UNSAID – Thomas McColl


As a child,
I was always having imaginary conversations –
the kind I’d really want to have –
with my mum, my dad,
my so-called friends,
my teachers, complete strangers.

By telling them what I really thought –
albeit inside my head –
it somehow helped to release the tension.

One time, the school bully, Darren,
saw me whispering to myself.
‘That’s the first sign of madness,’ he said, laughing.

‘What is, saying what I actually think of people like you?’
I replied, with a sneer –
except I didn’t, of course: I just thought it.

Even when Darren then punched me in the ribs,
I didn’t say what I thought –
of him, or what he’d just done to me.

But then, to be fair, Darren, with the punch,
wasn’t saying what he thought of me either –
and, let’s face it, didn’t need to.

And nor did Dad.
Always locked away in his own world,
he kept himself – and me – at a distance.

‘Dad, I’m being bullied at school,’ I said,
as I got a consoling arm around my shoulder –
except I didn’t, of course: I just thought it.


Thomas McColl has had poems published recently in magazines such as Atrium, The Journal, The Poetry Village, Riggwelter and Runcible Spoon. His first collection, Being With Me Will Help You Learn, was published by Listen Softly London Press in 2016, and his second collection, Grenade Genie, is due to be published in April 2020 by Fly on the Wall Press.

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