Tuesday, July 26, 2011

OpenLinkNight: On the line


shoes on the power line, mean
come inside, we make you feel fine

nursery rhymes, taught children
for when mama needs a fix
to bear her living, cruxiform worn
torn at the toe, too many
occupational nights subsist-dizing
the EBT, or when they ready
to ride the hot vein away from pain

eh, or maybe just kids at play,
keep away or some other game
and threw too high

truth's story depends on which reality
you choose to believe, and which you
choose to deny

either way, there they hang
swaying slightly in the breeze
as you row down the street, windows
up, door lock thunk providing bass
beats to the song on the radio

cause you know, deny all you want
but reality will find you, before three times
the cock crows.

the cock crows.


Note: Drug dealers will sometimes hang shoes on the line to signify that drugs are available in the marked home. EBT is electronic benefits transfer, the new generation food stamps.

OpenLinkNight @ d'Verse Poets Pub - write something poetic and come grab a seat, be entertained, take the stage. We breathe poetry. 3 pm EST Tuesday through midnite Wednesday. This weeks host is the talented Natasha Hood. You won't want to miss it.

125 comments:

Arian Tejano said...

"truth's story depends on which reality
you choose to believe, and which you
choose to deny"

ahh yes! and sometimes to deny is half-believing.

Magpie said...

Such a flow to this one. I didn't know the shoes signified drugs, but my husband did. You wove sad facts into a wonderful piece.

Valerie said...

I didn't know shoes on the line meant anything other than they were lost or chucked. But if there are superstitions attached then it's like Arian said: you have to believe to deny.

Daniel said...

I always saw this near frat houses in college. I just thought it was tradition or something. Anyway, a nice funky piece that I much enjoyed.

Fred said...

truth's story depends on which reality
you choose to believe, and which you
choose to deny- perfectly stated Brian

I thought this was just a NY thing, guess not. Really nice piece, with multiple destinations possible, the ending is great.

David Allen Waters said...

Ive seen shoes hanging from lines for yrs in a certain part of town, I had no clue what it meant....interesting :)

brilliant write

Daydreamertoo said...

I often see shoes on the line, thought it was just kids playing pranks.
Once again, a down to earth view of life and it's quirks.

kaykuala said...

The drug trade permeates all of society. Thankful we're out of it. Very good reminder to us that it's still a threat. Great verse!

hedgewitch said...

Gritty and full of the hard truth of life on the underside of suburban American "normal" my favorite parts here are the second and last stanzas.

Natasha said...

I'm afraid the old pair of sneakers that have been hangin' out side the sunporch window of my house for the past ten years, doesn't have half the back story. But perhaps they do, and it's one I've chosen to look away from, the truth depends on the perception after all ;) If I can't see you then you can't see me, right? You know I could easily turn this to my soap box and start one of my rants...but it seams I've got you Hood-winked! Thanks for the shout-out, and a HUGE thank you for the help!Counting down to OpenLinkNight!

Heather said...

i guess we learn something new everyday...did not know that...but, yea, i guess it makes sense...cool beat- have a good tuesday! :)

Pat said...

I heard that about the shoes....but in the "old" days when I was a kid, I think it was more about kids throwing their shoes up high and not GETTING high or am I just dreaming?

Bonnie said...

...you are such a good teacher Brian...

ds said...

Grim reality in our own backyards, whether we see it or not. Your fourth stanza is one of the truest I have ever read--and I agree with Arian about half-belief...

Did not know the significance of shoes on the wire; it reminded me actually of the movie "Big Fish" in which the footwear is something else entirely. A movie I highly recommend if you haven't already seen it.

Thank you for another beautiful, gritty thought-provoking poem.

Nancy said...

You have a wonderful way of keeping us entertained, educated, and in touch with the street.

Heaven said...

love these lines too~

"truth's story depends on which reality
you choose to believe, and which you choose to deny"

Funny enough, I have seen them one time but didn't think it had any meaning.


See you later~

Mama Zen said...

Powerful stuff, Brian.

Helena White said...

So it is true, you do learn something everyday...
Thanks for the lesson Brian
I must agree with David
...Brilliant write

♥ ஆ ~.^

Pat Hatt said...

Great play on the different realities one can see
As we are all free
To choose what we want to believe it means
By looking at the scenes
Never knew about the drug dealer thing though
Guess today I got some face it facts at your show

liv2write2day said...

