Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem- lessons October 25, 2013

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:21 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

When my dad went to school

he knew the Brother would beat him.

The ruler would rap down across

his small knuckles

once for every spelling mistake.

He knew he’d always make a mistake.

He knew he’d be beaten.

It didn’t make him study,

it just made him drag his feet

on the way to school,

meant education was painful

meant inadequacy

and brutality

were part of every day.

It didn’t make him speed up

that he’d be whipped

for tardiness


During lessons,

he watched boys fly

across the room

propelled by the fury

of the Christian Brothers

who didn’t understand

much about children,



or the golden rule.

Dad kept his head down,

nursed sore

knuckles and learned

how not to treat children.



Happy Birthday to my dad, who celebrates his 99th birthday today!

One more year until the official greeting from the Queen!

PS. Dad attended parochial school in Montreal in the 1920s.


15 Responses to “poem- lessons”

  1. Joel Says:

    Happy Birthday to your dad, Shawn! I’m glad he not only survived that horrible environment, but clearly overcame it and became a great father. God Bless you.

  2. john Says:

    I went to a high school taught by the Christian Brothers albeit generations after your dad. But even in the late 60s and early 70s there was evidence of this. It’s sad, because it mars the memories I have of some of the Christian Brothers who remain to this day role models for me, even though I have gone on to leave the church for ‘greener’ pastures.

    • Yes, I’m sure there were many dedicated brothers who loved their calling and made a difference. How horrible for them that the others gave such a black name to the order.

  3. congratulations to your dad, it’s not everybody who can live so long.

  4. Wow. 99. How lucky you are. Great poem and you obviously love him a lot.

  5. This is deep. Makes the terminology Christian Brothers an oxymoron. I’m so glad your Dad survived this horrible abuse and lives a healthy, whole, caring compassionate life today. Happy 99th Birthday to your wonderful Dad!!

  6. kiwiskan Says:

    I remember at my primary school we had a sadistic teacher who used to take a run across the room so he would be able to bring his strap down harder on small hands. It was not only the brothers who were brutal back then…

    • Oh wow. That’s horrible. A lot of sexual abuse in residential schools was perpetrated by the (un)Christian Brothers as we’ve seen in the news the last few years. Dad said he didn’t see that (they were a day school), but he saw a lot of violence.

  7. I love how your poems have stories behind them.

  8. toad (chris jensen) Says:

    Reblogged this on tot123itsme.

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