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Feb 01

Down and Out and Sideways

Whoever stole my shoes will walk
a hundred miles in pain before
regretting this perverted crime.

He or she also stole the vodka
I poured in the bartender’s absence.
The fire of downing it will scar

the throat and bend the uvula
like a tuning fork. The speech
of this thief will betray. The world

will respond with yellow sighs
and droopy green hair masking
lovelorn expressions decayed

only slightly since the Pre-
Raphaelite era. Meanwhile
I pour another vodka

and shoeless, join the crowd outside
at the picnic table. A woman
I’ve never met wraps my feet

in a pair of silk scarves, “Hermes,”
she claims. A guitarist whose stylings
I’ve long admired offers to buy

a whole fifth of vodka to ply me
into acceptance of my loss.
Now for the long trek home.

I hope the bus driver won’t ban me
for drunk and shoeless. I hope
those scarves protect my feet against

the acre of hot coals I’ll cross
before entering my rented room
and flopping blistered on the bed.

Already the stink of hot flesh
reminds me how badly I miss
the press of ego on ego.

As I weep, the guitarist pats
my shoulder and the vodka sinks
into organs that flop like flatfish.

Tomorrow I’ll have to buy new shoes.
Today I’ll suffer in any shade
of primary or pastel I choose.

–William Doreski

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