20 lashes of the soul
marked by every taunt they spoke
and tho they say that words don't kill
there I lay all bruised and broke

a crumpled mass of dread and doubt
seething rage and hate and shame
and bitterest of ironies -
it was myself who held the blame

'what's wrong with me?' I did lament
for this was surely punishment
too much a nerd, a dork, a geek
too big an outcast; too big a freak

a blemish on their perfect world
for which I secretly did long
but I could not stop being me
this thing that could not belong

and so I forged myself a mask
a sharpened wit and caustic grin
with which I learned to block their barbs
became a force of reckoning

no longer cowering in fear
I know full well just who I am
and if you still don't like me now
then to hell with you, and your world be damned