the shoes

fridays i love the nonslip footstuff,
pure hubbub, bulk-bought then trucked 

from pigeon-stacked catalogues, whose 
dorsals do make gravel tones sluice 

down the miniature foyer of my maury 
street childhood home. each distinct starry 

carload of cousins, my brother’s ostinato,
three post-ambling, scramble from toyota,

crash through the door in running monologue. 
now, chao’s village kith doff off their dogs: 

kin's greaves blackblasted,      gummed-out discounted
clompers, cloved by sole meuniere,     now frowned

upon her loafers pinched as elephant        leather. nearish 
midnight, the mystery     whiff of cheap liquorice 

& steeped beef in nut grease.    cabbage, that babylon  
of napa abluted underfoot    black seasoning, black season

when my uncle, his visa      goes undone, un-childrens
him weeping in sheer sheets     my bodybuilder brother ivan    

(russian name reclaimed     from c-drama series)
wears no jordans, has cornrows     desires destiny

as mutable. he’s cute   the one that girls want
& it’s reciprocal, illicit     beyond touch. my aunt    

cries salt, the salted earth     sheds dust, the dusted moon.
human hooves     journey in warm circular rooms.

dishwasher surge     creases his preteen face, steamed,
my other brother (happiness)     never learns to read. 

half supported, tad orphaned     we sprung our tough roughage.
i bore bark and bunion       fruited my inscrutable rage.

those lang syne light-ups       bygone & violet aglet  
twist in absentia.          zodiac, sadness saddles the small kid’s

soul.     animal smells cradle these days reversed.
the late patter of heaven      labors on plain earth.

Copyright © 2021 by Wo Chan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 5, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.