ELEGY FOR SHOELESS JOE

by Dan Leach

 

Joe, I believe you.

Forget history.
History’s a clenched fist
Holding nothing
For its strays.

Let the shits have history.
I am looking into your eyes, Joe.
And I believe you.

Here’s the thing:
Some bastards aren’t happy
Until they take your shoes.

Such men mount them
On the wall above their sad desks
And gloat like weak kings
When asked to tell the story.

Such men feast
On your scandal
For so many fallow years.
I don’t know why.

I don’t know why
They call it music
To hear you scratching at the door.
I think they love to feel the key
In the center of their soft palm.
Maybe your crawl
Is some kind of calamine
For a scab big daddy never scratched.

But forget them, Joe.
Let’s go find Lazarus.
He’ll give language to this pain.

Joe, let’s go find Jesus.
I’m told He loves the lonely,
That He Himself was a stray.
I’m told He crawls
To meet the wasted ones,
That He walked alone
On the forgotten roads
Outside the city lights.

Joe, forget the names
We’ve always answered to.
We’ll find new ones
Where we’re going.
We’ll look for sounds
Aimed at more that separation.

Because here’s the thing:
We can’t fight their fight.
We must make room
For a larger kind of love.
We must unclutter our hearts
Of all this anger and self pity.

No more drinking whiskey
And hoping they will stumble.

No more dreams of coming back
And finding that open door.

No more throwing rocks at the moon
And praying someone hears.

Even if we beat the bastards
Who took our shoes,
New ones would take their place.
There’s no shortage of small beings
Starved for the sound
Of your next fall.

Forget them, Joe.

Let’s go find Elvis.
Let’s ask him how to die
And then forget,
How not to dream of home
When you’re in the wilderness
And not one of your new friends
Knows your real name
Or suspects you don’t belong.

 

[Read more of Dan Leach’s poems]

[Check out Dan’s back porch wisdom here]