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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A Semi-Literate Boy Named Bobby

I was a project kid, pretty but hard to make.

Most of the men I let into my life started in pursuit but stayed as teachers.

I was bright and gave my full attention to any man who was willing to teach me about the world of art.

The music I knew was the music of my parents and the other kids in the projects.

From my Father I got Porter Wagoner, Buck Owens, and Skeeter Davis.

From my Mother I got Dinah Shore and Kitty Wells.

From the other kids in the projects I got Motown.

With the music of Motown I learned I could dance and for me dancing is still spiritual.

Everyone said I moved like a black kid, and it was true.

Black folks were my friends and neighbors.

As far as I was concerned I was a Black kid with pale skin.

I figured that Blackness was as much about class as it is about race.

My friend Paul knew I knew my ‘place’ in Charleston’s antiquated class system and that I wanted out.

Paul lived in the rich part of Charleston; the historic district near Battery Park.

He invited me to lunch one especially bright spring day.

He poured tea and showed me a decorative plate that was inlaid with hundreds of shimmering butterfly wings.

Paul liked exquisite objects.

We stepped onto the patio that overlooked his garden and I brought a branch of wisteria to my nose.

Paul said that he wanted me to hear a record.

He said he wanted my opinion.

Then he placed the Beethoven Violin Concerto in D Minor on the turntable.

I heard the needle drop, and then a timpani followed by woodwinds.

I listened as Beethoven told me a story.

I had never heard a story more complex and profound.

It was more beautiful than anything I had ever seen or touched.

And I never stopped listening….

Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61

by Yehudi Menuhin, violin Wilhelm Furtwangler, cond Philharmonia Orchestra of London Recorded: 1953

  1. Allegro ma non troppo

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A Flight of Ideas: The Coke Conspiracy

No. Judy doesn’t love me.  And I don’t love her.

Her job is to help me do my job and in that way
our jobs are secure.

Together we could climb a summit of immense
dimensions!

I lay on the mat in the seclusion room and
considered the War in Viet Nam.

Had the hippies ended it or was it economics?

I mean, had the peace movement become another
hot property, or was it a brand?

I mean, why would Coke want to teach the World
to sing?

How much money does Coke make if everyone
in the World buys everyone in the World one
Coke per day?

I quickly do the math: 7.2 billion people x $2.65
USD per can of coke = $19.08 billion USD!

Per day!

Why is a man who understands Coke’s conspiracy
to end World hunger in a seclusion room?

I called to tell Judy; she had to know my secret!

But she was washing broccoli out of her hair.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2017 All Rights Reserved.

Strange Dream #12

The snake yawns wide and shows its venom glands.

He is a large scaly ES on the queen sized bed in room 314.

“Ssunlight is an abomination.” sighs the snake.

“Oh fuck off!” snaps the dog with a twitch of his tail. “The whole
day  is an abomination!”

“I know where the Garden iss.” says the snake.

“So you’ve said,’ replies the dog, “where is it, again?”

“In Manhattan, marked by the statue of the unknown bodybuilder.
Every Christmass true believerss ice skate to celebrate his musscles.”

“So, how come you don’t live there?”

“I got tossed by a blast of righteousness.  God did a shimmy-shake and
I landed here with Frank. God was jealouss: I got a piece of the woman.”

The dog’s tail twitches again.

“Howss about you?” asks the snake. “How did you get here?”

“I was a happy Lab, bounding and slobbering and bouncing when suddenly a Toyota Celica flattens me. Frank peeled me up and nailed me to this here wall.

Frank’s a good sort really, taking us in like this.”

 

(c) Rob Goldstein 2015-2017 all rights reserved

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