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Joanne Hillhouse - "Differences" - Poem (Antigua and Barbuda)



“Is his choice”

He says

Matter of fact

Like the boy deserved to die

For this

Accident of biology

He has that


Men of a certain age

(or stubbornness)



Is this what it feels like when your blood boils?


The words want to push out of me

And burn his soul

The boy is dead

I want to scream

If he had kissed

A pretty girl

Instead of another

Randy guy

Would he then

Deserve to live?



“You’re not going to convince me”

He says

So just stop

And I find that I can’t

Suddenly it’s important

To me

That he

Not be like this

Closed off


Hard headed

(like I’m being now, toward him)

I have to find an opening


They betrayed him

I scream


“He chose it”

He insists


To love

I press

To love


Not to be stoned for it

Or have barbed wire

Pulled through his flesh

Or worse yet

Have prying eyes download and dissect

What should have been private


“He chose it”

He insists

Like God willed it

(Not the God I choose to worship; She hugs us all to her bosom)


I tell myself there’s more

More than the science

Of fire and brimstone

If I could just decipher it

Read between his lines


His philosophy is simple after all

Accept life as it is

Don’t weep over it

And don’t let people in your head



And maybe that’s it

That he finds the boy weak


For not stiffening his back

And pushing through


Because to him

Giving in

Is the only real sin


But I look at him

As he sits

Reading the paper

Brow furrowed at politicians

And their antics


While I stand in an island

Blowing smoke

Desperate to have him see that

Death may be life

But it still hurts

That trusting may be stupid

But it is still given in


Of making a connection

That a boy (or girl) who is different

Is not to be savaged


That our differences are to be cherished

Even in how we stand up to this –

Hurricane or shame


That the shame is not in his choice

To give in

But in their decision to ridicule him

And in our decision to judge him

(and give them a bye!)

And to find each other wanting

For being who we are

Me, him

And the boy

Neither of us knows


© 100110 Joanne C. Hillhouse

Joanne C. Hillhouse's new book Oh Gad! hit the market in 2012. The Antigua-Barbudan writer is also the author of The Boy from Willow Bend and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight. Follow her at