Prompt: “Write a poem for the inside of a shoe left lying in the gutter.”
[Fun! The editor has decided to reformat. Anyway, draft 1/2.]
A Poem for the Shoe Left Behind
I want to write a poem in this discarded shoe,
but I cannot. Instead, I will bring it home,
clean it up, or not,
and see whose foot it will fit.
This is how I grew up
addressing discarded shoes.
We were taught:
beggars cannot be choosers.
But we did neither,
begging nor choosing.
We collected what other people
We collected what other children
had once begged for
and then discarded.
Like we discarded their stories,
to create our own.
A new shoe, after all, is a new shoe
no matter how many times it has been worn.
We were not taught to fear fungus.
This is not a poem.
And there is no way in hell
Cinderella would have left that glass slipper behind.
I am not saying we don’t know shame.
Aren’t shamed for not having
bootstraps to pull up.
[No one ever discards their bootstraps
cannot let go of that magic once its made]
I am not saying
that passing or transforming
doesn’t carry the fear of being found out
laughed out, caught there between
the palace and rags
My dad bought me a brand new pair of Levi’s once
I wore them every single school day
washed them in the bathtub with dish soap
and hung them to dry,
which they never did.
But I wore them anyway.
I wore them long after
they were more worn than my second-hand pants
and added a safety pin when they no longer buttoned.
They were my new jeans, eternally.
And I never had any before.
Cinderella would have grabbed that shoe.
Even if it was ding-donging midnight
and it was supposed to disappear anyway—
which, at the palace, it didn’t.
But out where it was real
dark, almost home
she had nothing
left. Everything back to rags.
And the other night a homeless man
came in to the shelter, covered in mud
one shoe on, one shoe, he said:
Left it, stuck in the mud.
These are his only shoes.
Now, this, his only shoe.
But the next day,
after being sheltered from the cold, the rain,
the man returned for his shoe.
No shoes, no service.
I should conclude,
but I am preoccupied,
aside from it sticking in mud,
or running home barefoot chased by the
How the fuck do you not need to pick up your shoe?