If you haven't seen the film "Bully," it's a must-see.  After viewing it, I had words buzzing through my head all day - until I finally got to my keyboard.  I hope these verses capture something of it.  Mostly, I hope they relay what a friend can do and the ultimate power of kindness.  The final verses are, I hope, verses of hope.

The Good Day
By Frederick Alimonti
(inspired by the film “Bully”)

It was a good day in school today.
No one talked to me.
No one hit me.
No one hurt me.
It was a good day.

The day after the big game;
And it was all the talk of the bus.
No one hit me.
No one hurt me.
It was a good day.

I saw the game too.
No one cares what I think.
No one asked.
I think no one saw me.

I sat alone in the back of the bus,
Knees at my chin
Quite invisible, I think
Happy to be unnoticed.

Even the boy in the red sweatshirt;
The one who pounds on me
Seemed not to see me.
He left me alone today
It was a good day.

At lunch, I sat alone.
My hood hid my face.
It kept me invisible
No one sat with me.

No one spoke to me.
Offered to trade desserts.
But no one tipped my tray.
Or stole my dessert.

It was a good day.
I saw others talk
And laugh.
Even punch, but in play,
Not in a mean way.

I wondered what that was like.
To have a friend.
To have someone say “hi”
To ask about your day, and care

Still, it was a good day.
No one hit me
No one hurt me
No one said a word [to me].

The ride home was the same
I was a phantom
Unseen, unheard,
And unacknowledged.
It was a good ride home.

That was my good day.
No words, no friends
But no hits, no taunts.

A day without a single kind word
No pat on the back
No smile in my direction.
Yet it was a good day.

When you’re bullied,
That’s a good day.
A really good day.

Tomorrow,
There will have been no big game.
I will reappear,
And they will hurt me.

Tonight, I will dream-
Dream of a smile,
A kind word
A simple hello.

I will dream of a friend
A friend who cares;
Who cares what I think
And how I’m doing

A friend to sit with on the bus
And at lunch
A friend who includes me.

I convince myself
That someday that will happen.
Someday that will be true.
Then, I will have a great day!
 
Now that Inside Out has hit the stores, I thought I would add just a few words about it.  First, I guess you can say that I did an “analog beta test.”   I read this story without the benefit of illustrations to a middle school assembly and in some classrooms in my hometown.  The response has been tremendous.  To this day, children stop me in town and ask me if inside Out is available yet and tell me how much they liked it – boys and girls surprisingly (despite the focus on female bullying)!  It also demonstrated the unique capability of poetry to engage children – and adults too I think.

The funny thing is, it was only after writing [and reading] this book that I even realized it addressed bullying.  The theme that inspired me to write Inside out that of inner beauty; the bullying in the book was simply a vehicle for this message.  I think the result was a book that addresses bullying in a unique and perhaps subtle way.  There are legions of books available on discouraging bullying and how harmful it is.  I have not seen an approach like this one before.  Our bully takes a forced look at herself on the “inside.”  Yet somehow, the story is still fun and ultimately uplifting.  I hope you will give it a try.

Rick