Posted tagged ‘Shoeshine poem’


November 27, 2012



He holds his fingers, swaddled
in plastic, then linen, with the slight bend
of a benediction, sprinkling –  like so, like so-
what seems to be

After a rub
of my dark-nubbed toes, he dips
pawed fingers
into a cannister of black as thin
and deep as spiders’ bellies, fresh
widows’ skirts, sin
in tunneled night.  He is

short, born where height
adds insult
to climb, and since I’ve been perched
upon an upholstered throne, he stands
at my feet, stroking now
my blushing-if-they-could
shoe ribs.

His caress penetrates
the leather which serves as medium,
conductor–how we manage
in this unjust city–and, as he kneads,
paints, buffs, lightly lightly
whips, I think–not about what you
are thinking of right now – but of the feet
of statues,
patina-draped icons
in cathedral dim, whose feet have been supplicated
into stumps of tongue by those
seeking blessing–though here, everything’s
who blackens my uppermost sole, blesses
me, making my worn

It is something of which we do not speak.


I am posting the above rather odd re-write of an old poem for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night hosted by the wonderfully intellectually curious Claudia Schoenfeld. It’s about the very few times I’ve had my shoes shined (professionally) in New York City.  I always find it a very affecting experience, and one–and I’m not a foot fetishist (that I know of) – that I find strangely intimate and spiritually satisfying.  The shoe shine people have always been just incredibly kind.  It’s a hard job so if you do get your shoes shined – it’s worth giving about 100% tip.

I have edited this twice since first posting.  Taking out and putting back the last line!  Any thoughts?!