Ode to the Workshop Poem

Maureen Morehead

little blue shoes like birds
in a mulberry. big big alligator

your face on a billboard. but
the biggest alligator is older than

glaciers, than little blue shoes far
far from Louisville. far from

the boy who smells like old nickels
from hapless Cassandra

we watch from the sidelines.
we bend our heads over you

little ant on the windowsill.
we scribble and scribble.

we bend over backwards. each
and every one of us is biting

our fingernails. little blue shoes
you’re hurting my feelings.

lost little boy
alive in the rice paddies.

little big girl: where did the mold grow?
and the poems of Ashbery?

in the backseat of the galaxy?
little blue shoes

your breath is a drumbeat:
pretty yellow sweater: your yellow

is sunshine. pretty red coat,
what do you symbolize?

pretty big snake
we know what you symbolize.

big old-man shovel. hand to the mouth.
feet to the ground. keep it all in.

take it all out. when I say you
I’m talking to you,

little blue shoes on the feet
of our grandmothers.

and the man with the chaperone
and the vet with diseases

and the guy with his plastic doll
and the doll in the playhouse

whose brain can’t be fixed
a moment just a moment

and the body is occupied
the boy is alive in it.

it is Friday morning.
we’ve been here a lifetime.

the gingko on fourth street
has dropped all its leaves for us.

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