Poverty is poisonous
and these slippers are cheap,
like plastic cups that dance in the wind
between clothing lines that hang discolored rags
for a tan beneath the heat. These slippers
belong to her.
Her soles have tasted the mud and masala
during the flood when she ran through a
stampede, mashing the primrose, the
Her soles have tasted the warm blood
of homeless civilians spilled between
alleyways of robbed door steps and misery.
No one noticed. It was worse than tasting roaches,
or bile and dung that piled by streets with no grids,
and no one to blame. The nights were long
Lanterns were scarce, unlike the mother’s
hope that lit the drowning hours with light,
as toothless infants sucked on dried nipples
vacant of fore-milk. She had learned to lay
naked; prune-like breasts exposed towards
the face of bold demons and poverty that
clawed at the females between the flames.
And her soles have tasted the stench of death
off ribbed mutts that laid sprawled on city
blocks under the colony of pestering flies.
The markets and makers of roti mocked
the beggars on the clock.
Some hissed and pissed against cement walls
intoxicated from rum and paan, spewing from
their toothless mouths. Others gawked while the
moon lay dreaming, oblivious.
And her soles have eroded from the impact against
the sizzling ground, tempting bleeding blisters;
the optimistic flesh found no comfort, no end,
but the high mileage against her breast,
the scraping sound.
And maybe it has seen more than your eyes,
more than your dreams, more than the prostitutes
who screamed from brothels, broken homes
and alleyways, and dirty clinics that operated
like a senseless machine while crickets chirped.
Some examined the Aids that housed their pretty
faces and dark gazes before the next round.
Some sat still, face ashen with grief, dragging
out the drowned.
They thought of home; shanty towns colonized
by malaria, slum dwellers orphaned by a
grotesque faith tattooed on their bloodless lips
and fat bellies. Others viewed death from the first row.
The end of each soul giving birth to the next.
And her soles have witnessed lovers on park
benches holding hands and tying tongues in union,
in matrimony, while somewhere nearby, the
adulterers mocked their fraudulent love and
And maybe it has seen villagers picketing
democratic causes, tongues protruding to the surface
of their faces, hopeless with each aim.
And maybe it won’t be a fight for the women
who lay naked in the secret brothels next door
with caved eyes, while someone enters and exits
lighting aflame the bridges of her fragile dignity.
And maybe it won’t be for the child that travels
in miles to swallow from the promised germ
These slipper dress the feet’s of broken children,
lonely futures, and hard visions that nest in the cracked
palms of a secret destiny.
These slippers drag the weight of the fat world
in her grumbling belly, carry a bundle of thoughts,
a thousand tears and the taste of grief with small strides
and big expectations.
And these slippers have trampled over dead cats
and malnourished rats piled in hollow corners
where no lights lived, willingly in the weeping
And has gazed at stretched arms
and narrow finger tips that bled from the pains
of cold labor.
These slippers have kissed
the bitter lips of poverty.
Copyright @ By Author V.S.Atbay
From The Book - Epiphany - A Collection of Poems
Publisher - Friesenpress, 2013