Week 11 entries and results

Saturday, 15 February 2014



Once again we had a wonderful selection of poems submitted for the above photograph by Chris Sims and I am getting really good feedback from visitors top the site. As one reader put it “it is lovely to see the challenge unfolding week by week”.

I am delighted to tell you that the winning poem is New York Shoe Shine by Corey-Jan Albert. In second place was The Company of Men by Elizabeth Schermund.

Poem 1

Company of Men


I’ve always enjoyed the company of men

the scent of shoe leather and

the flick of the polished rag.

Heavy briefcases that barely

contain those restless gazes

fixed on tomorrow.


I didn’t experience the rough

and tumble of little boys but

the slow pastoral of sisterhood.

My youth unfolded on the sloping

hills of England where

cows called to their calves

and nestled them to their milk.


With each new season,

another sister said her I Dos

and stole away to different births,

or perhaps the same: bellowing, crying, feeding.


It’s as if all the sensuousness of nature

had conspired to send me this message:

You’re not like them.


And so I fled trans-Atlantic.

Stuffing my valises with empty paper,

hiding under bowler hats and padded jackets,

knocking on doors that never opened,


although one finally did.

And I stepped through into lunch meetings,

shoe shinings, and the constant questioning:

Where’s your husband?


I live on the tenth floor now

with a view of the Empire and

a smattering of trees in concrete.

Age renders women invisible and

I’ve long awaited this happy obsolescence.


But I’ll tell you this:

the scent of leather helps my blood flow and

in my apartment there are

no cows, no kids, no husband.

Birth is a word for ideas or changes.

And after all of these years,

I think that’s all right.


Elizabeth Schermund


Poem 2



The eyes are polished smooth with this routine.
Smugness and dissatisfaction gleam,
Reflecting faces which are never seen.
The walking nightmare serves the stagnant dream.


Smugness and dissatisfaction gleam
In mirrors interlocked in space and time.
The walking nightmare serves the stagnant dream,
An emptiness contained in this design.


In mirrors interlocked in space and time
The meaning’s not as lost as it might seem,
An emptiness contained in this design.
Bright petals drown at midnight in a stream.


The meaning’s not as lost as it might seem,
Reflecting faces which are never seen.
Bright petals drown at midnight in a stream.
The eyes are polished smooth with this routine.


J.B. Mulligan


Poem 3

Ekphrasis On Shoe-Shine



I learnt reading newspapers

on one of those chairs

as my shoes traveled from

darkness to the black shine.

From me, the shoeshine boy

learnt the news, annotated,

subtly defused.

My father sat next to mine.

My father’s father sat next to him,

the one chair that looked

as empty as a pair of sports shoe

left abandoned on the bench

as if it could master its own destination

but it would not do so by choice.


Kushal Poddar 


Poem 4

New York Shoe Shine

A shoe shine – eight bucks? Robbery. But sure,

I have a train to catch – don’t want to miss –

but this is better than a pedicure

with all that touching. Makes my skin crawl. This


will do. What’s that? Yes, it brings back the days

when these things were important. Clothes one wears.

A handshake’s firmness. Polished shoes. It pays

to notice things like that. But now who cares


about the niceties? You think this row

of three young men and this old broad  – oh yes

at sixty-eight you think I’m old, I know –

you think we make it matter? Well, I guess.


Eight dollars? Let me give you twelve. You beat

the therapist I’ll take that train to meet.


Corey-Jan Albert


Poem 5

Spick and Span


Spick and span

and a job well done.

A freed and wandering mind,

serving those who need a break

from doing a job well done and time

to give them a freed and wandering mind.

Spick and span.


The chains only there in their minds.

Chains for those

who follow the wrong gods.

I can be cheerful, quick and efficient

my god is contentment

The god of

Spick and span

and a job well done.


Watch me, watch me

don’t turn away.

I can teach you.

You can learn

From me

and my god of



Spick and Span

and a job well done.


Angie Butler



Poem 6


I can not shine the dirty pennies from your eyes

or clean the earth clogging up your ears.

I can not remove the stench of silver from your nose,

white cloths won’t cover up the stains at your table.


I can not remove the mark of blood from your finger tips,

the taste of indifference from your tongue,

or the child’s face from the souls of your feet.

I can not rub away the history that placed you in that throne.


But your shoes I can shine like stars

and you will walk with a piece of me,

mistaking my dignity in your own gleaming reflection.


Stephanie Arsoska


Poem 7

Shoe Analyst


Look at them

I sit here

An exhibit

But an expert

At studying faces


Prim and proper Number 1

She has a seminar

She has to stay on top

She fought for women’s rights

In her day

But things have changed


Does not mean




Number 2

Of course

Plans to be president one day

By his words

And his wits

He has to plant a seed

In the electronic ear

Of all

That the Company

Is being bought over

He steps over everyone

With polished shoes

And smelly socks


Look at Number 3

He cannot take it anymore

He is going to stand on the bridge

And jump

When  they find him


His shoes will be shining lights

I wish I could help him

Tell him

If you can walk



Dear Mr. 4

Break time for him

Between Susan’s nagging

Kids screaming

Finances building

And the boss waiting

To run over him

Forever and a day

He survives

He always will


I sit on a bench

An exhibit

Rough tough


Polished toes

And hidden woes


Anita Pinto


Poem 8

Those shoes of mine
Walking around nothing maternal
Notice I did those shoes of mine
Were not clean they were dirty
Onwards I headed shop in sight
In I marched inaccessible
Difficulty struck upon me
Those shoes on my feet
Still not clean they were dirty
I sat down reading the newspaper
Seat i sat in was unnaturally warm
In my ears ringing was a faint piccolo
Soon I felt my shoes vibrating on my feet
Looked down to see
A head between my knees
Uncomfortable I felt byproduct of my mum
Abruptly the piccolo ceased
Curious I dropped my newspaper
The head shot up he shouted “finished”
Excitedly I gazed at my shoes
They were now clean no longer dirty
Happily I jumped out of my seat
Paid him with my thanks from my pocket
Embracing the cold I charged out onwards
Strutting about incoherent
The puddle of mud and rain
I had not seen thou
nevermore I would walk unsighted
Of hazards as dangerous
As the suns rays
Back towards the shop I was
Those shoes of mine are dirty now


Anita Shitmypants