At a Shoe

(Well, my Capstone Project is officially over. But here is one last poem for you.)

There in the corner,

The last of her I cannot throw away.

See, she wore them four days a week

To her job as a waitress,

And the use showed.

Where the soles were together,

They’ve peeled apart,

The blue accents faded to white,

And white gave way to dirty gray.

If you look inside,

The back is breaking

Where, one too many times late,

She shoved in her foot,

Heel pressing, pushing, wearing,

Until the structure broke free of the binding.


Next to them sit black, strappy heels,

For Prom.

They still have the sheen

Of brand new plastic,

Never sullied by oil or sweat or lotion.

The tag still hangs on the left one,

Ugly and drab against the shine.

They were too barely-there for her sister

To break in at last week’s October Homecoming,

They never got to be dancing shoes,

Never knew the relief

Of being yanked off at night.


New Land-Avatar

Let’s jump right into this new Avatar song, “New Land”.

It begins in a usual hard rock manner, with lead singer ____ singing in a distinctly rock-like manner.

A new world, awaitsA new world, awaits
I’m flying without an escape plan
Break through the gate
Take up, take me on
Break through the sky
I will [save] you!

I woke up too late
Danger ahead and behind us
They come and create
Here comes the dawn
Crossing the canyon!

(So I think AZ Lyrics is incorrect on this one) The speaker is clearly on a journey to the titular New Land. However, this journey is a dangerous one. He mentions danger in the second stanza, sure, but the language like “without an escape plan,” “break through,” and “too late” support it before danger is even mentioned.

The song slows down and softens at the following chorus:

Fly beyond the oceans
Trying to find our place
Home is somewhere out there
Somewhere you’ll be safe
Sleep my child and dream of the new land!

That the music gets gentler here is kind of symbolic. Whether the speaker is talking to an actual child or using it euphemistically, it fits that his tone would soften as he addresses the “child.” The subject matter is even gentler, without reference to the dangers of the previous pieces; he talks of “our place,” “home,” and “safe.

It switches back to hard rock for one more chorus:

You won’t be alone
Remember, you’ve all got each other
Crack through the stone
There’s silver inside
We’ll all be alright

Even though the beat and tone has hardened again, the subject matter has not. Out of musical context, this is kind of sweet, almost comforting to the person the speaker is talking to. He’s reminding the child that he or she is not alone.

The song slows down again in the chorus, which repeats, and then goes into a Bridge, with some of the other band members vocalizing in the background.

Newborn, promise
Soon will be departed
Sleep until we reach the new land

This gives the distinct impression that while the first two verses were about the real trials the speaker was going through, with the chorus and rest of the song it is meant to comfort the child the speaker is addressing.

Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie is a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian from Washington State. He’s got a long list of accomplishments, including the film Smoke Signals (1998), books like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and The Lone Ranger and Tanto Fistfight in Heaven, and poetry, like today’s
All of the Indians must have tragic features: tragic noses, eyes, and arms.
Their hands and fingers must be tragic when they reach for tragic food.
The hero must be a half-breed, half white and half Indian, preferably
from a horse culture. He should often weep alone. That is mandatory.
If the hero is an Indian woman, she is beautiful. She must be slender
and in love with a white man. But if she loves an Indian man
then he must be a half-breed, preferably from a horse culture.
If the Indian woman loves a white man, then he has to be so white
that we can see the blue veins running through his skin like rivers.
When the Indian woman steps out of her dress, the white man gasps
at the endless beauty of her brown skin. She should be compared to nature:
brown hills, mountains, fertile valleys, dewy grass, wind, and clear water.
If she is compared to murky water, however, then she must have a secret.
Indians always have secrets, which are carefully and slowly revealed.
Yet Indian secrets can be disclosed suddenly, like a storm.
Indian men, of course, are storms. They should destroy the lives
of any white women who choose to love them. All white women love
Indian men. That is always the case. White women feign disgust
at the savage in blue jeans and T-shirt, but secretly lust after him.
White women dream about half-breed Indian men from horse cultures.
Indian men are horses, smelling wild and gamey. When the Indian man
unbuttons his pants, the white woman should think of topsoil.
There must be one murder, one suicide, one attempted rape.
Alcohol should be consumed. Cars must be driven at high speeds.
Indians must see visions. White people can have the same visions
if they are in love with Indians. If a white person loves an Indian
then the white person is Indian by proximity. White people must carry
an Indian deep inside themselves. Those interior Indians are half-breed
and obviously from horse cultures. If the interior Indian is male
then he must be a warrior, especially if he is inside a white man.
If the interior Indian is female, then she must be a healer, especially if she is inside
a white woman. Sometimes there are complications.
An Indian man can be hidden inside a white woman. An Indian woman
can be hidden inside a white man. In these rare instances,
everybody is a half-breed struggling to learn more about his or her horse culture.
There must be redemption, of course, and sins must be forgiven.
For this, we need children. A white child and an Indian child, gender
not important, should express deep affection in a childlike way.
In the Great American Indian novel, when it is finally written,
all of the white people will be Indians and all of the Indians will be ghosts.
There isn’t much to say about this poem, really, but it’s important nonetheless. If you watch American films, you know how they tend to treat Native Americans- usually exoticised and mysticised. Movies lump them all together, too, like one big, homogeneous group rather than various cultures- like with the “horse culture” reference.
Phrases like “Indians must see visions,” “tragic features,” and “Indians always have secrets” speak to the way American media pushes the same handful of stereotypes onto every character.

My Old Man- Zac Brown Band

It’s April, the weather is beautiful (here, at least), and the radio is playing the same five songs as last month. So let’s talk country.

I used to be pretty into country music, because it’s all my mother listens to, and I’ll still listen to songs that came out in the early 2010s… which is about the time it started becoming pop music with a southern twang.

Zac Brown Band pretty much summarizes “pop with a twang,” but “My Old Man” is a touching, gentle ode to the speaker’s deceased father.

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