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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 12: March 2022
Poem: 287 words
By Joan Penn

Oh, My Feet. My Poor, Poor Feet

What are you saying? That I lack compassion? 
Suggesting I walk a mile in someone else’s shoes? 
No way, my friend, you’re asking too much of me. 

It’s psychic energy I lack, not empathy. 
I have woes of my own to worry about. 
Truth be told, I’m probably too old. 
It’s difficult enough to walk a mile 
in my own shoes, let alone in 
shoes that don’t fit. 

I’m not unsympathetic, but 
what if I lost my balance and stumbled 
as I tried to stride forward. 

Why I could break a bone. Besides, 
how do I know I wouldn’t get stuck 
wearing a pair of oversized snowshoes 
in a blizzard? Just my luck. 
I’d have trouble walking two feet 
under such extreme conditions. 

Yes, friend, the pun was intended. 
Sometimes levity is called for when 
it’s a matter of life and death. 

You have a habit of weighing me down 
with heavy conundrums. I understand 
where you’re coming from. 
You want me to act like a Good Samaritan, 
but, for Heaven’s sake, my whole body aches 
at the thought of assuming another person’s 
burden. In addition to wearing their shoes, 
do you expect me to carry their backpack? 

And, you haven’t even handed me a roadmap. 
Shouldn’t a map be part of the bargain? 
Or do you expect me to intuit 
the right road to travel, 
the correct path to take 
to avoid dead ends 
and detours, 

torn-up surfaces, 
straddle hurdles 
and other obstacles 
that I might encounter 
as I walk a mile 
in someone else’s shoes. 

What if they were flip-flops? 

Too tall an order, my friend. 
I doubt that my poor feet could stand it. 


Joan Penn
Issue 12, March 2022

lives in NYC and has a professional background in theater and photography. She has attended workshops with poets Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Scott Hightower, and Jessica Greenbaum, and is currently participating in a virtual workshop with Paris-based Gracie Bialecki. She is also a member of The Yorkville Writing Circle. Recent publication credits include poems in Griffel, High Shelf Press, The Rose in the World, and in two anthologies published by Moonstone Arts Press. One of her poems was included in a recent theatrical presentation, “Superheroes & Other Men.”

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