The Gnu Kid

Because of my dad’s job, we moved a lot when I was young. When I was six, seven and eight—in the first, second and third grades—I went to nine different schools. It was traumatic to say the least, and caused me to be very shy and introverted. I know that’s hard to imagine for those who know me now, but, hey, people grow out of stuff and change.

 The Gnu Kid


me 2I might just as well have been

A wildebeest from a far-off land

Strange in appearance, yet

Not much different than those

Of the new herd


I wasn’t tall, but yet

I felt as though I stood out

Like a sore thumb

Swollen, floating like a balloon gorilla

All eyes on me, fingers pointing


It made me feel blue

And I imagined things about myself

I was silver and gray, with black stripes

A black mane, tail and face

A tuft of hair on my chin


I must’ve appeared hideous to them

For though they all looked like me

    –We all look alike, you know;

        The same only different–

They stared at me as though I had horns


But the herd moves as one

And a stranger among it is strange

Unless the stranger stays awhile

Which we did not, my family and I

And so I was always, the new kid


Copyright © 2013 C Mashburn


Yesterday, Brian at dVerse Poets Pub posted an article called “Lipsticking the Pig”. An eye-catching title if ever there was one, and that was exactly what he was writing about; titles.  I happen to love titles, and in most cases try to come up with one for my stories, poems, and even my inspirational messages, that will draw the reader’s attention and cause them to want to read it. I think this poem I’m posting today has just such a title—I’ll be sharing it on dVerse Poets Pub’s Open Link Night #102 later today—and I even work the tricky title into the poem. Let me know what you think!



  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    It’s hard for me to imagine . . . having been with the same kids from kindergarten through high school.

    • At least we planted roots when I hit 4th grade. I got to go to school in Buckeye all the way through high school.

  2. Charles … can so relate … lived in 23 different Texas towns before my 6th b’day … not counting those we lived in twice! However, when I turned 6 & started school … stayed put till college … down side … only a weekend Dad

    • Oh my gosh! 23? Thank goodness they settled in when you started school. Tough about the weekend dad though.

  3. its hard to always be changing/moving as a kid and not feeling settled…we decided after the boys went to school to settle and allow them the room to build communities..

    and great title-ing charles…ha….and i like how you work all the herd language in as well…smiles

    • I can’t say I made the same decision regarding my boys. After high school, I took to my own wandering ways. I paid a hefty price for it, too.
      Thanks for the great comment, Brian!

  4. howanxious said

    Oh! A wonderful poem with a creative title… 🙂

  5. I can so relate to this.. being the strange kid even without moving.. and every detail in your apperance sticks out.

    • I know! Right? I still think my ears are bigger than Mickey Mouse’s! AND, they say they get bigger as you get older, so THAT ain’t helpin nothin!

  6. Mary said

    Interesting that you were always the ‘gnu kid,’ Charles. From my teaching days, I remember that new boys always managed to fit in so much easier, so much quicker than new girls.. If a boy could kick a ball, catch a ball he was immediately oe of the gang. Not so with girls.

  7. Heidi Barnes said

    Titles are always hard for me, like names. This one is catchy. Draws the reader in to see what the heck you’re talking about. lol

  8. I can hear the school kids teasing, How many gnu’s does the new kid know? I like how you wove the title into your poem !!

  9. Truedessa said

    That must have been hard on you..always the gnu kid. I remember when new kids came to school..sometimes they were welcomed sometimes they weren’t. I cannot imagine being in that pressure cooker. It was hard enough to be accepted when you were part of the fold. Very clever to use gnu with the pic.

    • it was a pressure cooker, wasn’t it. Even after we settled, there was always that pressure to fit in and be accepted.

  10. ayala said

    So hard. We moved a lot …good capture.

  11. Myrna said

    I love he title. It does what a title is meant to do, catch you. I like the poem too. And I’m certain you speak the thoughts of many who were gnu and felt strange. Some of us didn’t even move that much, but the strangeness was there just the same.

  12. I can relate, but not because of moving but because of bearing… the swollen tummy of a child-mother. Strange creatures are we all and a well captured truth in this, very nice!

  13. Raivenne said

    Oh boy, I gnu I was in for a chuckle just by the title. And chuckle I did, twixt the tug at my core wanting to hug that always new kid. I can see why you’re so incredibly withdrawn now (knot!).

  14. You struck a chord…new kid in school. And with my strange name,
    Sigrid Gerstner, I wanted to just drop out and never go back. Of course, back in the fifties parents had some power, and I went on to graduate.
    Thanks for the trip back in time ☺I an see from the comments, we weren’t alone…but certainly felt that way at the time.

    • I definitely agree with the dropping out. I wanted to flee the scene many times.
      Thanks, Siggi!

  15. Very clever title – hard situation though – thanks. k.

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