The Fourth Notch of the Bible Belt

On dirt roads, pulled over at wide open fields

or closed in forests, boys whispered delicious words,

and when we touched their lips, they

tasted of Dr. Pepper with a hint of mint Copenhagen.

We steamed windows, we licked our lips,

bit onto the lower one, wanting more.

In the church, the pastor spoke of wicked sins,

of the devil who could speak through any tongue

while the women were to remain silent,

unable to lead prayer, knowing their place,

avoiding those temptation that lie

on dirt roads.

At school, we read old history books with our parents' names

still hand-printed in the front cover,

books full of deleted truths, like how only the men

were heroes, no mention of strong female leaders,

not even a sidebar, as if they didn’t exist.

Only men were creators, inventors of items that progressed our nation.

Perhaps too wicked for our ears that these women existed,

and we were told that what we really needed to learn,

we learned in the church.

At home, Mama locked herself in her room.

Papa was at the liquor cabinet again,

and when I came home, he asked me

Who was I all whored up for?

even though I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

His hand was shaky and missed its full target,

only hitting the bottom of my jaw and lip.

Funny how this subject never came up

at school.

Even the metallic taste of blood could

not cover the Dr. Pepper and mint Copenhagen,

and I longed to kiss that boy’s lips again,

to have his hands on my body,

to try out that wicked sin they talked about at church,

to delete the truths like they did at school

from nights like this at home,

and to be in that boy’s arms

on dirt roads.


Angela Spires is a writer, teacher, and mother. She teaches at The Davidson Academy and for multiple universities. She has published flash fiction and poetry in multiple journals. She moved to Reno ten years ago and fell in love with the city. Her favorite activity is spending time with her daughter, who inspires her every day.