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The Leather Man | Poem

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July 15, 1999

by Ken Peters


Fourty years of ceaseless travel
from Hartford, up the Conneticut Valley,
then west on the Mohawk trail
to Rome and back he fixed pots and pans
in every town, slept in caves
and windbreaks, slowly accruing
leather patches til he was a small
mountain of crazy stitches and multihued skin.
The children sometimes threw stones
and the mothers warned of his wrath
if their admonitions were not heeded.
Fourty years in the wilderness of New England
farms and villages,
scorned, feared but useful
the butt of jokes and small town news
he followed his circut like a shuffling leather mammoth
the first year he failed to make his rounds,
dead in some lost cave,
did the children miss their target?

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