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









The Bus Trip: The Delegates

The Delegate
The Delegate from the U.S,

12/30 – New Orleans

Miguel left without saying goodbye and three new people
moved into the dorm.

Lar is 24 and from what we used to call East Germany.

He took the bunk above mine.

Peter comes from what we used to call West Germany.

He took the lower bunk across the room.

Rob is 25 and comes from Liverpool.

He bunked above Peter.

Rob called us The Delegates

“The bombing shall begin at Noon!” He said officiously

Lar fired a pencil in response. He was the delegate from Germany.

I was the American delegate; my job was to pretend I cared.

Everyone fired pencils when Rob insisted he’d never heard music by the Beatles.

We declared a truce and took a taxi to the Club Brazil on Chartres St.

I know how ya’all love that dead meat!

The band was named Snake and the music was fierce.

The lead singer dressed like Billie Holiday and sang like Janis Joplin.

She plucked a paper magnolia from her thick black hair and tossed
it to the crowd.

The crowd was ecstatic.

“Are you ready for some Snake” she laughed.

“Yes!” roared the crowd.

Someone passed her a bottle of whisky and she drank.

“Are you ready for ME?”


The band struck up and we danced.

Chartres Street
Chartres Street

Snake rocked for almost an hour.

Then the lead singer raised her hands the music stopped.

Someone gave her a lace hand fan; she took it and languidly fanned herself.

Her voice was smooth and seductive.

“Any Catholics out there?” she asked.

“YEEESS!” sang the crowd.

She gasped, batted her eyes, and fanned herself.

“I know how ya’all love that dead meat!”

“YEEESS!” Almost everyone laughed.

Lar gave her a bottle of Champagne.

She took a swig and sprayed the crowd.

“How ’bout some live meat?”

She took another swig of Champagne.

“Wanna little live meat?”


The Delegates were drenched in Champagne at the foot of the stage.

“I love you!” shouted Rob

“WE LOVE YOU!” shouted the crowd.

Crash of drums!

And we danced.

RG 2015-2016



The Bus Trip -It’s TAPS in El Paso

Lindas Estas Borracheras
A Night at TAPS


The newest arrival at the Hostel in El Paso is a 35-year-old Aussie named Peter Lapis.

Peter convinced me to a group of dudes at the Ramada Inn to drink brews and cruise chicks.

The other dudes are a German, nicknamed the Viking,  a Brazilian, Miguel, and a Frenchman, Craig.

The thought of going to the Ramada Inn for anything struck me as perverse; the thought of going to cruise chicks and drink brews seemed excessive.

The feeling I had as we made our way through the sleet and wind of El Paso that night was one of camaraderie.

Peter passed me a blunt and the fetters of gay identity and middle age slipped away.

It was Friday night.

We entered the lavishly orange lobby of the downtown Ramada Inn and commandeered an elevator to the bar.

We lined up and ordered our drinks.

The DJ spun “Sexual Healing.”

“I love these musics!” said Craig.

Craig, Miguel and I made a clump at one end of the bar while Peter and
the Viking passionately cruised chicks at the other.

“You like this music?” Miguel asked Craig.

Craig replied, “Oh yes! I love the American 50s! Elvis Presley, Petula Clark,” Craig beamed at me, “Do you like these musics?”

“I love Marvin Gaye,” I said. “But I don’t think Petula Clark was a singer from the American 50’s.”

Craig winked and sipped his beer.

The DJ spun Jingle Bell Rock.

“These is the best musics,” Craig continued, “America’s gift to the World!” he turned to me and raised his glass, “Don’t you think so?”

The beer made me extravagant: “There would be no American musics without the Beatles.” I proclaimed.

“Ah!” Craig raised his glass, “America’s greatest gift!”

The three of us laughed.

Peter Lapis leaned down the bar toward us: “Dudes! Let’s go into Juarez.”

I was game.

“Too cold.” Miguel said.

“I think there is no adventure in this group!” boomed the Viking, “Den we go to Taps.”

We arrived at Taps to the sound of Linda Ronstadt: “PORE UN AMOR!”

“PORR UN AMORRRRR!” sang the drunken crowd.

Peter chose our booth so he could see the waitress who worked the table. “Nice ass.” he said as she left to get our pitcher of beer.

I noticed that what he said was true when she returned with the beer and left with five generous tips.

Pero que bellas paso las horas vaciando botellas


I woke at Noon to the stench of stale beer and beans, and the sight of Peter Lapis as my bunk-mate.

“Don’t drink much, do ya?” Peter asked, as I struggled to lift my head from my pillow.

Throbbing memories of the previous night played themselves out in my mind.

Mariana was the name of the waitress.

Mariana and I danced the Samba until her husband, passed out for most of the night at the table across from ours, awoke.

He did not like what he saw my hips say to his wife.

He swung at me, punched the Viking instead, and an international brawl ensued to the tune of Y Andale.

Mariana begged us to leave before the police arrived.

“PORE UN AMOR!” I sang as the bitter winter winds of El Paso blew across my face.

Peter was responsible for getting me safely to bed.

“Don’t drink much, do ya?” Peter asked.

(c) RG 2016







…and ready to be President



photo of a san francisco protest sign that reads women are not bitches and hoes
I modified the sign by adding the words, ‘and ready to be President’.

It is often asserted that as woman has always been man’s slave–subject–inferior–dependent, under all forms of government and religion, slavery must be her normal condition. This might have some weight had not the vast majority of men also been enslaved for centuries to kings and popes, and orders of nobility, who, in the progress of civilization, have reached complete equality.

SUSAN B. ANTHONY, introduction, History of Woman Suffrage