Bio Note: I live in Montclair, NJ and work as a fundraiser for public television. My poems have appeared in a number of online and print journals including The Cortland Review, The Journal of New Jersey Poets and The Paterson Literary Review. My chapbook Sleepwalking Home was published in 2017 by Dancing Girl Press.
My father hollered at my mother, and raised his fist. Frances, find the child a karate class! Karate would have made me strong and unafraid: able to fend off my tormentors with a kick— those girls who blocked the fourth-grade classroom door, and spat my last name on playground asphalt. At nine, my father gave me his secondhand Uncle Henry, when a band of older boys, throwing rocks, started to follow me home after school. He didn’t show me how to use it and I didn’t dare take it out. The boys could have turned the knife on me. There were no karate lessons, but in time I came to know that my father was a bully, too, and he had been bullied, in turn. His father used the belt if he dared expel an asthmatic wheeze. Bullies hate themselves, but I would have loved for my father to show up, to bellow: That’s ENOUGH! He would have made those boys disappear.
©2020 Jennifer Poteet
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