Posts Tagged ‘odes’

Pink Shoe, pen and ink and marker paint on graph paper,
doodle © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.


It’s not the first pink shoe I’ve loved.

The first would be a pair I bought for $3 at a garage sale. Nineteen-forties, pointy toe, with a bow. Still in the original shoe box.

“Love” is too strong of a word. That’s what I’ve been ruminating on now for days. It’s embarrassing to admit to love a thing when people are sick, the war rages, buying power drops, gas prices rise, the Pope blesses, spring blows in.

Isn’t this what’s wrong with the world? We love our things too much.

Last night my daughter was searching in her chest of drawers for a shirt and pair of pants to wear to Spirit Day today at school. She was to dress all in white. I half anticipated that she’d come to me in a panic — I don’t have white pants!! — insisting we run to Target to get some.

I rehearsed in my head the talk I’d deliver. You want to spend money on a pair of white pants that you can wear one day while people are dying, families don’t have enough food…and on and on. 

She appeared a few minutes later with a white tee and a pair of brown pants from last summer. Turns out she has more depth than I gave her credit for. I’m the one wedded to my things.

I bought this pair of shoes two years ago in a San Francisco boutique, the kind of store where it’s not unusual for the salespeople to talk to eachother, as if you’re not there, during the entire course of a fitting. The shoes were regularly $200, on sale half-off. They were tight, but I knew the leather would stretch eventually.

I don’t buy shoes lightly. The last pair I bought is a European brand, normally expensive, that I found at TJ Maxx for less than $30. That was an exception. My spine doesn’t love poorly-shod feet.

Shoes aren’t the only objects I admire. I love lamps. I own more tables than anyone I know — I just gave away two. Furniture is like art to me. I have an enamel chair that sits unused against a wall. It reminds me of easel and painting rolled into one.

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, with his “Ode to things,” gave me permission to embrace my own love of things. As I read of “shapely shoes” and “the softness of a woman’s hip,” I knew my appreciation for things was different from greed or desire. It is love for beauty.

Inspired by Neruda, I wrote my own ode.

ode to a pink shoe

graceful as a ballerina
big toe caress
supple cowhide
made in italy
narrow long
aristocratic limbs

it holds me
moves me
carries me
across asphalt ocean
and gravel dreams
stained by travel
to carnival skies

a flamenco
cotton candy chamois
toe nail polish
fine foot fetish
fine latin lover
cha-cha-cha possibility

swim with me
in lucid night
say it slow
know not
what i mean
walk slowly now

dream soft scent
and roses
long stride
stretch limosine
mary kay superstar
pink shoe cadillac

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Oda a las cosas
by Pablo Neruda

Amo las cosas loca,
Me gustan las tenazas,
las tijeras,
adoro las tazas,
las argollas,
las soperas,
sin hablar, por supuesto,
del sombrero.
Amo todas las cosas,
no sólo
las supremas,
el dedal,
las espuelas,
los platos,
los floreros.

Ay, alma mía,
es el planeta,
de pipas
por la mano
en el humo,
de llaves,
de saleros,
en fin,
lo que se hizo
por la mano del hombre, toda cosa:
las curvas del zapato,
el tejido,
el nuevo nacimiento
del oro
sin la sangre,
los anteojos,
los clavos,
las escobas,
los relojes, las brújulas,
las monedas, la suave
suavidad de las sillas.

Ay cuántas
ha construido
el hombre:
de lana,
de madera,
de cristal,
de cordeles,
navíos, escaleras.

todas las cosas,
no porque sean
o fragantes,
sino porque
no sé,
este océano es el tuyo,
es el mío:
los botones,
las ruedas,
los pequeños
los abanicos en
cuyos plumajes
desvaneció el amor
sus azahares,
las copas, los cuchillos,
las tijeras,
todo tiene
en el mango, en el contorno,
la huella
de unos dedos,
de una remota mano
en lo más olvidado del olvido.

Yo voy por casas,
tocando cosas,
divisando objetos
que en secreto ambiciono:
uno porque repica,
otro porque
es tan suave
como la suavidad de una cadera,
otro por su color de gua profunda.
otro por su espesor de terciopelo.

Oh río
de las cosas,
no se dirá
que sólo
lo que salta, sube, sobrevive, suspira.
No es verdad:
muchas cosas
me lo dijeron todo.
No sólo me tocaron
o las tocó mi mano,
sino que acompañaron
de tal modo
mi existencia
que conmigo existieron
y fueron para mí tan existentes
que vivieron conmigo media vida
y morirán conmigo media muerte.

Ode to things
by Pablo Neruda

I have a crazy,
crazy love of things.
I like pliers,
and scissors.
I love
and bowls —
not to speak, of course,
of hats.
I love all things,
not just the grandest,
also the infinite-
small —
and flower vases.

Oh yes,
the planet
is sublime!
It’s full of
through tobacco smoke,
and keys
and salt shakers —
I mean,
that is made
by the hand of man, every little thing:
shapely shoes,
and fabric,
and each new
bloodless birth
of gold,
carpenter’s nails,
clocks, compasses,
coins, and the so-soft
softness of chairs.

Mankind has
oh so many
Built them of wool
and of wood,
of glass and
of rope:
ships, and stairways.

I love
not because they are
or sweet-smelling
but because,
I don’t know,
this ocean is yours,
and mine:
these buttons
and wheels
and little
fans upon
whose feathers
love has scattered
its blossoms,
glasses, knives and
scissors —
all bear
the trace
of someone’s fingers
on their handle or surface,
the trace of a distant hand
in the depths of forgetfulness.

I pause in houses,
streets and
touching things,
identifying objects
that I secretly covet:
this one because it rings,
that one because
it’s as soft
as the softness of a woman’s hip,
that one there for its deep-sea color,
and that one for its velvet feel.

O irrevocable
of things:
no one can say
that I loved
or the plants of the jungle and the field,
that I loved
those things that leap and climb, desire, and survive.
It’s not true:
many things conspired
to tell me the whole story.
Not only did they touch me,
or my hand touched them:
they were
so close
that they were a part
of my being,
they were so alive with me
that they lived half my life
and will die half my death.


Pablo Neruda wrote three books of odes during his lifetime. “Oda a las cosas” appeared in the book Odas Elementales in 1954. Neruda wrote and published a vast number of poems, which spoke of love, existentialism, and political travesty. His odes — poems of praise to laziness, a tuna, things — celebrated the day-to-day — the simple ordinariness of life itself.


Abstract Charcoal Series and Color Links, details of charcoal on paper and details of link necklace, drawings and photos © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

-Related to posts Got Poetry (National Poem In Your Pocket Day), Getting To Know Pablo Neruda, and Neruda – Solo La Muerte.

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