Dad was a wife beater
who liked to get my
seven-year-old ass drunk.
Let me suck on the
Rye whiskey soaked
Rock candy,
then act a fool,
trying to pass
for cool
and flunk.
Chicago in the 60’s,
Panthers in the news
and in the streets.
I ran through back alleys
where I learned how 
to spit,
how to get a girl,
and how to cheat.
Five-finger discounts
at the Five and Dime.
Hop the schoolyard fence
during recess,
playing hooky all the time.
It was only second grade,
that ain’t no crime.
But the ruler whistled
in the cloakroom
behind the blackboard
that swiveled.
Couldn’t sit down
the rest of the day,
as the goody two shoes
laughed at me
while I sniveled.
Although my behind healed
there are welts
on my soul
that on the inside
leave me outside
still in short pants
in the cold.

M. Zane McClellan

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