The man had problems
As did the others in my cloistered past
But I thought myself the cause
When it was his past that had made him
And I realised I was one of many
Who he saw the face of his tormentor in
And breathed a sigh of relief
That I learned
Before it took over me for good

Author’s Note: I wrote this poem several weeks ago after taking minutes for a disciplinary concerning a student who had held a kitchen knife up to another students face during a culinary arts lesson. Things he said during the hearing reminded me of my experiences during training, and various postings.

The training NCO mentioned was found to have been harassing female soldiers at several bases he was stationed at, and had a few other problems. So the Intelligence Corps in their wisdom sent him to their mixed sex training base. He made one of my female friend’s life hell – above and beyond what was expected, and she remembered it long after we were posted. When she met him again and he tried to be friendly to her she blanked him and walked off, saying to me that the sight of him made her upset. She couldn’t believe he had the gall to try and be matey to her.

This poem is what that meeting with the student made me remember. I’ve edited out the bad words. Some of which I’d never heard before. After this I have a slight inkling of what you mean by memories intruding on your everyday life.

Ann-Marie: March 23, 2006