Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California. He has work in The Cortland Review, Windfall, eclectica, Blue Hour, and others.
He won the 2011 SuRaa short fiction award.
Blue Jeans as Spiritual Utility
I can strike a match
on the zipper of my jeans
and if the jeans are stiff,
can stand on their own,
they’ll work like the strip
on the box and light
that bulbous tip.
They’ll sop up grease
and take the black
from changing a tire
and not change color,
stay true no matter
how I try to change
their loyalty with dirty deeds,
fade, but like water
infect the mood of the day.
They’ll look good with the boot
I’ll get from a job
as well as the shoe-
in welcome at my mom’s screen door.
I won’t ever see them wrinkle
with age or fear,
I won’t wash them for a week
and like forgiveness purifies sin
they will come clean.
I will rise in the morning
and put one leg on
and then the other,
my wandering left foot
stabilized by my conscientious right,
joined at my waist
not by a snap but a button
held by a yawning, pardoning hole.
I leave it almost anywhere,
work, store, on the back of a chair.
Each year I think I’ll buy another
but the arms reach out like a child
and tug my legs when I walk by,
and though I pretend not to notice
the way a busy parent does,
I reach down and gather it up
as if my skin cannot resist,
as if my genetic sequence
has been reordered and I must save
the coat from lost and found
like a nun does with an orphan.
I’ve worn the comfort out of it
which makes it all the more luxurious.
One year I know a change in size
will mean a quick donation,
so hope the ghosts of pocket notes
will haunt the next
who tries it on, keeps, and loses it,
but finds it climbing back
upon his hook or hanger.
I could let loose about the flapping tongue,
using an awl to pierce the stiffened leather
as if it were my pride and cowardice,
say a few words about scuffs
and dirt and spit, about the silence
a worn tongue tends.
But it’s not the arch
but the plain flat sole I love,
ready to be used for a step,
a stumble, yet willing to step again.