See my good, clean, red shoes: they're new!
They stand out like street lights in the dirty London dark.
You hoped it would happen on a street kerb, preferably
Smoky, so you would be killing yourself at the same time.
I told you they don't make a difference to the way you act,
But still you flatter, so coy, and teasing,
Letting them hug you.

The red shoes made you do it.

Their shininess is like the inside surface of your skin.
You are a mirror, bolts of light reflecting and rebounding
Off your smooth insides.
You are a paper man, or stick-woman, with healthy
Criss-crosses inside you,
Stomach hurting from the pin-pricks they make on your skin.
That is what these hard little knobs are,
Poking out of your clothes, like nipples, but in the wrong places.

The wet pressed through to your skin as you sat on the kerb.
You watched people with black umbrellas almost trip over you.
You planned on smiling in a mocking way, but the skin
On your face constricted and you became a statue.

I was flipping the pancakes on the corner,
Writing poetic description, dalliances with writing, on the
Back of menus spattered with crêpe batter.
You moved off and I couldn't follow you.
Our red shoes, twins in night, remembered the others sole.
They would come back for each other.
I could not leave you on one foot, hopping ungainly.

I told myself to go downstairs, to meet the boys and the girls,
Let them touch and stare,
Sucking on their own fingers like they had finished a carton of popcorn.
Eventually I rationalised with myself. I would not go.
No, I would not go
Down to the wolvish eyes, the virile bodies like hot sparks,
Ready to jump on you, to pain you sharply, minutely, and
To burn.
I learned, anyhow, that the red shoes
Would do it for me.

I pattered down to the room, told a few jokes here,
Performed some minor steps there.
The shoes spotlighted me.
I felt the people's hot, anguished stares at the back of my throat,
Their bear-imaginings fervent on the nape of my neck.
I let them look.
I bent backwards, I gussied myself up like a demanding customer,
I served myself on a plate and let them fight.

It surprised me,
Astonished me, even,
That they did not fight.
I was embarrassed red as my shoes.
The shoes stole me, slinking away to the same street
Corner where they'd lost their twin.

You found me there; the red shoes were reunited.
Gasping from the sticky burns where they had soldered themselves
Hot onto my feet,
I untied the red ribbons and let the shoes
Just drop
Off my feet.