Saturday, July 23, 2011

slavic shoes

my great grandfather
wore slavic shoes
he brought them from
the old country along with a slavic name
and a slavic wife

they were known
as Joseph and Mary surname
ending in (wicz)
they had five children
they wore american shoes - shoes
they shared, shoes that
knew walking and working
one child was named Joseph his
name ending in (vich) -

he married Grace
she made Joe leave his shoes
on the porch, wash his
hands and go to mass on Sundays
she sat in the back
seat of the car, wore her
Sunday shoes,  and
she wore her

Joseph was my
grandfather - gave me a maiden
name no one could pronounce
correctly - so i was
set on changing it first chance -
as a grandfather
he walked a lot, laughed
a lot and when Grace was dying
he got drunk and cried

yet, he passed down
a name and a pair of
shoes i could never
walk in - they were too big for me
like his slavic heart

copyrighted 2011

The church is St. Peter and Paul in Gilman MN - my grandfather helped to construct this church as well as all the parishioners - all my Slavic ancestors are buried there bearing two different versions of name - binding the old world to the new..


  1. like his heart...what an endearing closing the jaunt through your changes and different shoes along...nice bk

  2. What a beautiful poem, BKM. I love the poignant ending... Some shoes are hard to fill. I am sure your grandfather's were!

  3. Glad you still carry, and can share, those memories. My grandfather was named Ragnar, and my grandmother also wore a babushka, though she learned that word from our Polish neighbors, I think. They are my tie to an older world, where shoes had to last a very long time indeed.

    Beautiful legacy to leave, that church. And your poem/their memories.

  4. Your poem is a moving legacy to the memory of all those who had to walk before you so that you could make your own journey. It spoke to me of the way I have tried to fill other's shoes, even when ill-fitted. Thank you.

  5. Oh my soul! What a finish! This week saw me laying my grandfather to rest, so there has been much talk of fitting shoes and legacies. This is so amazingly fitting for where I REALLY am right now. Call it divine intervention...but thank you!

  6. What a beautiful poem - you brought tears to my eyes. I can see your grandfather - I imagine him as a person who lived life with a "big shoe"

  7. I like the family history...very interesting.

    perhaps you might want to edit:
    walk in - they were *too* big for me

    this is a nice tribute to his legacy ...

  8. I admire what you did with the shoes theme, turning it into a metaphor for the journey of generations.

  9. thanks everyone for comments and thanks much Heaven for the too and is one of my biggest or biggest writing error...I can not seem to make it stick in this brain....bkm

  10. Lovely poem and a touching tribute. Also, an absolutely gorgeous church that your grandfather helped to build.


  11. Thanks for the story of your heritage. Any regrets about changing your name(assuming you did)?

  12. Your ending is just plain beautiful and touching. Our lives are so far removed, sometimes, from where we truly come from. Lovely.

  13. The final close is so touching I felt it ring in my heart. I quite enjoyed the harmony of this piece, lovey write ~ Rose

  14. I only changed my last name through marriage...but the (k) in bkm is for my maiden is a tribute to this heritage...bkm

  15. So poignant but sans anything saccharine. Those shoes held a man that rose high in stature and left his mark in stone. Well said, excellent.

  16. Interesting walk through family history...

  17. It's nice learning a bit more about your heritage. Thanks for sharing it.

  18. This poem reminds me fo the shopes we walk in, the shoes of those before us and how much we owe them. Lovely poem, B.K.

  19. This is just an amazing poem... gave me goosebumps by the time I got to the end. What a testimony to family ties.

  20. My Grandgrand parents were also named Mary and Joseph. Joseph was Irish and my Greatgrand Mother, Mary was German. Family ties are tangled weavings. Your write is so amazing!

  21. What a story teller you are. The poem engaged from the beginning until the end. I think Grandfather would be pleased.

  22. Fine bit of family history -- the history of its heart as expressed in its shoes. - Brendan

  23. I love the way you connect past and present, generation to generation, old country to new here. A brilliant way to use shoes! Thank you.

  24. a beautiful look into the history that makes you...wonderful :)

  25. I thought about the kinds of shoes our grandfathers wore: hard soles, they crackled and crunched the grit on the sidewalk.

    (That painting of Blake on your sidebar is one I've never seen before)

  26. AKA Tom Eliot:

    I can only echo - Beautiful - a lovely personal insight told in a strong voice.