Spare the Rod


Spare the Rod


Tracing the reactions to the ways of the whip, of thelash, on to thebelt
The shoes, the tap of the wrist, or backhand with an open fist
The stuff of which good citizens are made, orders obeyed, wild horses tamed
Cimarron, spurs dug in and tightened reins
The moment at which the body and mind are shaped and reshaped
Moulded and framed away from boldness and stubbornness
too much independence
Or maybe a cut-eye, a tired whine or hungry cry, so as to come out, by and by
Unspoiled, tightly coiled, unwild, a beaten child

Spared no rod or tamarind stick, guidelines of welts and bruises and split lips
Saved through sore backsides unable to sit for more than 10 seconds at a time
Or maybe more shame than pain, results more or less the same
Like meat well seasoned, with spanks, so as not to forget please and thanks
Keep from spoiling, to be useful at a later date, well brought up, manipulate

With a curriculum of fear, intimidate, slap on a little low self-esteem and self-hate
Licks and blows to make young ones shiver and quake, get meek like cattle or sheep
Tanned hide, don’t spare the rod or the cattle prod, build an iron constitution
Through the standing offer of a branding iron style of punishing, and contusions
Break a wilful disposition, assaults in a residential school type mission
Or prostrate on a post in a pose from kunta kinte, spare no mercy

After a sea of tears and tribulation of cargo hold and sea graves and limbo
Brought low, after a time when children were a joy to hear sing
As well as behold, nurture, pat on the back and hold
To play freely in the savannah and explore and learn the elders lore
Through proverbs and griot’s words
Before the lash and the rod of correction and branding burns
Before the built-in guilt and dull eyes and ice grills, the numbness, callousness of senses killed
Groomed for prisons filled with broken vessels of lost ancestors, greatness forgotten
Potential beaten out and locked down, trust, hope and courage spoiled and gone rotten

Courage, meaning the bravery it takes to believe in oneself enough to make mistakes
Without fear of pinches, random cuffs, and rough shoves, cuts and scrapes
Courage to persevere in a world with enough joy in one’s soul to survive a few bad breaks
To believe without flinching and wincing at every instance of human contact
That not everyone is a bully or wolf in sheep’s clothing or snake
Courage, meaning faith and enough of a safety net to trust going solo
To give birth to oneself, yere wolo, to be brave and respectful, with valuesNot just well-behaved, adhered to through the threat of violence and brutality
But over seasons to reason, apprentice, protected as a protégé
To peacefully piece together a sense of ethics and morality

The same courage it takes to resist the descent from irritation to anger to rage to madness
That could see a father shake his own infant baby into concussion, coma, senseless
Kids made into non-understanding victims of someone who so strangely says and shows
How much they love them by hitting them, a lesson that could only teach them what?To learn that the best lessons are taught by pain and scars and lesions
To in turn school others in hard knocks, cycle vicious, grow up to raise their own kids
With kicks and box replacing hugs and kisses, firm words, encouragement, safe space, and a
Model of patience and self-restraint, spare the rod
Love the child, created in divine image, my God
Spare the rod.

© nth digri


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