Experience the Wealth of Fabulous Writing
A TRAIN HE COULDN’T ESCAPE
I saw him on the South West Trains to Richmond.
He looked nineteen years old. He wore white sneakers,
saggy trousers, a faded jean jacket. I noticed how he slouched
in his seat. All was quiet until he shouted:
You’re fat! Fat boy! Fat boy!
I hate you.
You’re stupid, bitch. Fat bitch.
A school girl with a bun of bleach blonde hair
smirked. A cool college lad stared
at the chaotic clamor.
Twenty minutes later, Faaaaat booooy! Bitch
could still be heard down the rows of seats.
His green headphones were pushed tightly into his ears.
I could hear the distant beats of his music,
but I wondered if there was a louder song playing in his head—
a song on repeat—when someone said to him, I hate you,
from when someone told him he was a Fat boy!
My greatest fear was that he was screaming
those words at himself.
I wish I’d had the courage enough to tell him
he was a loved boy, precious boy, important boy.
But he leapt off the train too quickly
still riding a life-long train he couldn’t escape.
By Janell R Ward
A Train He Couldn't Escape by Janell Ward Copyright Reward Publishing 2020
I. For the child soldiers used as bombs
When you strapped that thick black vest around your tiny ribcage,
When you pulled tight the straps to hold it in place,
You didn’t know it was filled with bombs.
But your big brother knew,
yet his wrists were tightly tied behind his back,
turning raw from the frantic way he tried to twist his way out
to save you. But he couldn’t save you.
And he watched you run, as free as the wind
across a field of thirsty grass, he watched you race
to catch the breeze of morning
before the cotton clouds could cover the silvery sun,
before the red explosion could bury your little smile.
II. For the child soldiers forced to kill
When you were handed the heavy rifle
and trained to load the bullets,
you didn’t know you would be forced to press the cold metal
upon your mother’s soft temple.
You saw the last tear that streamed from her eye.
You thought maybe the next kill would be easier.
But when you pointed straight the long barrel,
when you peered through the iron scope,
when your fragile, thin fingers pulled the trigger
you didn’t know that wrapped under
the black mask was your father.
You were told that you must break your bond with them.
But it wasn’t your fault, and your mother
will always love you.
Your father is not ashamed of you.
And when you walk into paradise,
their arms will open wide to your innocence.
By: Janell Ward
Little Warriors by Janell Ward Copyright Reward Publishing 2020
for those who inflict self-harm
She came into the café with her mother.
She was blonde, pretty, sixteen perhaps, somewhat thin.
I do not remember what she ordered, but I remember her left arm,
and how she did not flinch when I sat her drink next to it.
She had run out of space; there was no visible skin,
only cuts, all the same length—about three inches—
zigged-zagged up her arm, to the top,
where most young girls have golden tans.
None of the lines crossed. They were carefully placed,
as if each one was protected, precious in its ability to ease panic.
Some of the carvings looked old, gray like a decaying corpse.
Others were recent, scabbed over, maybe bleeding this morning.
I am not sure how far the lacerations extended,
but they dipped under the short-sleeved shirt on her bicep,
making their way to her heart.
By:Janell R Ward
Cutting Pretty by Janell Ward Copyright Reward Publishing 2020