In Memory of Phoebe Prince

I read a story today in the Boston Herald about a 14 year old girl named Justine Williams. She is a cancer survivor. She is also a survivor of horrific bullying which she had to endure while going through her cancer treatments. I can’t think of anything more vile than a person preying on another human being while they are enduring a life and death situation. It’s unthinkable, and yet this is evil if ever I saw it.

It reminded me of Phoebe Prince, a kind-hearted girl who committed suicide over a year ago after being subjected to such cruel bullying. Shortly after her death I wrote this poem. To those who tormented her, and to all those who think bullying is an option, it’s not.


(for Phoebe Prince)

So you welcomed her—

the new girl from County Clare,

taught her how little things—

wide smile, plaid scarf,

Irish lilt—keep a girl down,

never mind an untouchable who steals

the heart of your star line man.

There’s no room for a swan

in a piranha pool, and so

you strip her flesh with lies,

tear her face from a class photo,

submerge her under your words.

Irish slut . . . skirt’s too short . . . hair’s too curly.

You couldn’t let it go—

this gentle threat,

those tender eyes.

How she longed to just get by;

how she prayed for something,

anything to change before another day.

But someone had to lose.

On the day she left this world

she walked past the bottles

hurled from the window

of a whizzing car, past

the white picket fence

frozen in New England snow,

into a closet where she wrapped

life’s horrors around her neck.

But you weren’t done.

There were new girls

to slam into lockers,

punch in the head.

You returned to what

you’d left behind,

typed one word—


under your Status Update.