Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Remembering Marcel IV

Marcel, the Good Ole Boys 
made your life hell, in high school, 
taunting you to make themselves feel big.
You could not come out as gay
in 1964 Immaculata High,
but they sensed your difference from the herd 
and avoided their own insecurities by tormenting you.
"Begone, thou milk-faced fools!" you'd rage,
face red, tears of frustration in your eyes.
They fell about laughing like the fools they were.
I did not know how to stop their taunting cries.

I fell in beside you, as you walked away,
in solidarity, and wordlessly we trudged
away from those laughing fools, 
just one more day we'd spent  
surviving school.

You waited for me every morning after that,
at the corner of Richter and Elliott in the snow.
We'd trudge back towards the unfriendly, lighted school,
part at the lockers with a silent nod.
"Courage!" was the word we did not say,
but needed, to withstand each painful day.

In university, you lived your happiest years,
and found your one brief love,
 finally were accepted as the brilliant, funny, 
endearing intellectual you were.
Ten times more interesting than the fools 
who'd jeered,
you went on to a brilliant career.

I found you again years later,  
ill, struggling, impoverished, alone.
You had been gay-bashed, identified your attacker,
but the police were indifferent to your plight.
You grew tired of the struggle
of surviving. I heard you faltering, 
but did not recognize the clues,
one afternoon received a phone call.
You had left this world.
I'd lost the friend I thought I'd never lose.

I wish I could write a happier end
to the story that was your life, my friend.
I would write of kindness and inclusion
and your life continuing on.
The world is much diminished
by your being gone.

for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Bullying. 

I have written earlier poems, and a story, about Marcel's life, which impacted me profoundly. He left a letter for me when he left this world, saying he had just gotten tired of the struggle. In the photo he is holding his beloved Paprikas, two weeks before his death, when he already knew he would be leaving. I found out when it was too late that his dying wish had been that Paprikas be spared the trauma of going to the SPCA, that he be put to sleep. But the family had just 24 hours to clear out his apartment, and in haste they took poor Paprikas to the SPCA after all. This photo haunts me. A sad life, that should have been much happier.


  1. Thank you, thank you. And thak you. This story cannot be told too much, and it also cannot be undone.
    "The world is much diminished
    by your being gone."

  2. this is so very heartbreaking Sherry...i have no words, simply choking...

  3. Such a tragic loss and heartbreaking tale of a kind soul. May he rest in peace. Amen.

  4. I remember this poem of yours years ago. It is not one you could forget.He looked like such a gentle soul.How many people I wonder ever did anything to help him befriend him. All a person needs mainly is a strong person on their side who will stand for them.This reminds me of going to funerals where wonderful words are spoken about the departed and you know the person died alone and none of the mourners ever went near them.Sorry I don't think much of that family either with the cat story...of course something could be done with the cat...Leave the stuff and save the cat!

  5. Through, the valley of Death, I have walked, like Marcel, just didn't have the courage, for that final trip, to embrace Death, in her arms, as we dance, my last tango.

  6. What a stunning poem and tribute to a man that deserved so much better. Being different is a mark of creativity of seeing the world in a new light it is so important that we do not lose such people.

  7. I remember this one Sherry ~ May he be at peace ~

  8. Heartbreaking.. what makes us so cruel and limited as a race that we find ways to exclude anything that shows us a mirror to our own weaknesses. You were a good friend Sherry and am sure that made a difference.

  9. One of the most perplexing things in this world is way difference that causes no harm to others and only brings love is so detested by others.

  10. I too had a gay friend, a very good friend who was highly intelligent - could speak 9 languages and played in a symphony orchestra. Music was his outlet. I say was, because I have not connected with him for a long long time. He too supported me when I walked a troubled road. Now, I am not sure where he is... but maybe...maybe I should check... A beautiful, beautiful, moving poem...And I detoured too to the read the story...

  11. As i read i knew the end but didn't want to - we lose the best people and yet they are remembered by the best people too - the courage to survive is a heavy burden and you can feel that in his face particularly in the last picture.. may peace come to those who deserve it - and i am glad that you keep your friend alive

  12. Every time I read about Marcel I am so very sad. What a tragedy that he was bullied so much that he could not take it any more. People can be SO cruel.

  13. what a sad tale.. and yet there is so much to admire in his bravery. Until it all got too much. Even the strongest break sometimes

  14. Dear Sherry...a wonderful story, and no, some wonderful stories do have sad endings....I am sorry his didn't end happier.

  15. A sad story Sherry. The world is indeed oft full of pain for those whom we regard as different.
    Kind regards
    Anna :o]


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