Poetry by Charles Joseph

Whoever Spares the Rod Hates Their Children

Image from pxfuel – artist not mentioned

do you remember that you love your child
before you beat your child?

your offspring twists in your firm grip
like an unwanted animal, finally caught

the animal knows what’s next
it screams for freedom.

in which graveyard in your heart
do you find desire to swing the whip?

is it adrenaline?
do you wish to continue the tradition?

have you forgotten what it felt like?
was it necessary for what you’ve become?

are you proud of yourself?
who are you?

is it an addiction?
what’s your reason?

when do you decide to stop?
when is the message communicated?

do you hope to be a slavemaster?
the law allows beating your property till death

do you hope to be a slavemaster?
write lessons on your child’s skin?

what was so bad about slavery,

the child is yours
this must be love, right?

what makes you stop?
does the whip ask for mercy, too?

is it when the rage drain your body
to become scars on their soul?

how do you engage them in happiness
after it’s all done?

how do you place a plate of food
with these watery eyes of shame?

do you leave care in the previous circulation
now, try a different attempt at love?

do you ever regret it?
when does regret become fury?

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13 responses to “Whoever Spares the Rod Hates Their Children”

  1. Holy shit I have tears in my eye and a shake in my body. The angst, fury and emotion coming off this piece is wonderfully brutal!

    1. Well, I am eternally grateful that I am able to evoke such emotions–especially since that was my initial intent with this piece! Thank you immensely for taking the time to read and also share the impact that the piece had on you. I hope you take care of yourself.

      – Sir Charles

  2. Charles, the images that you evoke in this poem took me back in time to something my father had shared with me about his upbringing. Back in those days beating your children was accepted. He carried those emotional scars through out his life. You captured the pain of abuse in this poem. There is so much more I could say. . .You’re a brilliant poet. Thank you for sharing your words.

    1. Whenever you feel comfortable or willing to, please say the “much more” that you could say. I want to create an open space for people to feel free to share about their pain and be vulnerable. I do thank you immensely for sharing that big bit about your father. I wrote this poem because I had a similar upbringing–many of us in my culture did. So I wrote this piece to give voice to everyone who had to endure that. I was beaten madly when I was an infant. Most times, it was by people who weren’t even related to me. But it was culture, so I couldn’t say much or do anything about it but clench my muscles and scream when the whip contacts my skin. Healing from that is tough.

      I hope you and your father are having a graceful journey to internal peace. Pass my most peaceful wishes to him, please.

  3. Thank you, Charles, for the blessing. My father passed away years ago and I pray that he found peace in his soul. I’ve written about him in a rough draft of a memoir I’ve tucked away in my desk drawer. You’ve inspired me to revisit my writing about him. Writing is my way to heal; I don’t think my father ever healed, and that saddens me. Maybe I will find healing in releasing the pain through my writing. Healing is tough. I’m not altogether sure we ever do completely, though. It’s been decades and my heart still hurts. I pray for you; I pray for all children who have experienced abuse. . .I pray for our healing. Again, thank you for your words.

    1. I believe that souls live eternally beyond the physical form. So, even though your father has passed, his soul can still heal. I like to believe that by healing yourself, especially through writing about him, you’re healing his soul too because your soul and his are connected. Just like he ended a generational trauma with you, you can start a generational tradition of healing. He’ll heal too as he is with you in spirit throughout the entire process. It’s beautiful when you think of it that way.

      I write a lot about my past and the pain I experienced there. I heal a little through that meditation but I still feel the same as you–I don’t think we ever heal completely. One big part of healing is freeing yourself from the pain. My healing process is to first understand why the pain is there and understand why it’s necessary. I embrace it. Then I accept the occurrence of the event and that I cannot go back to the past and do anything about it. But I can deal with who I am now. By doing that, I free myself from that pain. I heal.

      Not healing completely has its benefits as it allows us to never forget where we came from, what we’re fighting for and why we are doing it. We just have to free ourself from it by no longer letting the pain control us. Thank you for sharing with me and being open. I think revisiting that memoir is a great idea!

      1. I never really considered that my father’s soul could still be healed. When I get back to writing my memoir I will remember the encouragement you’ve shared with me here. I stepped back from writing about my father because it broke my heart. But, there is healing in acknowledging the pain, and in realizing the past cannot be changed, but the future can be. Thanks, Charles. I’ll let you know how my writing goes. Have a wonderful week.

        1. In my culture, and in a lot of cultures that are rooted from Africa, we strongly believe in the “ancestral plane” meaning that our loved-ones that have passed (ancestors) still exist in another dimension, in another form, and that the living can still have some interactions with them. I hope that gives you some hope and comfort. Please do let me know about how the writing goes. I wish you a great week as well, Jenny. ✨🙏🏾

  4. Thank you for this hopeful message. In my heart I have always felt that this existence is so much more than we see on this earth. I will definitely let you know how my writing goes.

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