. Ill-used I’ve been ill-used, no other word will do; pristinely packaged, sanitised and new a month ago I stood upon display till someone paid to carry me away. Once home, he placed me in a cup whose rim was chipped and whose interior was grim. Upon a shelf, inside his smallest room, I stayed, alone, to contemplate my doom. Next morning he adorned my head with gel--- my bristles had a fresh and minty smell. But then he raised me up into his mouth and brushed from east to west, from north to south. I rubbed against decaying slabs of brown, deep cavities, raw gums, a tarnished crown, till finally he scrubbed his furry tongue, an organ as malodorous as dung. Each morning since, I’ve gagged upon his breath, that rancid cavern’s stench is worse than Death, with plaque and gummed up lips that dribble goo; I’ve been ill-used, no other word will do. . Poet's Note: In the Inter-Board Poetry Competition (IBPC) of August, 2017, Ill-Used scored 2nd place. It was also the only poem singled out for an honourable mention that year after the three poems of the year were announced. . . Paul A. Freeman is the author of Rumours of Ophir, a crime novel which was taught in Zimbabwean high schools and has been translated into German. In addition to having two novels, a children’s book and an 18,000-word narrative poem (Robin Hood and Friar Tuck: Zombie Killers!) commercially published, Paul is the author of hundreds of published short stories, poems and articles.