Vicious Games

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The boys of my neighborhood
dreamed of escaping middle Texas.
We wanted to see some exotic land,
such as Kansas or the Sooner State.
Simple rules seeped by osmosis
into our unformed brains.
At our most eloquent,
we said, “Fair is fair.”
We played vicious games:
no television, few radios,
no soccer, no Little League.
We graduated from marbles,
hide and go seek, red rover,
and kick the can.
We played one and over,
flip up and flop over,
Spanish fly, a naughty game.
Someone was always It,
and someone was always
at the bottom of the pile.
The rules, known by everyone,
assumed that when the bell rang
for the end of recess or lunch,
the boys down had no commitment
to remain, even if someone was in the air,
depending on having a body to break his fall.
We tore down the nests of wasps
who were guilty of defending their homes,
had clod wars and fist fights,
killed sparrows with slingshots,
splattered jackrabbits with twenty twos
and doves with four ten shotguns,
beat rattlesnakes with sticks.
We deemed all snakes, all spiders,
poisonous and dangerous enemies.
We were as brave as bulls,
as foolish as matadors.
Through God’s grace and benign neglect,
we grew and acquired adult appearances.
We all survived for old men to send us
to play vicious games on beachheads
against boys who never knew our names.

Bill Lovelady is a member of Helena Monthly Meeting, MT (NPYM).

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