This is so powerful, Brian...how you wove in the cock crows. The stanza "truth depends..." is a knock out. I didn't know what shoes signified either but see them from time-to-time not far from a local middle school. That saddens me.

ethelmaepotter! said...

"truth's story depends on which reality you choose to believe, and which you choose to deny" - my new favorite quote!

Like everyone else, I got an education on this one. EBT - I had no idea. And the shoes on the line - I suppose it IS drug related, but I'd always heard here (Nashville) it meant you were stepping into some gang's territory. Whichever...I think I'll just stay the other side of the shoes.

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

I just recently knew of this shoe on the line signal...your words:
"truth's story depends on which reality
you choose to believe, and which you
choose to deny"
could be applied to SO MANY, MANY situations...

Captain Dumbass said...

I've heard of the shoes, but thanks for the head's up on the EBT, makes more sense now.

Mrsupole said...

Maybe they have different meanings in different places, but we had been told that it meant a gang member had been killed by a rival gang member and the shoes are put up as a warning that if you walk into their area then you will be too.

Makes one wonder, but because we have so many antidrug units, that shoes hanging would make their job too easy. Such a sad thing no matter which reason.

God bless.

Sue said...

Thanks for the shoe information. I've always wondered about that, and now the whole thing makes a lot more sense.

Nicely done, Brian.

=)

Tara Miller said...

I never knew there was a link to shoes on a line and drug deals - very interesting. I'll never look at shoes on a wire the same again! Whether rich or poor and no matter your social status sometimes realities are hard to face - especially if one doesn't know where to seek help and support to face reality and make change. A daunting leap of faith but well worth it!

lori said...

The first time I ever saw shoes hanging on the power lines, I was in Honduras. I was 15 and very naive. When I found out what it meant, I kept thinking, "Are you sure that's what that means?" I didn't want it to be true, but it was. It does no good to pretend it away. Sobering write.

Myrna R. said...

I could see this picture, and know it's story. How do you manage to capture these glimpses of reality in words so clear?

Treasure your gift Brian. It is so unique and special. So glad I get to witness it.

Alan Burnett said...

It is odd to reflect that many a famous nursery rhyme has even more gruesome foundations that your dark take on the genre.

Mark Kerstetter said...

It never ceases to surprise me how often people close their windows to shit going down right outside.

Interesting how you ended with the reference to Peter - a heartbreaking part of the Gospel.

annell said...

Now I know more...

Anthony Desmond said...

I know all about the shoes on the line and ebt... nice work man

Beachanny said...

The ultimate denial or escape. Luna's shoes in Harry Potter, hung high on the vaulted halls of Hogwarts. She looked up and said she needed them now. Ghetto kids have no magic wand to lift their wannabe air Jordans back to their feet. Drugs, escape, disease, denial, poison fire in veins. No answers - shoes in the air. Really great, Brian, as always.

chromapoesy.com said...

nursery rhymes, taught children
for when mama needs a fix
to bear her living, cruxiform worn
torn at the toe

Brilliant.

Fireblossom said...

Here in Detroit we never see shoes hung like that.

*cough sputter*

Finally said...

I really like the rhythm and flow to this poem. Such a great compliment to the picture.

WINDOWLAD said...

"deny all you want but reality will find you"..cleverly said Brian... i am with you with that shout!

Brightest blessings!

~Kelvin S. M.

ayala said...

True and powerful. "deny all you want
and reality will find you..." most people believe it's easier looking away...great write.

poemblaze said...

Thanks for the poetry and new information. Now I know why there were shoes on the power lines by my apartment building about 6 years ago. Much better neighborhood now.

Joanne Elliott said...

I can hear it as I read it. Good one!

Was this your shoe poem from Saturday? I didn't get a chance to participate, but I did write one later. Not ready to post it.

I was going to write something about shoes on power lines too, but I went another route.

Steve E said...

In Naples (parts of!) I see feminine under-attire hanging on those power lines. Maybe they are selling drugs also? I don't (ahem!) claim to know....

signed...bkm said...

There are many sad facts when it comes to drugs and the children that are victims of it....alcohol no less an evil when abused.....strong writing Brian...bkm

Louise said...

Gosh, I didn't know that...a sad tale of our times..depending on which reality we'd like to believe. Lovely flow to your poem. :)

happygirl said...

truth's story depends on which reality
you choose to believe, and which you
choose to deny

Truth is real whether believed or denied. Strong piece and I learned two things I didn't know. I was so glad to see them at the end so I didn't have to google. :)

Tom Eliot said...

