A Boy Without A Chance

Poem Stories


A Boy Without A Chance

The path behind the school, well-worn,

Lead to a home-made swing,

An old tire hung with plow-line spun

As laughter then would ring.


Each one of us would take a turn,

Before we left for home.

The last one always?  Billy Joe.

Poor kid.  Just skin and bone.


He never tried to hurry off.

He did not mind the wait.

He had no one to welcome him,

No care if he was late.


His mom had died when he was small.

A fever took her life.

His father then began to drink.

He missed his loving wife.


The drinking was the worst of it.

It made his father mean.

The more he drank the more he fought.

Their larder oft' was lean.


Poor Billy Joe, ashamed to tell,

Wore bruises no one saw.

Although a bright, quick-learner he

Just went to school by law.


My daddy brought him home one day,

Said he had hired his help,

And Billy Joe would work for him.

"Can't do it all myself!"


So we five girls and Momma too,

Accepted Billy Joe.

We left the men the heavy work,

As off to field they'd go.


Right from the start he ate with us,

And suppertime was changed.

That skinny boy could eat a cow,

He ate as though deranged.


He never spoke a word to us.

He labored quietly.

He'd ease about as though he craved,



Back and forth from field to barn,

I'd watch him as he crept.

He'd carry wood and clean out stalls,

And sometimes there he slept.


Nobody knew that Billy Joe

Was working for us there.

But teacher noticed his clean clothes,

Now mended with much care.


I never saw my Momma sew

A single stitch or patch,

But I still knew 'twas by her hand,

Her sewing was not matched.


As months and years crawled slowly by

He flourished.  Muscles grew.

He used the money daddy paid

For coat and clothes, a few.


His grades improved with food and care.

He moved to top of class.

While Ruben Jones and his whole crew,

Were lucky if they passed.


Now Ruben was a bully-boy.

He liked to hit and pinch.

He'd push until no backing up,

And didn't give an inch.


He hated Billy Joe on sight,

The day he moved to town.

He laughed at him and said his dad

Was just a drunken clown.


Poor Billy Joe just took it all,

And did not give a sign,

That he had heard one single word,

As though he didn’t mind.


Those bullies taunted all of us.

The little ones were scared.

Then one day Ruben knocked me down,

How Billy's temper flared!


For weeks those boys had laughed at him,

And he had taken all,

But when he saw me hit the ground,

His fists became two balls.


In seconds time the bully boys

Lay bruised and bleeding there.

He took my hand and helped me up,

As everybody stared.


My Billy Joe!  He'd fought for me,

And told the students then,

"If these boys try to bother you,

Just come and tell me when."


That was the last of bullying,

That we all had to take,

And all because of Billy Joe.

He fought for all our sakes.


When winter came the farm would sleep,

Without much work to do.

So Billy Joe would not show up,

No chores enough for two.


One afternoon as we all walked

The field and woods to roam,

I sent the others down the path,

And followed Billy home.


I’ll not forget, ramshackled mess,

No chimney smoke to see,

I watched him from a hidden spot

Behind a cedar tree.


His father staggered from the door.

He cursed and hit his son.

I couldn’t watch the blows he gave,

Ran to our barn at once.


My Momma found me in the hay,

My tears already spent.

But when I told her what I’d seen,

We both broke down again.


The word spread through our little town

That Billy Joe was hurt.

I heard my parents talking late,

And saw his bloody shirt.


I never knew what Daddy did,

But next day Billy Joe,

Came back to work all black and blue,

Took supper boxed to go.


After several days at home,

Our hero came to school.

Nobody mentioned ought to him,

By our unspoken rule.


The seasons passed so quietly,

That time nigh slipped away.

Sometimes I'd feel his eyes on me,

Look up and smile his way.


No one learned what caused the fire

That burned his old house flat.

But Daddy fixed a cozy room,

Inside our barn out back.


The service for his dad was short,

But Billy cried the while.

A heart so battered, filled with love,

For a man who was so vile.


Long years have passed since we were kids.

The burned-out house is gone,

And in it's place a bungalow,

Stands made of wood and stone.


The flower beds are nestled close,

With roses row on row.

In spring I'll move inside that house.

I'll marry Billy Joe.


My Love will graduate in May

From University,

And then come back to his hometown.

Our doctor he will be.


The boy without a chance in life

Became our town's best friend.

The raggmuffin grew up straight,

A stong trustworthy man.


I think my Daddy said it best,

"Can't do it all myself."

Bad things will come to every life.

Just give a little help.

Music: Dust In The Wind

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Gira Mistry's picture

oh my goodness!! this was sucha great poem!! i loved it!! You are one talented person...take care, and keep writing!!

kenneth_ameigh's picture

Wonderful story Jess. It reads very well now....the breaks are just what the story needed. Well done. Ken

Blue Eyes's picture

WOW ! Jess this is an amazing piece of work !! I think you should be very proud of yourself, if only I could write something with this much insperation !!

I'm glad you asked me to read it, t'was a pleasure !!

I'll be back later to read more that I've missed lately :)

Take care girl!
-Sarah- xx

TREXPATTON's picture

Jessica, there is NOTHING I would take away or add to your beautifully imaginative piece! This reminded me of a song to be sung by Dolly or June Carter-Cash, the narrative, and a background of acoustic blue-grass continually carrying us and the singer along in our own mind's-circuits. Excellent! If you've been observing a dry-spell, then it SURE was worth it!! Teddy.

"Poe" I'm not, nor "Rich" am I,
but I'll be famous, b'ye and b'ye !