Sunday, February 6, 2011

Wooden Head

Pinocchio - Matthew Hart with Geppetto - Luke Haydon
Copyright : John Ross ©
The UK performance of Pinocchio, the ballet in Linbury, December, 2005

Wooden Head

If I was a real boy
I might not need to hide from
you under my sheet.

I might not then tell
stories of domination
and triumph over
all the land and sea.

I might reveal this
wrinkled fallen broken soul
if I was a real boy
and my heart was healed.

July 18, 2009 12:40 PM

changed “perfect” to “a real boy”,
and "heart" to "soul"
February 6, 2011 12:04 PM

changed the title from
"Pulling My Covers" to "Wooden Head"
7:04 PM

This poem should have posted a long time ago, but there was something wrong with it. I took a look this morning and things fell in place. "Wooden Head" and "real boy" are phrases associated with Pinocchio as long as I have known the story. I did not feel I wanted a cartoon character. I got ballet artistes instead. The meat of the poem is not meant to be a portrait of Pinocchio. That is too direct. I was not thinking of Pinocchio when I first composed the poem.

I was however thinking of being stuck in a role, perhaps a self constructed and miserable role, and yearning for a simple and less painful life - perhaps being stuck something like being an unintentional wooden headed gargoyle in the wrong job just waiting for the other shoe to drop because you are failing and you know it. That happened to me in the mid nineties, rather late in my career. I had been placed in over my head and I was trying to be a design crew supervisor with almost no training relevant to the design discipline. While supervisory duties were an expected part of my job description, hi-tech utility piping (exotic atmospheres and materials and clean room protocols) was not. I was out of place and hopeless. I did get fired, the worst moment of my career before or since. I was twenty years senior at the time.

I was locked out and walked off the job and they packed me up themselves, demonstrating the degree of distrust they felt they needed to show. Of course I never worked for either that client or my engineering company again. It is really small consolation that I did nothing but try my best and fail. Anyone in politics or business who has been through this sort of thing can tell you there is no consolation in explanations or extenuating circumstances. I did not even know enough about things to say I was unqualified and refuse the assignment at the start of it. I was used to success. The atmosphere was horrid and the guy I was replacing looked at me with pity as he left. He was from another local company and they were being shown the door for corporate political reasons. We were replacing that company. It was a bad job.

It was a commuting job too. We were carpooling about forty miles. I had to sit with my design crew all the way home with everyone knowing my situation. What I experienced on that car ride was extreme shame. There was nothing I could say nor that they could say that could make it any better. We were all surprised.

If I was a real boy none of this would happen. Do you see the fantasy? Don't think I don't.


  1. What a lovely poem. It's so hard to be real, to be who we really are, to even know who we really are.

    I can't imagine being fired, it must have been difficult. I quit a job last summer that I was unqualified for, felt unsafe in, tucked my tail between my legs and went back to my old job. I felt humiliated.

  2. Thank you, Lilith. I think the changes made the poem work out. Before, it was puerile and actually wrong headed, itself wooden headed. I wasn't ready to fix it either, so I placed it in my "not posted" file, hoping I would get to it someday. It is amazing how changing just a few words changes the universe.

    I do not think that being abruptly and coldly fired is an experience that is necessary to have, any more than I think we should all experience the front lines in a shooting war. However it is an experience that many people do have. I would rather it never happened to me.

    But since it did, I now understand the stress and distress of that situation and similar ones that occur when things get harsh.

  3. "There was nothing I could say nor that they could say that could make it any better. We were all surprised."

    Damn it damn it damn it. Sometimes there is no fix. I bang my head bloody against the wall of attempt though, surprised over and over again that no matter what, nothing has mended. Isn't that the definition of insanity?

  4. Well, yes, Annie, a famous definition of one kind of insanity, doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. That is revelatory sometimes to people who fail to get out of trouble and this is why. It is of course only one form of insanity.

    It is a very common failing in the worlds of addictions.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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