The title poem from Simon Armitage’s collection Kid (published in the U.K. in 1992) remains a classic anthem of English youth. (It’s now available in this country in a compact but satisfying selection of Armitage’s work entitled The Shout.)
Batman, big shot, when you gave the order
to grow up, then let me loose to wander
leeward, freely through the wild blue yonder
as you liked to say, or ditched me, rather,
in the gutter . . . well, I turned the corner.
Now I’ve scotched that “he was like a father
to me” rumour, sacked it, blown the cover
on that “he was like an elder brother”
story, let the cat out on that caper
with the married woman, how you took her
downtown on expenses in the motor.
I’m not playing ball boy any longer
Batman, now I’ve doffed that off-the-shoulder
Sherwood-Forest-green and scarlet number
for a pair of jeans and crew-neck jumper;
now I’m taller, harder, stronger, older.
Batman, it makes a marvellous picture:
you without a shadow, stewing over
chicken giblets in the pressure cooker,
next to nothing in the walk-in larder,
punching the palm of your hand all winter,
you baby, now I’m the real boy wonder.
Excerpt from THE SHOUT © 2005 by Simon Armitage. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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