Seahorses

This poem is about how things were when I was at primary school. I’ve changed the name of the teacher but he could be one of thousands. We no longer see his harsh methods as either acceptable or effective but when people were brought up in such times and did as was expected of them did it make them bad people? I don’t really think so.

Mr O’Brien
Sir to you and me
Had a strap

A collection of straps
Different colours
Different lengths and widths
All stung outstretched hands
When Mr O’Brien spoke
Everybody listened
And he drank warm milky coffee
With skin on
And he had seahorses

Mr. O’Brien

Stood straighter than straight
He had two pens for marking
Red and green
Hard and soft
Red crosses stung hands
Green a chance to correct
Good! Meant good!
In any colour

Mr. O’Brien
Taught right from wrong
Imposed his discipline
With fairness
In an old fashioned
Outdates, discredited way
Mr. O’Brien was never wrong
And he drank warm milky coffee
With skin on
And he had seahorses

Mr O’Brien
Taught what he knew
Knew what he taught
Held his beliefs firmly
Led by example
Cared deeply
Seldom showed it

Jack O’Brien
Was an old man
With steely eyes
Age set free a thin
Wry smile
And bent his once
Rod straight back
And his hands shook
As he spoke
and he spoke of the past
and the pupils he taught

When Jack O’Brien spoke
Everybody listened
No more straps
And he drank warm milky coffee
With skin on
But the seahorse
Were gone