Walking in America
wearing its mandatory shoes
hurts. They don’t fit but because
they are superficially pretty
and match the rest of the outfit
people try to tell you your feet
are the problem. It’s fixable, they say.
Having tried on and even worn
dozens of the annual versions
of America’s shoes, you disagree.
You keep walking
in pain. Shoes
full of blood, shoes
lined with gun metal.
Finding others like you whose walk hurts
in the same way yours does
is nearly tragic most days.
Finding a place where others
have stopped to kick them off,
even briefly for quick respite,
is its own kind of ache.
The problem, you say, is the shoes, not the feet,
but even some of your fellow striders
who’ve stopped beside you on the street
to pull the cursed shoes off and rest
say the next version will fit at last.
They’re finally getting it right. Look at
how much progress we’ve made, how
far we’ve come. The walk ahead may be
daunting, but we’ve certainly left
all the bloody footprints we need
to show the way.
When you refuse to
tie the shoes back on, they’ll be the first
to stomp your bare feet until you are dead or
so crushed you might as well be, so you
stop trying, drag yourself to the nearest funeral home
(because you can’t even limp there)
where they’ll box you up, hide your feet,
burn or bury you and call you a martyr
long before you are in fact dead,
when all you ever wanted
was to get home
without screaming inside
at every step.