Other Voices
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Other Voices

The Bad Son

Once upon a time…

Photo by DEVN on Unsplash

Once upon a time
There was a Bad Son.

He knew he was a Bad Son
Because his family told him.
Not in those words,
Not directly,
But he knew.

Bad Sons get ordered
To get out of the car
When they’ve been mouthy kids.
Left on the curb
On a street they don’t know
While their fathers drive off and disappear.
But when their father
Drives back around the block
Even a Bad Son
Will promise not to be a mouthy kid any more.
At least until
He has a car and a map.

Good sons achieved things in school.
Good sons went to high school award shows
To get called up on stage.
Bad Sons graduated #11.
Nobody calls you up on stage
So your family can applaud and be proud
When you graduate #11.
So they don’t. And they aren’t.

Good sons have friends.
Bad Sons pretend to
So that their mother is happy.
But when mothers throw
Surprise birthday parties,
No one shows up
To a Bad Son’s.

Good sons have jobs
That proud fathers can boast of.
Bad Sons have jobs
That take ten minutes to explain,
By which time
No one is listening,
Especially not proud fathers
Who actually are not.

It’s the fault of the Bad Son, really.
Always the fault
Of the Bad Son.

When I was growing up, my parents always made sure that,
if anything bad happened,
they would take the time
to sit down with me
to help me understand
how it was all
my fault.

Okay, I eventually figured out that wasn’t their intention.

They were trying to help me figure out what actions I could take to prevent bad things happening in the future, by taking responsibility beforehand.

Good intentions.

But my first reflex is still to figure out where I screwed up.





A sanctuary for orphaned poems and prose.

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Jack Herlocker

Jack Herlocker

Husband & retiree. Developer, tech writer, & IT geek. I fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches. Occasionally do weird & goofy things.

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