Poets’ Brew – September

Dotty Armstrong

Ode to Birkenstocks 
              “Did the wide straps across the instep 
               come from a straightjacket?”
                                              Coco Chanel

I met you first in ‘68
and though I’m not a fashion plate
lost on me was your appeal
unflattering toe, homely heel.
Clunk, clunk, clunk.

You made a small foot look quite big
No trace of grace was evident.
A shoe for women who don’t care
about their clothes, about their hair.
Clunk, clunk, clunk.

I saw you again in 2010.
A little more interested in comfort then,
I thought perhaps I should give you a try.
A lot of women love you, I don’t wanna be shy.
Clunk, clunk, clunk.

So here I am, sliding my feet
onto cork soles that feel like a treat.
Trouble with toes, all kaput.
Feet feel cradled, socks or not.
Clunk, clunk, clunk.

I never knew how good you would feel
how your cork sole would cushion my heel.
So now when I slide my foot into you,
love is easy, our bond is true.
Clunk, clunk, clunk.

Claire Carpenter

Sweat and Shovels

In the quiet afternoon
our dog curls up on the couch
or stretches out full-length upon the carpet.
If she sees me change my clothes,
put on running shoes,
she will rise, tail wagging, to meet me at the door.
And dirt roads at the end of long drives
or chipmunks that run across a trail
can stir her to canine exuberance.
But in these, her middle years,
she is often content to doze at home
and dream of squirrels.

Like her, I too have likely passed the halfway mark—
more time behind us than ahead, now….
But I’ve not learned her knack for napping.
I’m restless, always,
wound tight with unsettled energy
that only work can ease–
Hard work, body work,
work that calls for sweat and shovels
or miles of empty road.

I might have been a wandering minstrel
(if I could carry a tune)
or a trader on the old Silk Road.
Riders of the Pony Express
pound out the miles like a metronome
and sleep content.
But I’ve four walls, two kids, and a steady job,
so my psyche makes up the miles
by rattling around my soul
unless hard work, body work,
the kind that calls for sweat and shovels
can calm me down.

Kathleen Smith

Calm Down

To float in oceans of mercy,
first stop thrashing. Your world
will buoy you up like the warm
Sea of Cortez or Dexter’s
liquid saxophone.

No need to backstroke, even.
You can’t swim this on your own.
So just lie back and let joy flow over
your skin. Sing out: Al Rahman, Most
Merciful, First of the ninety-nine beautiful names.

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