My ‘IT’! – a poem about my occasional battle with a stammer

I don’t remember when it came,

No introduction, spasms, convulsions,

Black outs and then me, coming to

With it!

But it definitely arrived, stayed,

Put its feet up, slippers on

Pipe lit, staring into the quiet fire

Yet coiled and waiting to spring up

With aggression into my face

When I least needed it to.

The abuse that I have received

From IT…over the years

It’s left me in rage, blood boiling

But mostly in tears…instant tears

As I walked away from talks,

And meetings, and greetings, and speeches,

And phone calls, and shops.

And IT…always came with me.

It couldn’t just stay put, where it happened

Walked away from me, having had its fun.

And the brighter I got, qualifications mounting,

It still didn’t go, not put off it had a new challenge

To ruin my work, to ruin other peoples’ lives

Who depended on me, in Court.

Who wants a lawyer who can’t say words, they’re just words, what’s your problem?

That start with a P or an L or an S or an M or an R or A or an E or an I or O or a U or a C or K or a W or a H or an N.

In fact shall I just use a small bag of letters,

And try and form simple words.

Simple words for complex problems.

Swearing…that helps to fill the gaps.

But how many times am I to be threatened with contempt of Court!

Gaps that i now fill with a thesaurus,

You know I still read the thesaurus.

Whenever a new word just won’t come out,

My brain now quick enough to know that

IT is about to strike and so it diverts

My mouth to another track, gives it another word to use,

that means the same. Loading words into a magazine like bullets.

Which is apt for my quick fire speech, mumbling and too fast.

Not often do I sit there trying to

Push out that 1 fucking word

That won’t come out…as people

Look at me. The first few seconds they look it is a small grin, which very quickly goes, as they see

The struggle with what I am fighting with…to just say the word I want to say. 

But the offer I get is silence and stares as they are blinded in what to do. 

Do I say something, try to help him out, or wait patiently until he either gives up or goes for a different word.

It’s only happened once, when one of my team seemed to pick it up so quickly and as I dropped the baton in speech,

she quickly leant down and finished the race with precision.

With my oh so uncomfortable a pause which stretched to over 10 seconds she looked at me “that’s totally right pete..” looking at the other attendees “..we spoke about this yesterday and the important thing to remember is….”

And then the focus shifted to her.  Apart from one person who looked at me, as I looked up feeling sick and n nauseous with my stomach in knots. 

She gave a small polite smile and then focused on my teammate. 

So I run this department, and provide top drawer advice and guidance, but I can’t string a sentence when I need to.

This oral fail, battered by hail, mouth full of nails all manifests into my personal failure, irrational I know,

But when IT strikes, the self-esteem drains like a broken dam.  

IT lives on, never drowned or stifled or suffocated, IT is never lost for words,

As it fills my mind with a thousand reasons as to why it came, and never left,

and IT gets me now and again,

A tenant in my body and head for 3 decades plus 9,

but it sleeps more and more these days.

I joined a poetry group reciting live to an audience, and IT never turned up

Didn’t see a single performance of mine.  Why not!! Where were the fuck were you, when I was armed with words and scripts and thoughts…I would have annihilated you.

I would have disposed of you live, real time with dialogue and speed. 

A wordsmith Zorro with the cameras rolling.

With a perfect Z scratched into your arse!

But hey…why were you there last week when Sky phoned, out of the blue,

To check to see if I am happy.  You chose that moment to suck the wind

From my lungs and the words form my mouth, leaving me arid, parched,

Feeling sick, stressed and stupid.  What was so special about that call?

Did it catch you unaware, and it pissed you off – you fucking rat!

And where were you in London when I held and captured a room of over 100 people as I spoke with passion about the wonders of making a positive impact by helping students get to the UK to get an education and importance of being a part of someone else’s journey? 

As I stood there and you there, I felt you in my chest, dying to get some of the limelight, and you tried to screw up my flow by holding back the word ‘potential’ and you didn’t see me expertly divert to the word  ‘future’.  The safety of the F word, for me…too often relied upon

Perplexing parasite preconditioned to piss on my parade

Marauding Mongol masochistically messing with my mind.

And as I read this out loud, I wonder…did you raise your head up with the P’s and the M’s?

Peak around the corner to remove the wind from my sails…well…DID YOU!



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