Mother, You Need Shoes

I would not have noticed her had the subway car not cleared
of people at Lexington Avenue.

She removed a tattered stocking cap and stuffed it
into a grimy army jacket.

She held a smudged white bag between her legs.

She reached into it and pulled out half a doughnut.

That was when I noticed her shoes.

The uppers had split from the soles; she wrapped
her feet in newspaper and rags.

I thought, Mother,  you need shoes.

I wondered if forty dollars would do.

I looked up and watched her untangle a lock of
matted grey hair.

She reached into her bag and found a bobby pin.

She styled the lock of hair into a bun

I had forty dollars.

It was for vitamins; specifically, anti-oxidants.

My body was rusting faster than a wet Ford.

The crows feet around my eyes whispered: erase us; your
happiness demands our absence.

I examined the old woman’s cracked and broken shoes;
they were useless for January in New York.

She closed her eyes, as if ready to savor a long warm ride.

Maybe she lives in the subway, I thought, like those people
in the documentary,  Dark Days.

If she never leaves the subway she doesn’t need new shoes!

My crow’s-feet said, ’Yes!’

But that can’t be right, I thought; an old woman, alone, with
nothing but a stale doughnut for dinner.

I saw myself stand, and watched as I took two twenties out
of my wallet.

Then I knelt and said, “Mother, you need shoes.”

She opened her eyes and smiled at me and
nodded in agreement.

“Will forty dollars do?”

“Yes,” she said, “God bless you.”

I gave her the money and returned to my seat, and
listened as my crow’s-feet maliciously threatened
to deepen and spread.

 

Rob Goldstein (c) 2014-2018 All Rights Reserved
First published 5/29/16
Revised 4/7/18

 

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HIS

His obvious filthy macho

His wandering gaze above the crowd

His arms are long,  he rocks his son

His legs are lean and smooth

His trench coat is long

His shredded jeans–

He stubs out his cigarette

and boards the train.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2015

 

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Affirmations for the Resistance #2

I’m an American; I’m smarter than Trump’s cheap lies

Rob Goldstein 2018

I’ll Be Seeing You – In Memory of Kit –

At Harvey Milk Plaza

My best friend Kit was a bit of a twit before he got sick, but
he was brilliant and passionate about gay liberation.
Our friendship was based on mutual geekiness.

Kit tinkered with a Mac or a Tandy while I wrote poetry and
listened to Pattie Smith through my headphones.

It was the third year of the AIDS epidemic.

We sat over coffee at the Cafe Flore on a bright
Mediterranean day in San Francisco.

Kit opened his backpack and pulled out a small computer.

It looked like a large calculator.

Kit said that HIV had not infected all gay men.

He suspected that HIV was sexually transmitted, but at that
time no one was certain.

We both knew many men who had died and even more who were sick.

Kit wanted to know what they had in common.

He questioned a small sampling of men and now he questioned me.

I.V. Drugs?

I hate needles.

Acid?

I hate acid.

Poppers ?

They smell like dirty feet.

Alcohol?

I don’t drink.

Weed?

Yes, please.

Then Kit asked me about sex.

Most of it’s icky, I replied.

Kit turned the computer around and showed me a bell curve.

It peaked in the late 1980s and declined in the 1990’s.

Kit said that what looked like new infections were actually
old ones that had advanced to end stage AIDS.

He explained that the virus had already infected most of the men in our age group who were going to die and that as they died the cases in our age group would drop.

Kit said that I would live and he would die.

Two years later Kit was diagnosed with AIDS and two years after that he died.

Kit took his own life when AIDS took his eyesight.

He had survived three bouts of Pneumocystis.

His skin was covered with Kaposi’s lesions and the lesions invaded his internal organs.

The last time I saw Kit I took his hand and told him that I was
going to miss him.

He replied that he loved me so much he’d haunt me.

We laughed together one last time and said goodbye.

Kit had introduced me to Billie Holiday.

He said that she sang from her soul.

This song is for Kit:

Billie Holiday


https://robertmgoldstein.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/04-ill-be-seeing-you.mp3

Billie Holiday – I’ll Be Seeing You
Community Audio

 

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