portion of the artwork for Mather Schneider's poetry

The Bully
Mather Schneider

In third grade
us kids were given a piece of paper
to teach us about metaphors.
On the paper were written things like:

“________ is as green as grass.”


“It was as hot as ________.”

We were to fill in the blanks.
At the end of the page we were to invent our
own metaphors completely from scratch.

For my own metaphor, I wrote:
“Tony Posino smells as bad as a garbage can.”

Tony Posino was a big kid in our class
who liked to beat up other kids and threaten us
and steal our stuff
and it was true he smelled
like a garbage can.

I turned in my paper
and later got a note from the teacher.
He took me out of class
and had a talk with me.
He told me that was a terrible thing to say about another human being
that I should have respect for people
that others didn’t have it as good as I did.
He said I could not go through life with that mentality
and my parents should have taught me better.

He really knew how
to lay it on a kid.
I felt so bad I cried.
I thought I was an evil person who would
never have any friends in my whole life
and never know the meaning
of happiness and probably end
up completely alone and then go to hell.

That teacher sat there feeling
good about himself
for correcting a wayward 8-year-old soul
while I wiped my eyes
and walked home hoping no one would see me
stupid metaphors,
what good are they

and I’ve been ducking people
like him
and Tony Posino
ever since.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 56 | Fall/Winter 2020