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Going Out to Buy Shoes

October 13, 2009

by Richard Nester

It was around that time that my wife’s
father decided to run for office, mayor
of heaven, I think it was. He campaigned
from his chair as I wheeled him around
the mall. It was extraordinary. The shoppers
had never seen such friendliness. He made
everyone smile whether they wanted to or not.
Imagine an antic child, who fathoms
what no child can, our covetousness and cruelty,
because it’s his. “Smile,” he shouted
to everyone, waving his bony hands,
as we passed the corner of Butterfly
and Butterfly. “You may not get
another chance.” Later on, he asked me
for a riding crop so he could switch
the uncompliant ones. It takes a certain
meanness, I admit, to wring love from thieves
and liars. Sure, he knows. But it was love,
not pity, in their eyes he said, and that
was good. “If I’d had an education,
I’d be dangerous,” he added, about himself,
work done, chewing a cheese sandwich
with his one tooth.


Richard Nester is a former fellow of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and has published in a number of locations including Ploughshares, Seneca Review, Sycamore Review, and Tikkun.

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  1. October 13, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Boy! This issue is packed with terrific poetry! Will it be available in print? I love the character in this poem. His energy is so well portrayed.

    “It takes a certain/ meanness, I admit, to wring love from thieves/ and liars.” One of my favorite poetic lines ever!

  2. October 13, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    I was about to highlight the same line Jill quoted. Terrific story.

  3. October 22, 2009 at 10:47 am

    impressive work.

  4. Alex Cigale
    January 3, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Thank you, Richard. This was probably my favorite of a pretty strong issue. Alex

  5. January 16, 2010 at 4:04 pm


    I was glad to see you here, and the boisterous Mr. K in his chair as well! I like the way you have bottled his character.

  6. Ruth Hallman
    May 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Richard, you continue to astound me with your ability to say so much with such wonderful metaphors.

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