The Bully

We sat in the back
Baritone and bassoon
Outcast to the fringes
Of the band

I the mere victim
Of undesirable placement
Relegated to the rear
Due to my chosen instrument

He, however,
The unwanted nomad
Classmates refused to see
Indistinct and isolated

Each day he would arrive
Same striped shirt, frayed shoes
Discolored dungarees
Reeking of weeks’ worth of wear

I can rescue him
I proclaimed to my pre-teen self
I’ll be his ally
Defender and advocate

“Have you thought of getting a haircut?”
I’d whisper between tune ups
“You’d look crazy cool in contacts”
“What size shoes do you wear?”

I’d deliver small gifts
Deodorant, soap
Toothbrush, shampoo
Suggest he wash clothes and shower

He didn’t heed my kind counsel
Declined my boorish goodies
He needed a friend
Yet I insisted on being his hero

With each favor or tip
His song became softer
Down to the day I discerned
I was his bully