Little Johnny’s Lunch
A Story Poem
In the valley there was nestled
Just a church, simple and true,
They had service every Sunday,
But on Monday they had school.
The boys that there attended were
A rowdy, ruffin’ bunch ~
Why, they couldn’t keep a teacher...
Hardly more than just one month!
So the school board thought the answer
Would be a tough man to rule;
And they found a strict old gentleman
Who brought order to the school.
He had a blacksnake laying on
His desk when they came in -
Out in plain site it was displayed
They couldn’t miss a seein’.
On the first day there was order, and
The young boys there could see
That there would be no tolerance,
But a place across the knee.
They all sat there in silence as
The teacher wrote the rules ~
There would be no horse play goin’ on,
There’d be learnin’ at the school.
No one stealin’ - no one lyin’
Not a sin would shut the eye
And the kids all got obedient
There went up a great big sigh.
Then one day, as it came lunch hour
Big ol’ Billy Bob spoke out;
Someone stole my lunch, old Teacher,
Every bite is taken out.
Then a silence like a shudder passed
Throughout all the room
And the boys all came to reason,
They were in the company of a fool.
For who would disobey the rules
With the punishment in sight?
Who would do a thing that listed
On the blackboard was not right?
The teacher said, “The rule is made
Written down for you to see;
Now who will be a man - own up -
And bare his back for me?
Not a whisper there was uttered...
No one even looked around -
But there’d be no lunch break taken
Till the onery thief was found!
Finally, in resigned guiltiness,
A small frail hand was raised,
“Teacher, I’m the one who took it,”
And he gathered every gaze;
For the small boy wasn’t arrogant -
And a sorrow filled the class -
He was the last one anyone wanted
To see punished - if you asked.
Front of everyone, he made it
To the teacher’s desk - was asked,
“Why’d you take that lunch, now Johnny?
You know my rules - my task.”
Little Johnny said, “Well teacher,
My mama died last year,
And my dad he took to drinkin’
Kinda killed the pain and fear;
And sometimes I get so hungry,
Now, it’s been three days at least,
And I only meant to smell it,
But I guess I made a feast.
“Take your coat off, little Jimmy,
For I cannot change the rules;
What’s been plainly set before you -
You can’t break this teacher’s rules.”
When the coat was off the kids all gasp ~
There wasn’t any shirt...
If he had those stripes laid on ~
Oh, how it would hurt!
This boy was small, ~ no wonder ~
All his ribs were seen ~
No matter how you looked at him
He was far from “lean”.
He leaned across the teachers desk -
The whip was raised up high.
The kids had big old tears welled up
In every single eye...
Then from the biggest boy in class
Billy Bob spoke...Oh, wait!
I know we cannot break the rules...
Could I those lashes take?
The teacher looked at all the kids...
He knew to keep his class
In order, he must keep the rules...
He couldn’t let it pass.
So Billy Bob walked to the front,
His muscles were all showing,
The teacher slowly raised the whip
Each lash was given slowly.
And...after class, when kids came
Running out the schoolhouse door...
One little boy stood waiting for
A big boy he adored!
He thanked profusely for the act,
The courage Billy Bob had mustered,
The tears were there on Jimmy’s face
(All around friends clustered.)
They all had seen an act of love
That brought the sting and pain,
They all saw Billy Bob a different way
‘Twould never be the same......
I think I’ve stood before the world
With sins I could not hide...
The rules were there in that Black Book
That should have been my guide.
And Someone stepped between the whip,
Someone took my place...
Someone with a lot of love
Saved me from disgrace!
Someone Who’s amazing
Every year I travel through..
I love Him so...and you should know
He’ll do the same for you!
Joan Clifton Costner
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