Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mike's Got Shoes

Mike’s Got Shoes

No stickball, jacks, no time for games of tag
just walk the starvling streets and look for work,
run an errand for the Turk,
for the banker sweep a corner, find a rag
and get a penny,
just one lost among too many.
A penny buys the baby milk.
'Fraid Ma will never dress in silk.

Old eyes watch from a grown man’s face,
a child’s body small and wiry.
Hands are cut and callused, hunger’s fiery,
ignored but never missing from the race,
riding always in the belly,
turning thin legs into jelly.
but it’s no good to stop and cry.
No one luckier’s passing by.

Jacob yells and asks his brother for a hand
to fill a basket with the broken bits he’s found
Otto doubts the use, his mouth turned down.
Frankie’s dreaming that he’s playing in a band.
Who’ll run twenty blocks to check the news?
There might be work uptown, and Mike’s got shoes. 

November 2010
Posted for One Shoot Sunday at the inimitable One Stop Poetry

Depression era photo  prompt provided by One Stop Poetry.  Source Link


  1. The faces of the four boys by themselves are a dark poem. You've wrapped a story around the faces. Nice one.

  2. This sounds somewhat Tom Waits-ish to me, and that's a good thing. ("Blue Valentines" is my favorite.)

    You've infused hard practicality--the one with shoes runs uptown--with poetry. For some reason, your use of the name "Turk" pleases me...there is always someone around with a nickname like that, that even his mother calls him by. Only his nana calls him Jerome, or Edwin, or whatever his Christian name is.

    Blogger is choosing not to let me see the accompanying picture. She has drawn me back into her skirts and covered my eyes.

    Enjoyed this. I can almost feel the street dust.

  3. @FB I remember Waits mostly from covers and the backup he did on my favorite Bonnie Rait song- (your Sweet & Shiny Eyes/are like the stars above Laredo/like meat & potatoes/to me..." classic.)but I know he's good so thanks for the compliment. Let me relink the photo--I imported it into my prehistoric Word set-up to look at while I wrote, and it may not play well with Blogger or her skirts.

    @Glynn Thanks. I enjoyed your contrast/parable-poem as well.

  4. nice! loved the very real possible dynamics being played in the streets. enjoyed it very much!
    thank you

  5. i love that you gave them names - makes it very personal - and you noticed, only one got shoes..didn't see it at first focus where the eyes. i think it's amazing how many different views we get from different people, looking at the same picture. great!

  6. You're a story teller. I loved it, and had to read it again! Especially the last line. Blessings.

  7. That was really cool how you constructed a poetic story from the photo. Wonderful use of characters and description.

  8. Great title. I like that you gave the boys personhood and names, so that while they speak for all through a rather iconic image, they retain narratives of their own. You achieve a nice rhythm, too, with rhyme.

  9. Nicely done, personalizing the strife all face here.

  10. Brilliant. Love that final stanza and especially the final 2 lines. Great finish.

  11. I too like how you gave the boys names and then made the shoes part of the poem -- and the reason why.

    Wow -- great work!

  12. Thanks all. Everybody's take on this was just a little different, as always, and that's what makes it so interesting. Appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to share your thoughts.

  13. You made the photograph live and breathe...

  14. doing what they can.
    i like the old games mentioned.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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