And we begin to rock steady

36-365 050214 Night Fiti

All my life I’ve seen sneakers on wires hanging over the City but damn if I know what it means. I’ve heard a couple of theories but never anything 100% concrete. And so I think it might be time to explore this question a little further in some poems, maybe even some short fiction. Of course, all of this fits right into Anywhere Avenue but it may also fit into a new chapbook project.

Yeah, and that’s my long way around the block way of sying that I think I’m going to jump into a new project.

Now, if anyone who’s reading this would love to drop YOUR personal theories of sneaker on telephone wires/power lines I would be happy to read ’em.

At the Edge of the City

I toss my sneakers in the air
   and catch a telephone line
to broadcast my stance—
   to stay steady
to my crew,
   to stay steady
to my word and bond—

   to keep the City
fresh and fly
   with a quick step
and a glide,
   and rock steady

in the face of the
   piked air flare
of the dawn.

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  1. Well, I have no idea about the sneaker thing (maybe they throw them up there and make a wish?), but “And we begin to rock steady” wins “The Blog Post Title of the Year,” in Nesting Ground’s 100% fictional Blog Post Title of the Year Competition.

    Wow. That was a bad sentence. And long.

  2. Someone told me once that sneakers on the line signalled drug dealing on the block…which seems to me like some highly unwanted publicity waiting to happen. “Hey cops! Lookit me, I got some CRACK!” Also heard it was a tribute to the fallen from the block. That might be more plausible. I seen em do it with bottles in trees.

  3. In Berkeley it always happened around frat row so it lacked any kind of significance beyond white boys gone inebriated for me.

    On another note, I like your line breaks in this poem. These make the poem much more punchy than the original poem/the one you riffed off.

  4. i’ve come to believe they mean someone has been killed/died — the shoes belonging to that person who has died.

    two artists: a friend/artist william cordova has a piece called “shit.damn.motherfucker.” depicts this. we talked about it, and he believes it as such. also, major jackson in either the poem hoops or urban renewal (now, the trouble is, figuring out if it’s in the book hoops or leaving saturn…) but he mentions the “proverbial sneakers on telephone line” ….in context of folks dying, if I remember correctly.

    something to think about.


  5. Ver: Thanks for the prize. I’m glad I didn’t go with my first choice: The Mystery of Flying Kicks.

    Rich: I, too, have heard of the dealin on the block/tribute to the fallen theories. Now, bottles on trees? That’s a new one to me.

    Barb: Whatever the origins, this sure does seem to be a “guys” kinda tradition. Uhhm, maybe I can flip that perspective a bit.
    Thanks on the comment about the line breaks. The poem started from this Adonis poem (which you sent to me– poem challenge!) but I modified it quite a bit since then.

    Delana: Good looking out on the info. I’m not sure what “conclusion” my writing will come to but I hope it’s going to be an interesting journey. I have Leaving Saturn in the house (a personal favorite, by the way) and this is a great reason to re-read it.

    And a shout to Sunny, who sent me this Snopes info.

    Thanks, y’all!

  6. Bottles on the trees is also an African/Caribbean thing. It’s like a memorial for the spirit or a way to catch duppies. I’ve heard what Rich heard. AND I do like this poem.

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