After only reading three of your poems - i already feel like i have a sense of where you live and what you see; exposed via your noggin filter - I may be stating the obvious here but i think that ability to communicate your 'view of things' is admirable.

Some great lines too.
'ride the hot vein away from pain'
Nice.

LauraX said...

beautiful Brian...I'm bit out of the loop, been sick, didn't realize OSW was ending today...what an amazing group of poets!

Vicki Lane said...

I didn't know that. I'm always intrigued by the sight of an abandoned shoe and wonder what its story is.

Baino said...

I often wondered if that shoe thing was true or an Urban Myth. Surely if i was true, drug squads all over the world would have more success.

Lady Nyo said...

Brian, having trouble with Google so I'll try again.

Strong, reality write. We have these shoes/signage in our neighborhood. For years I didn't know what they meant.

Drugs/alcohol are the bane of the urban areas....

Lady Nyo

Andrew Kreider said...

Yep - you caught the feel of our neighborhood really well. Lots of contradictions, questions, and too many shoes up in the air around here. Thanks for taking this into poetry.

zongrik said...

Oh, so that's what shoes on the wire mean!! Cool.

I loved how you established a world with rules by stating this upfront.

Uneven Stephen said...

Interesting read, as usual Brian. I've always wondered what the hell shoes are up on a telephone line for - now I know! Some powerful imagery and flow here.

KLo said...

I love the dichotomy between a child's summertime shoes and a drug deal ... which isn't really a dichotomy at all.

Sad world :(

Unknown Mami said...

I never enjoy the sight of shoes hanging on a power line. They never seem to be a source of joy or a sign of a thriving community.

mairmusic said...

Reality will and does-- nice write Brian, as always.

Andy said...

I've always wondered what the significance of the hanging shoes was...now I know.
EBT...Oh yes, I know it well from work!

Brian, you certainly open our eyes to the ever-declining sign of the times.

Nice one!

Timoteo said...

I'd think the feminine undergarments hanging on the line might mean they are selling something other than drugs :)

Christi Moon said...

Your modern and edgy lines work wonderfully to highlight one of societies harsh realities. Loved this Brian!

percyfreemanjr.com said...

The Truth is the truth even if we dont except it. What ever the meaning of the shoes hanging from the wire truth is that atleast one pair is hanging somewhere for the meaning you stated in this poem and that one pair is one to many.

ed pilolla said...

which reality we choose to believe and which we deny. that sort of thing does tend to happen. that's such a strong line.

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

"truth's story depends on which reality you choose to believe, and which you choose to deny..."

Wow! Hi! Brian,
Your poem [Your words]is/are very truthful, powerful, and yet, a very sad commentary about the plight Of some people living in this world we all inhibit in order to "thrive" [Using and selling drugs]in an unreality and survive.
[Selling their EBT in order to "feed" their habit...]

[Unfortunately, I wasn't familiar with the term EBT]

Thanks, for sharing!
deedee :-(

Barbara Shallue said...

I never realized that's what those shoes meant. wow.

colleen said...

I like the nursery rhyme rhythm with an edge. I remember the first time I saw shoes hanging like that. It was like the first time I saw a cap worn backwards and pants so low the underwear show.

mrs mediocrity said...

you are so good. i never knew that about the shoes, sometimes truth's story depends on which reality you live in... i am from a small, rural town, my reality is perhaps different. but your line really struck me, "truth's story depends on which reality you choose to believe, and which you choose to deny."
truth there, either way you go.

Sheila Moore said...

another biblical inference? "the cock crows"... (darn it, does that make it three times? I don't want reality to find me - but I am thankful not to be hiding from it behind a drugged veil.) You have shoes on the brain this week, eh?

tracy said...

First, I love the photo. And thank you for explaining the shoe thingy. Once again I learned something from you. 'Cept I already knew you were brilliant.

G.E. Wright said...

Very well written and very clever!

Teri said...

There are those shoes again!!! It seems like I would rather choose the less dangerous definition. You always inform me with your poetry. Love that!

haikulovesongs said...

i'm so naive that i've always hated seeing shoes on the line because i thought that a bully had taken them off someone and thrown them up there.

as often happens with your poetry, i find myself on the verge of tears ~ which is a good thing as far as your writing goes. your words reach in and yank my heart out.

no one writes the way you do, brian. brilliant!

