There are small children
in my brain tasked
as whipping boys.
They take it and take it
and take it,
while I stand by, increasingly

We have, you see, been educated together
from birth, which has created
a strong emotional attachment
between us–these small children
and all of me,
or rather, the rest of me,
or rather, Queen Me.

A part of that part of me cries
when they are punished,
as if, in my stead,
but educated from birth,
I’ve learned to keep it
in my head.

But these, my whipping boys,
grow into smaller and smaller children
as I age,
and now, unable to keep to one place, pained,
leap from brain to limb
from chest to face,
and my feet trip
and my hands mistake–
all because they refuse
to just sit still, take it.


Here’s a very draft poem for Grace’s prompt on With Real Toads to write a poem inspired by Eugenio Montale.  I love Montale;  I’ve not read enough, and I can’t say how this poem was inspired by him–only that I read Grace’s prompt and struck by his poem about a well and this was what I wrote shortly after.  Whipping boys were used in the English court, when young princes were basically unpunishable by their tutors–the whipping boy was punished in place of the prince; the idea to teach a lesson  to the prince through the punishment of what was sometimes an only friend.  

I’ve not had much time for drawing lately so using photos I have!  I like this one though (taken in the beautiful Catskill Mountains.) 

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15 Comments on “Tasked”

  1. Grace Says:

    My first time to read about whipping boys K ~ The brain works in mysterious ways but does the punishment work or does it move us to the opposite direction ~ And lovely picture ~

    Thanks for linking up with Real Toads & wishing you happy weekend ~

  2. Susan Says:

    Real or imagined, those whipping boys are strange images to carry around silently or aloud. I’m glad they won’t sit still for it and that their “prince” trips up because of it! Bravo.

  3. Amazing image, K I like how the poem can pair with the topic of your poem.

  4. vandana Says:

    We all have an inner child within us waiting to be unleashed!!

  5. Sumana Roy Says:

    when the whipping boys reign the outcome’s got to be strange..sometimes we are helpless, completely at the mercy of our own thoughts….images so cleverly used….

  6. Myrna Says:

    We often don’t know how inspiration works. I love your poem though. I think its very clever and I love the ending.

  7. hedgewitch Says:

    This is wonderful work with the metaphor, k–flawlessly executed. And the point it makes is subtle but goes straight to the core of our behavior. All the arguments, the justifications, the blame game within that finds a whipping boy, some character flaw, some weighty perceived ‘what if I hadn’t’ mistake, to nominate to take our punishment for us, rings so true–but I especially like the ending, where these elements begin to play up and refuse their roles, and force us to an honesty we don’t want but must find. Or so I read, anyway.

  8. What a thought of having a imaginary whipping boys inside.. we never know how to make connection.. but my thoughts goes immediately to Dorian Gray, with the portrait being the manifestation of those whipping boys… hmm

  9. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    This poem is so darn good, Karin. What a comparison you have used here to show the way that one may keep thoughts and actions in check.. those poor little whipping boys of the mind. I admire the way you have progressed to show that, with age, they are not as apt to take it.

    I am blown away by the whole piece, start to finish.

  10. grapeling Says:

    really a brilliant conceit, k ~

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