Poem by Todd Garland
Would you eschew what a shoe might construe?
Does it sound from its sole, task with its tongue,
is there puppetry where its strings are strung?
Do its eyes cast evil, is its heel well-heeled,
its tread a traitor, or its welt seem real?
Does its shank give thanks or its toe complain,
its upper up-front or its arch arcane?
Or are shoes deemed true by what they can do?
There are shoes for function, shoes for caprice,
like boots for a war or loafers for peace.
There are shoes for playing and shoes for work,
Gucci’s for the suave, clodhoppers for jerks.
If toes and “hos” make you feel coquettish,
we’ve stiletto heels to feed your fetish.
There are shoes unique and shoes generic,
and straight laced formals fit for a cleric.
There are shoes for the small, shoes for the big,
and shoes for a horse, but not for a pig.
There are shoes for the quick, shoes for the dead,
slippers for the sleepy rising from bed.
There are shoes for industry, shoes for sloth,
and black Doc Martins for vamps into Goth.
Yet it’s not the shoes but the feet they fit,
where the cut-to-the-quick of shoes is writ.
We seek what a shoe can tell us of men,
the meaning of life or the fix we’re in.
We have shoes that law and order may reign,
which tether our minds to a ball and chain.
We’ve shoes that oppress and shoes libertine,
for jack-boot fascists or flaming drag queens.
But the shoes whose bent is social control,
become orthopedics warping the soul—
or the shoes of status and shoes of shame—
the shoes of a scapegoat bearing our pain.
Safe and asunder from nature we’re shod,
now our feet do not feel the earth they trod.
Like shoes protective we’ve shoes sanitary,
but of do-good crusades pray be wary.
Though the cobblers has purged us of dirt,
in wombed artifice we are fixt inert.
Because nature is neither safe nor clean—
as fertile is not where sterile has been—
such arts imposed on the land will create
the shoes that will shod a diseased estate.
For life is a germ and beauty’s a wound—
too much of ourselves like cancer has bloomed.
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