4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

El Zapato

Not the wooden spoon,

primordial source

of sweetness and pain,

flying across the kitchen —

I barely bothered to duck.

Not my father undoing his belt —

I would be gone before he’d whack

the tabletop in a sample nalgada,

but my mother’s shoe, El Zapato:

its black leather soft as the mouth

of an old, toothless dog, black laces

crisscrossing its long tongue

all the way up, heavy sole and thick

square high heel. Shoe from a special

old lady store, shoe from olden days,

puritanical shoe, bruja shoe, peasant

shoe, Gypsy shoe, shoe for zapateo

on the grave of your enemy, shoe

for dancing the twisted, bent

over dance of los viejitos.

Not the pain, humiliating clunk

of leather striking upside my head,

but her aim, the way I knew that even

if I ran out the kitchen door,

down the back stairs and leapt

the fence, when I glanced over my

shoulder El Zapato, prototype

of the smart bomb, would be there,

its primitive but infallible radar

honed in on my back. Not the shoe

for suicidal anger of come out of hiding

or I’ll throw myself out the window.

Not the shoe for carpet-chewing

Hitler anger — the throwing herself

down, taking an edge of rug

between her teeth anger. But the shoe

for everyday justice she could unlace,

whip off and throw faster than Paladin

draws his gun, shoe that could hunt

me down like the Texas Rangers,

even if it took years, even if she died

while she was throwing her shoe,

even if she managed to throw it

from the ramparts of heaven, the way

she threw it from a third story window

while I stood half a block away, laughing

at her with my friends, thinking,

it could never hit me from this far,

until I stood suddenly alone,

abandoned by my cowardly friends,

alone in the frozen cross-eyed knowledge

that El Zapato, black, smoking with righteousness,

was slowly, inevitably spinning toward my forehead.

Richard Garcia

For several years Richard Garcia was poet-in-residence at the Long Beach Museum of Art and at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where he conducted poetry and art workshops for hospitalized children. He has won many awards for his poetry including a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He currently lives in South Carolina and teaches in the Antioch University MFA program and at the College of Charleston. “El Zapato” is from his collection Rancho Notorious, published by BOA Editions Ltd. © and is reprinted by permission.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Villa Montezuma re-opens one more time

Queen Anne home invites spookiness – including Edgar Allan Poe
Next Article

Nathan Hubbard returns to La Cage aux Folles

“We’re downstairs in the pit”

Not the wooden spoon,

primordial source

of sweetness and pain,

flying across the kitchen —

I barely bothered to duck.

Not my father undoing his belt —

I would be gone before he’d whack

the tabletop in a sample nalgada,

but my mother’s shoe, El Zapato:

its black leather soft as the mouth

of an old, toothless dog, black laces

crisscrossing its long tongue

all the way up, heavy sole and thick

square high heel. Shoe from a special

old lady store, shoe from olden days,

puritanical shoe, bruja shoe, peasant

shoe, Gypsy shoe, shoe for zapateo

on the grave of your enemy, shoe

for dancing the twisted, bent

over dance of los viejitos.

Not the pain, humiliating clunk

of leather striking upside my head,

but her aim, the way I knew that even

if I ran out the kitchen door,

down the back stairs and leapt

the fence, when I glanced over my

shoulder El Zapato, prototype

of the smart bomb, would be there,

its primitive but infallible radar

honed in on my back. Not the shoe

for suicidal anger of come out of hiding

or I’ll throw myself out the window.

Not the shoe for carpet-chewing

Hitler anger — the throwing herself

down, taking an edge of rug

between her teeth anger. But the shoe

for everyday justice she could unlace,

whip off and throw faster than Paladin

draws his gun, shoe that could hunt

me down like the Texas Rangers,

even if it took years, even if she died

while she was throwing her shoe,

even if she managed to throw it

from the ramparts of heaven, the way

she threw it from a third story window

while I stood half a block away, laughing

at her with my friends, thinking,

it could never hit me from this far,

until I stood suddenly alone,

abandoned by my cowardly friends,

alone in the frozen cross-eyed knowledge

that El Zapato, black, smoking with righteousness,

was slowly, inevitably spinning toward my forehead.

Richard Garcia

For several years Richard Garcia was poet-in-residence at the Long Beach Museum of Art and at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where he conducted poetry and art workshops for hospitalized children. He has won many awards for his poetry including a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He currently lives in South Carolina and teaches in the Antioch University MFA program and at the College of Charleston. “El Zapato” is from his collection Rancho Notorious, published by BOA Editions Ltd. © and is reprinted by permission.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Property astir on El Cajon Blvd.

Lafayette Hotel, Red Fox Room, Mississippi Apartments
Next Article

Ideal round of golf: “any Wednesday evening at Mission Bay with three friends and 12 Stellas”

Lowest score wins
Comments
2

Oh My God, that is brilliant. I LOVE THIS POEM.

Feb. 16, 2010

Sounds a lot like Pablo Neruda's odes.

Feb. 16, 2010

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close