Back to school so this month I’ll be looking back at some of my many school poems.



it was that dreaded day

the city health department was at our school

everyone was to get their shot

polio mumps something like that

a swab on the arm and pow


some coddled by teachers

to the library where the nurses

had set up stations at several tables

no privacy for the pow stung moment

kids came out pale

clutching upper arms

some limping

some had to be carried out

the mutter before added to the restlessness

the needle

we were told

was soooo long

it hit your arm bones

sometimes it broke off

got lost in your skin

could worm into your brain   your heart

if you fainted

they’d give you needles

in your feet to make sure you weren’t dead

one boy died last year

one girl got a rash and had to be put down

it was horrible

the principal showed up

this has to stop you kids 

there’s nothing to it – it doesn’t hurt

do you want the nurses to think 

our school is full of cry babies

so the rest of us bit our lips

looked away from each other

wanted to plug our ears

not to hear

the ouches from behind the door

inching forward

I hoped we were so slow

there wouldn’t be time to get to all of us

that they’d run out of needles

the door opened I was pushed in

over here a nurse smiled

you aren’t scared of me are you

I shook my head no

roll up your sleeve

she held my arm wiped it

asked if knew who was in the picture

at the other side of the library

I looked over the queen


stung while I wasn’t looking

now that didn’t hurt did it


hold this till the bleeding stops

a bit of gauze where I had been stung

I held it and left

felt nothing much at all

except that tiny sting of disappointment

NPG x37877; Queen Elizabeth II by Dorothy Wilding

The ring of truth is more important than the actual truth. I do have vague memories of getting that shot, of the restlessness in the class, even of the rumours that someone had felt the needle in their arm bone.

The rest is manipulated fact and fiction. Sure some kids cried but none actually fainted. We were usually sort of happy to have an excuse to cut a class as this all took time and we’d find ways to make that wait longer to avoid school work not the needle.

buried the dog buried my homework under here somewhere

Over my years in school I had needles at various times for various things – polio, flu & other stuff that the GP didn’t need to do. There was no controversy about the inoculations either, at least not at our classroom level. We did have to have a permission slip signed, but if you forgot it you still got the shot. Or maybe that permission slip was for the TB test, that was even worse with what seemed like dozens of needles spring-loaded to bounce in and out of the skin.

Public schools in Sydney had photo portraits of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip – government issued I think. In one school I recall huge framed ones at the top of the main stairs when we’d go it. Some of the class rooms had smaller ones.

oldshoes old shoes new term

Did a nurse ever have me glance over at those pictures? I don’t think so, but it struck me as a suitable ruse for one to use when she had to. I don’t know if the nurses really that much trouble with us kids. It did take a couple of teachers to keep us moving along and quiet.


October 10-12 – attending – Gratitude Roundup http://www.torontogratitude.org


October 19 – feature – Cabaret Noir – Pinebow pineflyerhttps://www.facebook.com/events/1651892755035275/

November 1-30 – participating – NaNoWriMo 2014 – http://nanowrimo.org



perfect for homework

me reading Needle: http://www.rogerstv.com/page.aspx?lid=237&rid=16&sid=2923&gid=62188

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