Put yourself in my shoes



When I was a teenager,
at a lecture on Sartre,
someone clever said:
‘You can’t put yourself
in someone else’s shoes,
because there’s already
someone wearing them.’
And I believed him.


Fifteen years later
at a reception centre
for asylum seekers,
I remember the clever man
when I meet another man.
This man is not wearing shoes.
This man is sharing his shoes
with someone else.


When the one wants to go out,
he has the shoes;
when the other has to go out,
then he wants the shoes.
When one is shod, the other is not.
When one is out, the other is not.


The mathematics of poverty, I see,
mirrors the rigour of existentialist philosophy.
The clever man, perhaps, was right.
But let the cobbler do his job
and re-form the worn-out metaphor
with hammer and awl:


re-fashion it into the finest footwear
that shines as though on fire,
and hand it, with a knowing smile,
to the barefoot refugee,
whose experience shows
that you can put someone else in your own shoes.


Copyright © 2014. Terry J. Bradford
Todos los derechos reservados. All rights reserved

Dolce et Gabbana Est



Exhausted, bearing shopping bags and sacks,
But elated, pouting like ducks, we dodge the sludge,
And on the poor, the plebs we turn our backs
As to our modest homes, in fact, we trudge.
There we will sleep. And dream of our new boots,
Clothes, electronic goods – all brand names; blind
To having been conned; ignoring the hoots
Of derision from sales people behind.


Home. For ready meals, TV, and fumbling
With our partner. There’s just not enough time
In the day for work, rest, and play. Stumbling
Through debt – “I should’ve got that hat in lime…
Or puce?” – we are distracted by the light.
We grin with the weight. But we are drowning.


In a snowstorm of adverts we’ve lost sight
Of what’s real. ’Cos we’re worth it? We’re drowning.


We’re struggling just to keep up with the pace
Of this life, inflation, the mess we’re in;
If we’re honest, we don’t want to lose face,
Having lost our soul, our belief in sin.
Are we worth it? On our hands is the blood
Of foreign workers: they give up their lungs,
Their hopes, their lives. Whilst we dare chew the cud,
In a café with friends, cake on our tongues,
Swapping trivia with the zeal and zest
Of the desperate. We grab, in hollow glory,
The new lie: Dolce et Gabbana est
Pro patria Tory.


Copyright © 2014. Terry J. Bradford






While others are gawping, upwards,
like lobotomized meer-kats,
and oohing, and aahing
at colourful chemical reactions
in the sky, I go down to my kitchen
to put bangers under the grill.


Sitting on the cold stone floor,
I warm myself as I watch
flesh-pink sausages,
sun-bathers, repellently obese,
sweat grease and brown and burn
until they explode,
whistling, pissing fat.


No artifice from their orifice,
but spitting flashes of life:
incandescent shooting stars,
evanescent stirring shots
of celebration, cheaper
than fireworks, and edible.


Copyright © 2014. Terry J. Bradford