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Sucking Thumb

A cloth wrapped a thumb

in pepper,
Mama said,
“Sucking a thumb is not
suitable for a lady.”

But, she let a
boogie man
into my room when she
left a window wide open;
on a Friday night –
Joe Lewis was fighting in the parlor,

on the television, upstairs, televisions were scarce.

Reckon a boogie man
took note how poor we were,
it was nineteen fifty-six –

Wonder if he knew
Papa had to borrow
a rich man’s car to
deliver his son
to his grave? Way before I came along –

For a few days – no one
wrapped my thumbs in pepper.

We made the newspaper, I saved it
all these years.


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