A 1 logo   A poem a day into the millennium
7 October 1999
 

I AM THE BODHISATTVA WHO SAVES 
THE PEOPLE ON THIS BUS 
FROM THE SMELL OF MY FEET


My shoes are rotten on the inside from the rain. 
The dark shined grooves the toes made 
and the divot curved into the once-thick foam heal 
and the possum body 
left dad on the summermoon street 
when I pull my feet from my shoes. 

Two days on the bus San Francisco to Des Moines 
listening to my feet crackle and burn, 
whispering temptation into my busdrone ears, 
praying and screaming "air," cajoling "air," 
while I stare out the window through Nebraska's rain, 
coming on for hundreds of miles - darker and darker - 
strips of grey from heaven to wheatearth 
(and the gasps of the passengers from back east 
when the balls of hail begin clattering the bus sides, 
covering the highway in crushed white marble.) 

My feet burn to be free 
listening to the hail jump ecstatic off the road. 
Free from the rot leather and rubber gone bad 
in the Oregon rain. 

I may be discovered here on the bus 
by the woman who dangled her bare feet in the aisle 
reading Danielle Steel 
when the just of cragrock behind her 
turned away from the sun 
as we rounded a bend in the road above Salt Lake. 
How can she do that? Is she my demon? 
And the vultures with their turkey red faces 
fly dangerously close to the bus 
tempted down by the invisible strings that bind them 
to the rot of the earth. 
I can see an invisible string from their beaks to my feet! 

If I take them off I'll be discovered. 
The last man who owns only one pair of shoes. 
Sneaking along the streets in the rain with only one pair, 
sneaking onto this bus with sacrilegious odor. 
BUT I AM GUILTY OF NOTHING! 
Beneath these shoes my feet are the same as anyone's! 

I declare all feet on this bus must be free! 
FREE THE FEET! FREE MY FEET! 

In Ogallala the passengers pile out at a rest stop. 
One by one, weary, hairtousled, mugmouthed, 
getting out to wash and purify themselves 
and I think, "This is it, time for the revolution to begin!" 
Let the air on this bus circulate the truth! 
Let it circulate the smell of no job! 
Let it circulate the funk of the one-pair-of-shoes-man! 

 But I can't do it. 
I must realize my higher calling. 
I must turn my back on utopia. 
I must turn back from enlightenment. 
I must return forever on this bus 
for I am the bodhisattva who saves the people on this bus 
from the smell of my feet 
vowing not to take off my shoes 
until all other feet have attained 
                                                       the truth. 

- Christien Gholson


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