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Cover Library Poetry A Hot January

Green shoes and other poems

Duane Locke
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The hoof prints
Were sold
As being buffalo hoof prints,
Although they were not,
Only ink blots
Designed for a price by someone
Who had never seen a buffalo.
But the wearer of the thin cloth
When he looked in the mirror
Saw the black designs,
Could hear the sounds of buffalo hooves on the prairie,
See the dust arise from under their feet.
The sound was overpowering,
The T-shirt wearer puts his hands over his ears.
He saw himself
Riding without a saddle a spotted pony.
She took off her green pastel shoes,
“What shall I do with them?”
She held her shoes in her hands.
I was wondering why this concern
Over a matter so commonplace.
I replied, “Throw your green shoes
On the white rug, green and white
Often make exciting combinations.”
She looked at me, puzzled and perplexed.
I thought it might be something psychological,
Her giving all this attention to shoes.
So I suggested that if she did want
To confront the evidence that she was barefooted
To throw the shoes under the bed.
She said, “You do not understand.”
I could not understand what she referred to,
What was it that I could not understand.
She threw the shoes into the air;
The green shoes stayed suspended in the air.
Then I knew I did not understand. I did not understand.
The real
During the impressionist moment
Thought to depend
Upon atmospheric conditions,
Thus a hay stack
In a twenty-four hour day
Could be many realities.
I suppose this is way the Greeks
In their plays
Used masks
Rather than faces
For the expression of emotions,
For the Greeks,
Except the Sophists,
Were absolutist and logo-centric,
Desiring to believe
In fixity and a self.
When faces express feelings,
Every feeling expressed
Makes someone become someone else,
And thus a sense of self is lost.
The person that one intensely loves vanishes
And is replaced to vanish again and again
According to sociological
Or atmospheric conditions.
Prudence was a type of dance,
A dance
Without music,
A dance,
Solemn, sincere, severe
As are the movements of a man with a lawn mower,
Who brags to himself
That is he improving the earth
By destroying the growth of a living thing.
I suppose it was the same way with Henry VIII
When he had women beheaded,
He thought he was improving England.
Some people know the price of milk.
I don’t.
I just keep trying to subdue the punishment of aging,
And avoiding conversations in car washes.
This always happens to me,
I start off being profound,
End up being silly;
But becoming silly
Is always the result of being profound.
In the car wash my lover and I
Were discussing the virtue of prudence
And the price of milk.
I never saw her again.
No wind. Moss hanging from cypress was still,
The moss’ shadow crossed cow dung
That blazed gold in the noon sun.
The shadow was in the shape of a albatross.
By a log fence, a leaky rowboat
Was transformed into a flower bed,
Inside the rim, black dirt and black violets.
Atop the black, a lady bug opened orange wings.
An old battered bucket beside a cedar
Sent out over the surrounding bare gray ground
A shadow that looked like
A bee and butterfly hovering over a fern.
An old man playing an old cornet,
Paused on the path, asked, “What is the picnic?”
I told him that I did not know,
I was a stranger and was lost.
Table of related information
Copyright ©Duane Locke, 2002
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Date of publicationMarch 2003
Collection RSSA Hot January
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