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Editor's Note:  This poem was written by a fifteen-year-old boy, most likely

in the late 1960's, two years before he committed suicide.  It has achieved a

small measure of fame, as it has been posted on many internet sites and has

been made part of the curriculum at some schools.  It was published in 1972

by Time as part of an article on teen suicide, and then analyzed by Judson
Jerome in one of his books.  However, the version published in Time and
analyzed by Jerome was cut down mercilessly.  This is the full version,
which I received from a lady in Texas named Vicky Moody, who learned it
in school in 1972, and  to whom I am very grateful.

 

 

To Santa Claus and Little Sisters
(abbreviated version printed in Newsweek)

 

Once ... he wrote a poem.

And called it "Chops",

Because it was the name of his dog, and that's what it was all about.

And the teacher gave him an "A"

And a gold star,

And his mother hung it on the kitchen door, and read it to all his aunts ...

 

Once ... he wrote another poem.

And he called it "Question Marked Innocence".

Because that was the name of his grief and that's what it was all about.

And the professor gave him an "A"

And a strange and steady look.

And his mother never hung it on the kitchen door,

Because he never let her see it ...

 

Once, at 3 a.m. ... he tried another poem ...

And he called it absolutely nothing, because that's what it was all about.

And he gave himself an "A"

And a slash on each damp wrist,

And hung it on the bathroom door because he couldn't reach the kitchen.

 

 

To Santa Claus and Little Sisters
(the original version as given to me by a reader)

 

Once,

On yellow paper, with green lines, he wrote a poem,

And called it "Chops",

Because that was the name of his dog,

And thatís what it was all about.

And the teacher gave him an "A"

And a gold star,

And his mother hung it on the kitchen door,

And read it to all his aunts.

That was the year his sister was born,

With tiny toenails and no hair,

And Father Tracy took them to the zoo

And let them sing on the bus.

And his mother and father kissed a lot

And the girl around the corner sent him a Christmas card

Signed with a row of x's.

And his father always tucked him in at night,

And he was always there to do it.

 

Once,

On white paper, with blue lines, he wrote another poem.

And he called it "Autumn"

Because that was the name of a season,

And thatís what it was all about.

And the teacher gave him an "A"

And told him to write more clearly.

And his mother didnít hang it on the kitchen door

Because the door

Had just been painted.

That was the year his sister got glasses,

With black frames and thick lenses.

And the kids told him why father and mother

Kissed a lot,

And that Father Tracy smoked cigars

And left butts on the pews,

And the girl around the block laughed

When he went to see Santa Claus at Macyís.

And his father stopped tucking him in bed at night,

And got mad when he cried for him to.

 

Once,

On paper torn from his notebook, he wrote another poem,

And he called it "Question Marked Innocence",

Because that was the name of his grief

And thatís what it was all about.

And the professor gave him an "A"

And a strange and steady look.

And his mother never hung it on the door

Because he never let her see it.

That year he found his sister necking on the back porch

And his parents never kissed, or even smiled.

And he forgot how the end of the "Apostleís Creed" went,

And Father Tracy died.

And the girl around the block wore too much make-up

That made him cough when he kissed her,

But he kissed her anyway.

 

Once,

At 3 a.m., he tucked himself in bed,

His father snoring soundly.

He tried another poem, on the back of a pack of matches,

And he called it "absolutely nothing"

Because thatís what it was all about.

And he gave himself an "A"

And a slash on each damp wrist,

And hung it on the bathroom door,

Because he couldnít reach the kitchen.

 

                               Anonymous (written by a 15-year-old boy

                                    two years before he committed suicide)

 


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