Here’s a poem I wrote for the opening of the new children’s section at Bungay Library a few years back. Someone asked for it this week, and I thought it would be nice to have it back out in the world. Enjoy, kids.
Boden and The Library
Most would say that Boden was
a naughty child and that’s because
he never did his daily chores –
he’d throw his dinner on the floor
or fill the sugar bowl with salt
then laugh and say: “it’s not my fault”
and let his sister take the blame;
the boy was keen on violent games
and scribbled words I shan’t repeat
upon his little brother’s sheets;
he spat and scratched the neighbour’s car
(a sleek and sporty Jaguar)
stuck stickers on remembrance wreaths;
and never ever brushed his teeth;
he terrorised the village fogeys
smeared their corgis with his bogeys;
let his baby cousin play
in the kittens’ litter tray;
and once he even did a wee
in his teacher’s cup of tea.
Boorish Boden, not quite eight
and seemingly stuffed full of hate.
The oik! You cry, The little yob
that sticky-fingered potty-gob!
Why, lock him in a dingy cell
and throw the key into a well!
But hold on there, calm down kid,
you only know the half of it
you see, a child is not born bad
a lot depends on mum and dad.
And Boden’s weren’t like yours or mine
they called him Boden – warning sign
and seemed to think that parenting
meant buying your kids the latest thing.
So Boden and his siblings dressed
in nothing but the very best
and passed their weekends in the mall –
their parents spent but that was all.
They never played or joked with them
or tickled them or spoke with them
they never showed them how to cook
or taught them songs or read them books.
Mum did nothing when at home
but fiddle with her massive phone
and Dad dreamed dreams of cars and sat
while telly made his son a brat.
And it could well have stayed that way
if Boden, walking home one day,
hadn’t stopped quite suddenly
outside his local library.
A Library! thought the little lout,
I’ll pop in here and muck about
I’ve heard about these boring dumps
they’re grey and dull and smell like trumps
where squares and swots all come to learn
but something tells me books will burn!
So with a wild and heinous grin
Boden boldly marched right in.
And there he stood with gaping jaw
because behind that library door
was not a room of swots and farts
but vibrant books with brilliant art
he reached for one intent to rip
but on it was a pirate ship
and pirates, well, we’re all agreed
are great, so he sat down to read.
And Boden on that little chair
was whisked away right out of there
to escapades with peg-legged swine
he could almost smell the brine
and hear the sea and feel the sand
running through his tiny hands.
For the first time in his spoilt life
he wasn’t bored, and that was nice.
And so he came back every day
and stories whisked him far away
on dragon backs, enchanted trains
on broomsticks, magic cars and planes
to desert islands, ancient forts
to dragons, Gruffalos and storks
to knights and fights in crumbling towers
and there he sat for hours and hours.
Then Boden, once so mean and cruel,
began to make new friends at school
no longer did he bite and kick
or muck around and play cruel tricks.
And though his useless mum and dad
didn’t change, he wasn’t sad
because the boy had been set free
by his local library.