ON THE COLLECTION OF 70 PAIRS OF SHOES FILLED WITH BUTTER

This one won a prize for humorous poetry, from Fine Madness. Amazing what you find when reading the wire services on night rewrite! Courtesy of Coffeedrome.

ON THE COLLECTION OF 70 PAIRS OF SHOES FILLED WITH BUTTER

FOUND BY HUNTERS IN JAEMTLAND ON OCTOBER 5, 2003

“And now,” Max cried, “Let the wild rumpus start!”

–Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak


Perhaps it commemorates the churn of cloud bank,

the opposite of melt, lard’s own liturgy, the holiness of bale.

Left over from the equinox, it must have something to do with Laplanders.

Or dairy voodoo. Musk ox adulation, a summoning of northern lights.

Early gift for bad Santa, to balance out the cookies and milk. An annually-answered,

secret last wish of a medieval cobbler dried up from hunger.

Perhaps this explains the sudden appearance of the green-circle GO signs.

And why the encyclopedia salesman decided to dial 911 on a sales call,

and the girl who was deathly afraid of laces when she was four.

I would like to know if these were slides or mules or tap shoes, all belonging

to the same person, the object of the roommates’ impractical joke,

like when my fellow lifeguards soaked my underwear in the pool,

froze it and ran it up the flagpole before the biggest date in July,

less like Mike’s roommate who rigged a Blue Hubbard squash

to fall on him when he walked in, causing a concussion and hospital visit.

Maybe they were discards, too ugly to sell at the mission. Was the butter fresh

or rancid? Salty or sweet? Seventy pounds, at $4 a pound, plus the cost of shoes?

What size were they? Were they in pairs? Who got to clean it all up? Does butter burn?

I like to picture the perps, giggling to themselves, their shoulders shaking, always

about to be caught by the teacher as they swirled the knife at the end of each stuffing,

smoothing the surface to serrated elegance, just to but not over the rim of the upper.

There must have been a soundtrack, and perhaps mead or Madeira or egg creams.

A waltz by Strauss or Iron Maiden, a collection of children’s songs, hokey pokey,

rumpelstiltskin and blind mice. Chicken fights, three-legged races, swinging from birches.

Was the moon visible, a half full sky smile? Did they sleep there,

or in their nearby kayaks, to admire their work. Perhaps, finished,

they swung from a tire into a fjord. Waited for the hunters. Lit farts.

Is this a serial crime? Is there a psychological diagnosis available? No manifesto’d

performance artist, or people for the advancement of butter cows, some joyless such.

Not with waste or spite, but out of fun, by chilly, bushed and bushwacking Swedes

wanting to make it, eventually, to the Associated Press, the Daily News.

Were charges filed or fines levied? Or better, awards given,

for stepping out of the iron agreement of sense and act?

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