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The Boy Who Fell In Love with Shoes

Alex Chambers


Where Wood Comes From Is a Popular Question in My House

The callus at the base of my left pinkie toe has grown

           into a shameful public knowledge

                                   everywhere talked about

nowhere addressed except Libya, in the peacemaking bombs, and Oregon,

          in the spruce felled for the building of homes

and/or houses like the one I plan that will solve all my problems.

           Sing, soffits and girders, of the trials

                                   of youngish Alex

whose offering was fabrication, while Dubai's black box drank

Freon from men's lips. Remember to deliver

the jars to Jason on the way to work. Remember the light

           from Bonnie's windows into the woods,

                                   which is the difference

between patience and too much planning. Poplar, oak: Indiana.

Sprucepinefir: Canada. The imperfect cousin is good

enough. For government work I'll take the nerdy engineer

           in the unseasonable cold of late March

                                   as the sap starts

to rise again and again, my love, I'm sorry. I was tired of the fan

keeping us warm. I had to build a conceit.

All's continuation until collapse. All's destruction until the hewing

           of logs overtakes the poem, the analysis, the screen-lit

                                   direct deposit,

biweekly, stolen sunrise server, debt hegemony and picking

up milk at the farm. I talked to Jason. Turn's out

material is cheap these days so cutting timber yourself is costly.

           The fluid in my father's eye is easy to forget when

                                   I'm not next

to him, his nose in the way, half-blinding. Even cheaper than time.

           That's economics now, going stale on the counter,

drying out by the wood stove. Where do I go from here, I ask,

           hoping for some sort of compromise where

                                   I don't become

a peasant too quickly. Ease me into integrity when

           we finally run out of modern life, 'kay?

There's still the constant talk show in my head; whether

           it's Amy Goodman or life lessons

                                   with Christian Lance

I miss the turn to the barn and the bald eagle crossing

           the street up there. Flying, I mean—careening

through the air like Unthinking Alex. To think, I think,

           is to see, not to chatter box

                                   my shadow's lubed

and luscious axles. Oh, to hew. Oh how. But no, where

           work runs thick, you stay with your in-laws,

who are lovely people, but still.


The Boy Who Fell in Love with Shoes

One reading has it as a warning tale

of the Resurgence of Material that began,

historians generally agree, in late 2029

with the Third and Final Crash. Others see

a harmless entertainment about the ghosts

of desires, a magical father turning slowly

human, as fathers do—never diminishing

in intent to harm or heal as the sandbags fill,

dragging them down to stumble

along Vernal Pike. Their bare feet eventually

getting tough. In one version the Reeboks

take him by the hand and demonstrate

the frying of an egg; in another it's Mooshoes

Veganware buying him Mini-Truckin'

Magazine with its indoor bikini girls,

because history repeats love. My family

is kinda like me, he says before the climax

of the tale. They only read the fairy stories

about money. When you care about something

as much as I do, it'd better be accumulation

by dispossession, the way shoes wrench

style from Filipino babies and in personhood

soak me, unto death or mortal sickness

or going to the woods to live simply,

to confront only the essential facts of Chicago

summers' sweat and desire. Scholars'

attempts to reconstruct the authorial history

have been to no avail. They don't even know

how it ends, as the denouement was typed

in WordPerfect 1997, and humanity's best

computers cannot open the file. Errors

occur. Dictators apologize. Guatemalan

activists are shot in their canoe on their way

home to being busy, distracted fathers.

One teenager's attempt to imitate a t-shirt

is another's entry into an overexposed market.

Scholars apologize. We didn't know,

surrounded here by discourse and argument,

how lonely a kid could be.

All rights reserved to Alex Chambers

Illustrations by Meghan Irwin

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