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AR #59 Cover
number 59

P O E T R Y
by Janice Townley Moore

"Hellbent-for-leather"

A Southern thing this phrase:
old as blackstrap molasses,
primal as Papa's threat
hanging on a ten penny nail
behind the bathroom door.
Hell sprang in us, the young.
We dredged our long-chewed
Wrigley's mint or Adams Clove
in Grandmother's sugar bowl.
Then into the storm to stun
the laying hens with pebbles
from our slingshots.
Down flew the black strap,
its mystery of honing
blades out of sight
no longer useful in this public
display. Punishment ahead:
hell bent over Papa's lap
for the rhythmic sting and slap
striping our thighs,
when we twisted, the innocent
blades of our backs.
The prized Rhode Island Reds
returned from the rain to their nests.

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