Pastor Sharon said...

But, whose shoes are they? Do they belong to the dealer? Or, a thug? Or maybe a victim who meandered into the hood, lost and out of touch with directions?

Christine said...

I live a sheltered life, interesting poem, thanks for the post script info.

Joseph Hesch said...

I've been seeing kicks in the wires since I was a kid, Brian. Their meaning has changed a few times since then, but they've always been code in the neighborhood. In this piece, you've cracked it for the contemporary "non-urban" readers, with a bumping beat and a lesson from the street. This one I got right to my withered old street balling core. Great piece!

Life in a Poem said...

its true we only believe what we want to

Patricia said...

too many occupational nights subsist-dizing the EBT, or when they ready
to ride the hot vein away from pain

wow Brian... brutally accurate.
We lived in Bloomington, IN for a few years... those shoes were everywhere. Explains a few things...

Lolamouse said...

Raw, gritty, and intelligent. You manage to write about street life without glorifying or pandering. Great job as always.

KB said...

I heard the story about shoes hanging on the line but thought it was just a myth. Interesting.

jen revved said...

Intense, meaningful, interesting poem, B-- thanks for welcome-- i was coerced-- smile. xxxj

Betsy said...

I told a blogger the other week what this meant when she posted a pic of shoes on a wire that was near her work. She couldn't believe it...Yep...that's what it means! I told her not to linger there in her car during her lunch hour with a big wad of cash in her hand. lol...

Margie said...

I never knew that about the shoes and drugs.
Great write, as always, Brian.
I'm always amazed when I come here!
Your writing is amazing!

Margie :)

christopher said...

Glad to have found your page.

First-rate poetry...creating a clear picture.

Glynn said...

The increasing pace of the poem, it spins toward the conclusion, if there is one. Well done, Brian.

Slamdunk said...

Well done Brian.

Shoes on our lines commonly refer to frat boys at play with alcohol.

TALON said...

You know I'll be checking the hydro lines all over the place now (Thankfully, none in the immediate vicinity - so far! lol).

Missed reading your writing, Brian.

Stranger said...

Yeah, the shoes on the line is a common sign here, only they're usually not directly in front of the house but a few houses down so as to not be too obvious for those looking to bust versus score. Someone looking to score usually knows which door to knock.
Great poem, Brian.
Great message.

marousia said...

Vivid imagery - loved the flow

lynne said...

And as a sidenote, shoes are the "apex" of a druggies wardrobe.. status symbol of "I'm boss"

well done.. I always enjoy your poems because they hinge on spoken word, and I leave with a mini-story in my head..

great read..

beckykilsby said...

Hi Brian.. just love how you've used a concrete image to reflect on ways of seeing...the view from there..the view from here..are your eyes open..squinting..? Never seen shoes hung like this..I'm in the UK.. will open my eyes..

SueAnn said...

Yes! The cock does crow and at the most awkward of times!!
Ha!
Hugs
SueAnn

JStar said...

You portrayed this "way of life" so true to nature...I was hip the second I saw the pic...I grew up in this reality...On my block...

the walking man said...

I would change the last line to "reality will find you, before three times the Glock blows." They like their Glocks these days. Personally i like to get in a little closer.

And I am sick and tired of these so called adults locking their kids out of the house until 2 AM when they get home just slightly less high to remember they have kids they left outside so they wouldn't eat all that EBT food that was bought after they sold the card for twenty five cents on the dollar to afford the crack.

Sheera said...

From the opening line to the last, I felt this poem. Very deep poem! I like how you interwove the impact of drugs on the children & the parents. I know in different parts of the country the shoes on the electric lines mean different things; back home (Ohio) it means a drug house is near & where I live now (Cali) it means something related to gangs (but in all honesty, that just means that drugs are near too).

Pauline said...

You can see anything through a poet's eye.

Goofball said...

ooh shoes on a line turns out to be universal. who would have known.


my truth that I chose to believe up to know...drunk students challenging each other


a sign from drugdealers? really? but what if they are out of stock, then they must take their shoes down again...not very practical huh?

sheila said...

I knew about the shoes on the line thing, but always thought it was stupid. I mean, what a waste of shoes. LOVE your truth / reality line. That's so true. In my reality. ;o)

TechnoBabe said...

Exactly! Which reality we choose to believe.

sm said...

nice post
educating one

wolfsrosebud said...

