“Sticks and stones may break my bones
but words will never hurt me.”
—A Maxim for Children
Poor Charlie felt he had the right
to be as hateful as he might;
that’s freedom of expression.
He travelled with the savvy smart,
was good with words and graphic art;
they polished his aggression.
It’s not as if he didn’t know
his wit dished out a hurtful blow,
such was his intention.
He called it satire, an old trick
of literary rhetoric
to mask his condescension.
“Watch your mouth,” his father said,
but Charlie self-expressed instead;
wise warnings were ignored.
His righteousness, he came to think,
with drafting pen and colored ink
more potent than a sword.
Those on the receiving end
of Charlie’s penchant to offend
stewed in this juice.
A self-expression more inclined
toward the body than the mind
The awful consequences came
in retribution with a claim
on Charlie’s head.
Aggression had begotten more
aggression, evening the score.
Now Charlie’s dead.
“Sticks and stones
may break my bones,”
still rings the schoolyard cry,
“but words will never hurt…”
we also still assert,
and that… is just a lie.