Two poems by Kim Suttell

My Shoes Betray Me

I wear a plainly embroidered blouse.
The skirt I bought at the tram-stop newsstand.

I bought shampoo there, too.
The bag for peppers

is the same one they all use.
I paid five stotinki.

And my first-world status
doesn’t extend for me

the limited choice of cheese.
I share a layer of coal soot

with everyone else,
men with coffee, stray dogs.

The half-assembled cityscape
crumbles under construction.

in no aspect is newness
or selection apparent

except in my shoes.  I think
if I stay mute I might be part

of what is not noticed—
absent plaster, missing banisters,

pilfered grates, and effort.
In my life, I will never

have to try so hard.
The dull curry-curdle color

painting every other structure
pains to be sunny.

The café strains for comfort
with two menu items.

Little girls bear up
under assiduous ribbons.

I wear easiness not washed out
even in the same caustic detergent.


Around the corner extends a minor canyon.
Hear an Aaron Copeland swell. Course
a swallowing sidewalk of lost paving stones,
mud gullies, dust and buckle, unsuitable for tricycles

and old women who man day care centers
where children swing on rails of pipe
and chip concrete from porch steps.
A street for lumber-trudge families

on the edge of America, wedged
in the middle of it. Row houses,
like trail mules banked for service,
linger on a high voltage tether:

Doleful windows, slack, shaggy siding,
tarpaper saddles, a bray and a tinkle of bells.
All haunch-shift idle in heave-halt descent.
Trek home without looking up.

About the author

Kim Suttell, born in California, has crisscrossed the USA many times and landed in New York City. She is a returned Peace Corps volunteer…

Read the full bio

Issue 20 · May 2014

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