Among Sixth-Formers
St Andrew’s RC Secondary School, Glasgow

They sit there, eager, young and bright,
two wanting to be teachers, one
a doctor, while the fourth describes
his goal to be a journalist.
At their age, I was stoned or pissed –

today I’m just a tie and suit
who in their pert eyes must appear
a bland old bore, whose accent means
he’s (a) English and (b) can’t know
the pressures they’ve defied, but though

it was madness to believe we might
discover a common language or
an interpreter able to translate
with empathetic clarity
me to them and them to me

yet how could I fail to be inspired
by finding hope here, amidst their grey
resentful home estate which wants
its offspring back, whose rules they flout
even by dreaming of breaking out

to solid, legal, long careers,
to marriages which last, to kids
who’ll laugh at them for being so straight,
to lives unlocked from drugs and crime –

to safer ways to serve their time,
the guilt of such a thought being mine.

Tom Vaughan

If you have any comments on this poem, Tom Vaughan would be pleased to hear from you.