Who says you can't learn something from poetry. Entertaining with a twist of reality. Thanks teach!

blackswanpoetry said...

what we choose to beleive fits so much of life. nice work on this

Help! Mama Remote... said...

You're talking a lot about shoes lately ;) this is a typical.scene where I'm from. I always wondered who shoes were they and how long it took them to get them up there.

ModernMom said...

In these parts it sadly means Drugs for sale...

miskmask said...

Spectacularly vivid with a sidewinders rhythm. Love it.

scribbla said...

"shoes on the power line, mean
come inside, we make you feel fine"
This is such a powerful opening. It places me right there, in the middle of it all. Super work.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Would you believe that in a small town in Africa, far far away, this sign is also to be seen with the same invitation attached?

Great poem to create social awareness, Brian.

Ann Grenier said...

For some reason I thought of that old song "Knock three times on the ceiling if you wanna meet, twice on the pipe if the answer is no...", when I read your opening. Great poem, didn't know about the shoes either. Loved too:
"truth's story depends on which reality you choose to believe,". Some room for discussion about whether we all get to "choose" though.

James Rainsford said...

As usual, perceptive and thought provoking.

Karen from Mentor said...

loved the sound of this piece.

-----

And whenever I see someone doing this:
"door lock thunk providing bass
beats to the song on the radio"

My mom instinct kicks in and I want to tell them to stop before they wear it out.

Thanks for sharing.
:0)

bodhirose said...

I had not heard that about shoes over a power line signifying a drug house. You'd think the cops would know this...

Powerful story here of life on some streets. There sure is a lot of pain out there in the world.

truly said...

This brings to mind the Rolling Stones song "Mother's Little Helper".
I also didn't know about the meaning behind shoes on the power lines.

C Rose said...

A great perspective of the reality of many neighborhoods and lives right now. I really enjoyed this piece Brian! ~ Rose

Nara Malone said...

This reminds me of where I lived when I put myself through college. Your poem has a gritty beat that really carries the sense of place. Nice work.

Joanne said...

I had no idea, here behind my sheltered suburban brick that protects me from nothing. Wondering how much is true and how much myth, but it sure makes a great contrast story in your inimitable gritty story-telling style, Brian. Love the contrast between innocence and evil; it's all in the "back story."

Titanium said...

In the rural areas where I grew up, shoes (or workboots) were slung over the line to mark the spot where someone had died- usually in a car accident.

I guess, in a way, the tradition evolved to include the living dead.

Tina said...

Powerful. Thanks for the notes at the end. I was almost there, but that last little nudge helped me see all the carefully woven hints you made.
Tina @ Life is Good

yellowhousecafe said...

"to ride the hot vein away from pain" ~ dig that line, as well as "row down the street".

Get your junk here, huh? I'd forgot that about shoes on lines...I've got some checkn to do, just to see if neighborhoods still abide ~

secret agent woman said...

Now I'm thinking about all the kids who innocently throw shoes up on the line.

Jo Bryant said...

I never knew that shoes could mean that - the gesture in itself is kind of poetic. I really enjoyed this. :)

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

Good poem and interesting info. Thanks.

Lorraine said...

wow love what you wrote, didn't know about the significance, I see shoes on strings, now I know

william said...

one would never have believed shoes could have meant so much.. another fantastic write.

sharplittlepencil said...

Brian, this is so in sync with how I feel. In Buffalo, sometimes the shoes are left by bullies who grab them off a youth and string 'em up to make the kid walk home in his socks, humiliated... but usually, it's like you said, spot on.

More drug treatment centers! Great poem, Brian, a punch to the gut of the collective conscience. Amy
Ironically, I do favor legalizing and regulating hemp/pot only.
http://sharplittlepencil.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/grass/

Carys said...

Gosh Brian, your pic really threw me as it immediately made me think of the movie Big Fish, although the town where the shoes are thrown up onto the line is called Spectre so maybe not that far removed.

to ride the hot vein away from pain - fantastic line in a very powerful piece

ziibi said...

You tells truths Brian. I think I've said this before but the truthd people ignore or don't care and you put it right out there where they are told before they even know. I love that you do that. :)

Syd said...

Never knew that the shoes signified drugs for sale. Thought it was a kid's prank.

Olivia said...

Another masterpiece Brian! I found this whimsical..

The fact stated about truth- yess!!

hugs xox

RMP said...

your note completely opened up this poem for me... had to go back and read it with this new light... and well, wow.