Wednesday Writing Prompts (on Sundays): Pick up that shoe and write a poem, or just pick it up

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,

their poems,

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.


Yes, Cinderella,

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?