The poem ‘A’v aye wantit tae be a dentist’ by Ross Lyttle was shortlisted in this quarter’s John Byrne Award.
The judges’ commented, ‘We absolutely loved this anonymously submitted poem; the vernacular, storytelling and honesty of the piece stays with you far beyond a first reading. The work is generous in its capacity to let you in to the author’s story – and creates space for empathy, admiration, and reflection. A stunning piece of work which has the depth and character to support a wider discussion about mental health, ambition, vocation, and more.’
A’v aye wantit tae be a dentist, so a hiv.
It’s weird a know, but it’s wit a wantit.
Ma da wis keen oan that idea right enough.
He’d his eyes oan an apairtment in Spain afore a’d stairtit
the high school, he’s aye teasin us!
So a worked haurd.
Git the heid doon and git stuck in’s wit ma mammy wid say.
A dinna like tae toot ma oan trumpet, but
a did well at school.
Got cawed a teacher’s pet oan the odd occasion, but
the academy’s full ae wee bastarts – it’s tae be expectit.
A widnae’v said this at the time, but a luv’d the school.
Didnae hiv tae think fur masel so much, an a wis cliver so a
got by awrite.
A did git sad sometimes mind, but
naebody unnerstuid wit wis involved wae gettin intae
dental school. Ye needit ‘A’s fur wan thing, but
there wis tests anaw – weed oot the competition an aw that.
An then they interviewed ye – no jist questions by-the-way, but
mad puzzles an that. A didnae really see the point ae it, but
that’s wit they wantit.
Aye the interviews were haurd right enough – a came hame
fae each wan wae ma face trippin me. Ma mammy aye telt me
a’d done better than a thought, but
a wisnae fur hivin it.
A stairtit tae think it wisnae gonnae happen – it wis torture
no hivin a Scooby! Needit that crystal baw mammy aye telt me she’d lost.
So there a wis two days afore ma last interview, right? An a
wis quite quiet at school that day. Folk kept askin if a wis awrite
so a telt them a wis jist shittin masel.
A came hame that night an haed ma dinner – a wis quite stressed so
a ate it up the stair wae a study book.
A dinna know why but a dug ma nails in deep an gied ma airm a guid clawin afore bed.
It didnae really hurt, only a wee bit.
Anyhow, next mornin wit a fright a got – ma airm wis reid-raw, gaupin!
Wit a numpty – lucky a’d gaun ontae lang sleeves in sixth year so
naebody saw wit a mess a’d made.
Ma interview wis actually quite guid efter aw that, an soon a’d
two offers – happy as Larry a wis!
Am a third year nou so it’s aw worked oot
It’s no like school, dental school. A’v never been guid at
makin decisions but am hivin tae learn.
A git worked up aboot seein patients anaw – feart a’ll git things wrang
in front ae them or that.
A know they think am daft even if they dinna say it.
It sounds stupit but a git quite sad aboot it sometimes – usually a hiv a wee
greet an am awrite efter.
Recently though a wee greet hisnae been workin. A keep
thinkin how this is mebbes no fur me, ye know?
A’v stairtit doin daft things like arguin wae masel in the shower an
eatin whole packs ae biscuits in a wanner.
Ma folks back hame’v paid fur me tae be here, an a’v never really
thought a’d need tae dae anythin else. Sometimes a pretend am
a drag queen but a doubt that’d git me an apairtment in Spain.
A didnae really think there wis anythin wrang til a
cut masel wan night.
It didnae really hurt, only a wee bit.
Nice an calm anaw – like the world wisnae watchin anymair. Sometimes
the blood took its time tae appear, or it wid be in a rush ithers.~
A liked guessin wit is wis gonnae dae each time afore a did it, but
sometimes a cheatit an jist press’d haurder so a’d win.
A’v spoken tae folk nou though, an am gettin loads ae help an that.
It’s nice tae hiv a wee bit ae time aff – git back hame an
sort masel oot, ye know?
A dae feel like everybody is oan their tip taes aroon me, feart
tae look at me the wrang way in case a brek.
But a know they’re jist worryin, a wid too if ma pal cut themsels –
an a’d be blabberin the same shite everybody’s stairtit oan me.
A dinna really know wit the plan is gaun aheid tae be fair.
A hiv aye wantit tae be a dentist, an a dae think
that’s wit a’ll end up daein.
A need tae look efter ma heid though cause a need that fur mair than jist
fixin teeth. Am still a bit scunnert by it aw if am honest –
a thought this malarkey wis only fur goths an that. A guess
everybody needs a wee bit ae help nou an then.