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The Boy with the Dirty Dreds
By Christine Stoddard
Rashard always tucked his tiny fists into his coat sleeves,
ready to propel them forward into a fast punch at
any kid who talked badly about his eight brothas and sistas.
Rashard was tall for a six-year-old but still small.
His chubby cheeks and sweet vacant eyes belied his meanness.
They bulged like his purple lips.
Rashard was a caged dog
who had been kicked too many times,
but still found the rare occasion to wag his tail.
One day, his mama walked into class wearing
a Shell polo, stinking of gasoline,
missing her front teeth,
and bearing a Happy Meal in her soiled hands.
The other kids called her “ugly.”
To Rashard, she was the deity of Mickey D's.
Rashard was always the first kid to punch me
and the very first to hug me.
He smelled of unwashed skin and
his dreds were always dirty.
Christine Stoddard is the Executive Editor of Quail Bell Magazine. This poem comes from her forthcoming collection, The Children of Jackson Ward.