“Presidential Fitness Test” by Bill Hollands

Ekphrastic Challenge, April 2020: Editor’s Choice


photograph of a banana hanging on a hook against a yellow and black wall

Image: “Mund” by Laura R. McCullough. “Presidential Fitness Test” was written by Bill Hollands for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, April 2020, and selected as the Editor’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Bill Hollands


Every year we’d suit up for the ritual
humiliation. Seven demonstrations
of my inadequacy for the red-
faced phys ed teachers. Pull-ups
were the worst. I’d eke out one then
fall to the ground and look up
from the dirt at the underside
of their clipboards. Girls did
“hang time” instead, and in 4th grade
Laura Lugar hung in there
for hours. Like a banana
on a hook, she thrust her chin
over the metal bar, curled her body
into a crescent and didn’t
budge. We went back to class
and in between decimals and
diagramming sentences the teacher
let us go back outside and have
another look at Laura. In my mind
she’s hanging there still in her yellow
uniform against the black dirt
and the pale of the morning sky.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
April 2020, Editor’s Choice


Comment from the editor, Timothy Green: “I just couldn’t keep from smiling, thinking about this clever comparison of the banana on a hook to a 4th grader doing ‘hang time.’ Poetry’s job is to help us see the world a little differently, and this poem does that, delightfully.”

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