Saturday, 23 July 2011

Poetics: On Your Feet

Shine (sculpture) by Willie Cole
Second Hand Shoes

I stand outside the Oxfam shop
in front of rows of shoes.
I wonder, would I stand in yours,
if I had to choose?

Some tiny shoes aren’t very scuffed
because young feet outgrew them,
while those were such a comfy pair
their owner's half worn through them.

Not so these, they must have hurt;
they’re scarcely used - no speck of dirt –
and those with heels so high and thin
were never made for walking in?!

There are shoes quite narrow
and shoes like boats
with bulges made by bunions;
there are football boots that boys in specs
might tie with laces and string round their necks,
like the men who sell the onions.

See, those are the fashion of years gone by,
discarded on a whim.
Although they’re almost good as new,
it’s plain that they would never do,
for one must ‘keep up with the Jones’s.’

So all of these shoes, where invisible feet
have imprinted their character, careless or neat,
hold their stories to tell, if we listen and look,
just as clearly as if they appeared in a book.
And what would the story of our shoes be
if they, too, stood in line for the whole world to see?

Thanks go to Brian Miller  (Waystation One or dVerse poets pub) for this prompt. 
But now, I'm going to link this to I Saw Sunday, too, because the sight of those black shoes heaped into a gorilla face, underlined once again that things are not necessarily what they seem. Even the most commonplace objects can make us think again when viewed in a new light... Which is good point to ponder on any day of the week.


  1. Like you, I often look at the rows of second-hand shoes in Oxfam and wonder. Some are so completely new, you can't help musing on why they were unwanted.

  2. That arrangement of shoes is very clever, quite sinister really. Shoes bear the imprint of their wearers as much as faces reflect the lives that have been led. Who would buy worn-out shoes - I suppose they're called 'pre-worn';-)

  3. I like your spin on this prompt...thought provoking words and meaningful too. every summer, we would give away my kids shoes (and clothes) as they have outgrown them. the thought of someone using them specially friends in need, warms my heart.

    love this last line:

    And what would the story of our shoes be
    if they, too, stood in line for the whole world to see?

  4. Shoes, shoes. There is something about shoes which applies to no other piece of apparel. Often they are highly prized (and priced) fashion items, status symbols.

    I expect the new looking ones in the Oxfam shops are all mine: I have often been too ambitious in shoe shops, tried on new shoes on smooth carpets and walked a few steps to the mirror. Once in everyday use, they proved cripplingly unwearable and off they went after a year or so of languishing in your boxes, to the charity shops.

    I agree, this is a clever sculpture.

  5. I'd love to know the stories behind all those shoes! You've told it wonderfully here, thank you!

  6. There are a lot of different types of shoes and the great stories you've told. Great response to the prompt.

  7. great poem 2nd hand shoes must always have a story but personally I'd rather wonder about the stories than wear someone elses shoes,lovely poem thank you

  8. what story would our shoes tell if they could...hopefully mine would say little about the

  9. this brings up very good questions, much to ponder :)

  10. I am afraid Jinksy that mine would all be sensible shoes these days - my heels days are long since past (unfortunately)

  11. I recently gave a pair of brand new and very expensive shoes to a charity shop because I really needed the next size up and whoever gets those shoes will have a real bargain. My poor toe is still recovering from the ordeal of being pushed into that shoe! Never again. I will place a heel pad in the smaller foot shoe in future.
    Easy after the event, isn't it?
    I love the sculpture and the poem!

    Maggie X (with the two sized feet!)

    Nuts in May

  12. You have made me think about shoes. Oh the stories they could tell about the paths they walked. Our shoes or others!

  13. Wonderful poem Jinksy! and I didn't realise until I went back and looked at the sculpture that iT was actually made of shoes - I must be a bit slow today, maybe this is my sunday speed. LOL

    Really enjoyed this Jinksy, thanks very much for linking to I Saw Sunday, it is always good to have you on board. :-)

  14. this is wonderful. i wonder too what lives used things have had before. what a neat sculpture too!

  15. I wonder the same when I see those shoes in 2nd hand stores. When I donate shoes, I always wonder who would wear my old shoes? Thought provoking poem!

  16. Very clever sculpture. I have always thought that shoes should be bought new, as no two people have the same feet. Having said that, I do give my unwanted shoes to the charity shop.

  17. Wonderful thoughtful poem. A good I Saw Sunday, too. As for that sculpture! Wouldn't like to have to dust it...

  18. How many of us would get out the polish and perfume before the reading can begin?

  19. AKA Tom Eliot:

    I really enjoyed this poem - it really hit the right nerves.

    And you included one of my all time favourite words ever...bunions...RESPECT!

    A really good read Jinksy.

  20. "there are football boots that boys in specs
    might tie with laces and string round their necks,
    like the men who sell the onions."

    A trip to Oxfam has never been quite like this. Brava, jinksy!


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