Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


The Pedagogy of Conflict

I

When I was a child,
I learnt to lie.

When I was a child
my parents said that sometimes,
lives are protected
by an undetected
light lie of
deception

When I was a child,
I learnt to lie.

Now, I am more than twenty five
and I’m alive
because I’ve lied
and I am lying still.

Sometimes,
it’s the only way of living.

 

II

When I was a child
I learnt that I could stay alive
by obeying certain
rules:

let your anger cool before you
blossom bruises on your brother’s shoulder;

always show your manners at the table;

always keep the rules and never question;

never mention certain things to certain people;

never doubt the reasons behind
legitimate aggression;

if you compromise or humanise
you must still even out the score;

and never open up the door.
Never open up the door.
Never, never, never open up the blasted door.

When I was a child,
I learnt that I could stay alive
by obeying certain rules.
Never open up the door.

 

III

When I was a child,
I learnt to count to five
one, two, three, four, five.
but these days, I’ve been counting lives, so I count

one life
one life
one life
one life
one life

because each time
is the first time
that that life
has been taken.

Legitimate Target
has sixteen letters
and one
long
abominable
space
between
two
dehumanising
words.

Credit


“The Pedagogy of Conflict” Originally published in Sorry for your Troubles (Canterbury Press, 2013). Copyright © 2013 by Pádraig Ó Tuama. Reprinted with the permission of the poet.

Author


Pádraig Ó Tuama

Pádraig Ó Tuama is the author of Sorry for Your Troubles (Canterbury Press, 2013). From 2014-2019, Ó Tuama was the leader of the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization. He lives in Ireland.

Date Published: 2019-02-27

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/pedagogy-conflict