Shoeshine - Recalling the Lessons of My Father - In Memoriam
Stay out of the business. Shine
for quarters on corners, in barbershops.
Shine wherever you can. Just stay away
from the business, your father said.
Gave you a box to shine clean
Just the right schmear of Kiwi -
brown, oxblood, or black - let
it dry, Let it dry. A bit of banter,
a shuffle through the box for that
buff-worn camel hair beauty
of a brush is enough to keep
the impatient bastard relaxed.
Buff it hard. Let him feel your sweat.
The camel hair is yielding enough,
don't hit the foot with the grip.
Give it a beat, a rhythm, yours not mine.
Wrap the chamois round the heel.
Be quick and pendulous.
You always led right, I'll lead with my left.
The rest I do as you. Chamois down
and away from the heel. Roll over toe,
polish up the laces. Finish with a crack,
a whip on a shoe made new
and take the quarter with
a thanks, a wink and a nod.