Friday, December 4, 2009

The Shoes You Threw Up There

My house is situated in an older part of the town of Gladstone, a totally residential neighborhood, a mix of older and newer lower value houses and on my street at least duplexes. This neighborhood is only a couple blocks from Gladstone’s main streets, Dartmouth and Portland Avenue, which splits the town into east and west. I am a duplex of sorts too, taxed a little unfairly because the other domicile is really a studio apartment though it is in a stand alone building. I cannot rent it for a price fair to the taxes. Nearby there are apartments where once there were only houses, some older and some newer. Some of the older householders here lament how the neighborhood has gone downhill. Really though, I think it’s a pretty good neighborhood, and I am friends with the neighbors next door to the left and across from them. The neighbor across and to my right is caring for my old cat now and my cat gets to be much warmer there in the laundry room instead of here in my garage. I have taken to feeding Hellboy on my porch. He’s the feral cat who lives on that neighbor’s porch. It’s only fair.

It has gotten colder. With a nod to my friends in Whitehorse and Mendenhall, it gets dark at 5:30, not 3:30, and by colder I mean above freezing still. The goldfinches have regained their bright yellow breasts for some reason. They flock around my feeder still, and the Canada geese herds are still mining the grassy verges on the road. A hundred or so gather sometimes, with two or three on watch while the rest dig for food. I love the geese from a distance. They do not love us, but they do trust we will stay in our cars.

There is a school, Gladstone High School not far to the northeast. Due east three blocks is an elementary school and behind it Gladstone’s main park where every year the city fair is held. We have a parade, you know, just as we did in the Willamette neighborhood where I lived before. On the high wires of a couple nearby intersections are one tied pair of sneakers each, dangling there for years now. I watch them slowly degrade in the seasons. They have held up quite well.

There. I hardly allowed any sentence fragments in this post. That better, Mom? This is her house I live in. She bought it to be near me in her last years, since Lees Summit, near Kansas City, Missouri where my sister still lives because Mom lived there once turned out to be mean streets for her.

The Shoes You Threw Up There

I couldn't throw them
today, not if I tried, not
to save my old life.

Shoes across the wire
take shoulders that swing easy
to toss them high up
and over to stay.

My shoulders complain often
now, and so the rest
as well, twinges that
speak clearly of the sometime
journey I will take.

March 02, 2009 2:15 PM


  1. I have had enough of these journeys just lately...quite quite enough.

    Love you xxx

  2. I often see those shoes and wonder about their story.

    We are having our first snow and I am watching the birds enjoy the new feeders and seed mix.

    My cats are burrowed in blankets someplace and I'm still in my flannels...

  3. Oh, I remember this one! One of our poetry conversations. Lovely! It's cold here today; so cold I don't think the shoestrings would want to wrap around the wire and hang limply like they should.

  4. In light of such journeys Christopher, I want you to know that you have made a difference to my life. Somehow, through your writing, I have visited places inside of me that I needed to go to, just when I needed to go there.

    I know this is god stuff and I just wanted you to know that. From me. I know you already do for yourself.

    Just that....


  5. The shoes, Teri, are no mystery to me. They are usually some kid messing with some other kid. Once they're up there the kid has to explain to Mom how he lost them. He usually can't just name the other kid, because that would be snitching, a death sentence on the playground.

    That's where I learned you don't snitch no matter what, even though they tell you it's even against the law. I reply what law? The law of getting by amongst the kids is, don't snitch. I don't even think it a juvenile thing. I think its a tribal thing and connects with millions of years of human development, a survival thing through most of our history and it is probably genetic.

    It is really strong in me.

    Rachel, yes in Whitehorse I suspect the extremes of weather and temperature would stress the shoestrings more and might lead to failures quicker. I love our poetic conversations, especially when there is a volley of three or four.

    Michelle, it has to be a God thing since I don't really write that carefully, except to censor the garbage when I know it is garbage. I don't doubt it happens. I am grateful to serve you and God in that way. I think it is the best we can do for each other and it is what I call Witness in the most dynamic sense, when we see each other for real. We probably cannot do that without an assist from God. We wouldn't have the courage. When I see you, you also see me. I am here to Witness if I can. What I think the best poetry does at least in part.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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