How I Became a Black Belt

by Jeff Mondak
A week ago Sunday with weather so warm,
karate class met in the park.
We practiced our kicks, then we studied our form
and chopped at the sycamore bark.

I sat and I rested beneath that great tree
while Christopher worked on his stance.
My mind was so focused that I didn’t see
the ants marching straight up my pants.

The ants in my britches were biting me there.
The bite marks were starting to swell.
I itched, so I kicked and I clawed at the air,
then spun as I let out a yell.

I twirled and I jumped with such dizzying speed
while trying to scratch at the bites.
The teachers looked on and then quickly agreed
my skills had reached masterful heights.

For twenty-three minutes I pranced without pause.
I shrieked at each itchy red welt.
I finished at last to the master’s applause.
He bowed and he gave me his belt.

Text © Jeff Mondak, reprinted from I Hope I Don't Strike Out! published by Meadowbrook Press. Illustration © Stephen Carpenter. Any copying or use of this poem or illustration without consent is unlawful.

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