Elegy for a Poet Who Loved Sneakers

Elegy for a Poet Who Loved Sneakers



I didn’t know who you were, and then you died.
I went searching for your poems online
devouring one after another then reading
your Twitter feed backwards, your voice getting
younger and younger, and that’s where I found
the last pair of sneakers you ever bought: all-black
AirMax 90s. I have a black pair, too,
and a pair that are pink and teal. I don’t wear
either of them enough, and that’s one problem
with loving sneakers. The more you obsess over
them, the more you buy, and the less you wear
each pair. In college my friend Arshad told me
that every year you add to your life, the shorter
each one is in relation to the total, the significance
of each day diminishing as you collect them.
Goddamn, I said, but kept wanting days
to be over so I could get to the next one.
If I had found your poems just a few months earlier
I could have emailed you. You asked people
to do that. You’d worked in a casino
and said you’d teach them the right way to play
blackjack. We could have talked about cards and then
shoes and then basketball. We would have gotten
to poems eventually, or we wouldn’t have.
There’s nothing new about poems, and no one
knows the right way to write them. Now
I’m watching a craft talk you gave about the body—
how we feel it before we know it’s failing—
and that’s what it is about sneakers, isn’t it?
They’re part of the body, but they come off.

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