Queer Poem-a-Day is a program from the Adult Services Department at the Library and may include adult language.
Ode to Sneakers
by Tory Adkisson
arranged in a pile, stinking like wildflowers,
used gym socks protruding
from their mouths like stamen.
Why is the stink of bacteria so alluring to me?
The accumulation of single cells in a dark,
damp sole, the minutiae of Adidas, Chucks,
& Nikes lying on the floor
with mute tongues. This is my secret
that stops being a secret
when I write it. There are four guys
living here, around twenty or twenty-five pairs
between them. Upstairs I hear them snoring,
masturbating, watching old war movies
while I lean low & lift a shoe to my nose
to inhale its bitter acid. I’m breathing in
a chronicle of the day’s many male
labors—running track, basketball, P90X—
with closed eyes, aware that this metonymy
can’t draw me to a field, or us any
closer, than taste or touch might.
It’s too dark. Too difficult to grasp anything beyond
myself—& even then, being invisible is exciting.
Just listening is exciting. Above me
thunder rolls, mattresses squeak, bombs
are going off. Down here, I’m face down in the chasm
between shame & denial, my erection
a bridge to a better, more sensual world.
Copyright © 2021 by Tory Adkisson. Originally published in the New Orleans Review, and then in his book The Flesh Between Us (South Illinois University Press, 2021).
About the Author
Tory Adkisson is the author of The Flesh Between Us (SIU Press, 2021), winner of the Crab Orchard Series Open Book Competition. His poems have appeared widely in journals such as Third Coast, Crazyhorse, Adroit Journal, Boston Review, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. He lives in Oakland and teaches writing at UC Berkeley.
Queer Poem a Day
- Day 1: Self Portrait as a Body, a Sea by Donika Kelly
- Day 2: Birthday Suits by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza
- Day 3: Obsessions by Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué
- Day 4: The Baby Inside My Baby by Nomi Stone
- Day 5: To Be Saved by CM Burroughs
- Day 6: At the New York City AIDS Memorial by Stefania Gomez
- Day 7: Love in the Time of PrEP by Jaques Rancourt
- Day 8: The Morning After by Ellen Bass
- Day 9: Argument of Situations by Shangyang Fang
- Day 10: Ode to Sneakers by Tory Adkisson
- Day 11: Boombox Ode: Enjoy the Silence
- Day 12: Soon by Makshya Tolbert
- Day 13: Photograph by Jenny George
- Day 14: Salt Lake City by Christian Gullette
- Day 15: Humpty Dumpty by Spencer Reece
- Day 16: The Antihero by Megan Fernandes
- Day 17: On Growing Bored with Synonyms for the Apocalypse, I Rename It Carl… by C. Russell Price
- Day 18: All My Friends are Sad & Bright by Cameron Awkward-Rich
- Day 19: 2000 miles and this is the love letter I send you over text by Noa/h Fields
- Day 20: Book VI from The Queerness of Eve by Emilia Phillips
- Day 21: Oracle by Ari Banias
- Day 22: gxrl gospel iv: beast of a southern wild by Aurielle Marie
- Day 23: Let There Be Pride by Richard Blanco
- Day 24: Jacob Riis Memorial Beach by Stephen Ira
- Day 25: from Dependence, the Joistrix / How you are made by Emily Martin
- Day 26: The Need for Repitition by Jim Whiteside
- Day 27: Arm’d and Fearless by Julian Gewirtz
- Day 28: Polyamory by Madeleine Cravens
- Day 29: GPOY as Rainbowfrog.gif by Aerik Francis
- Day 30: Gay Epithalamium by Benjamin Garcia
Queer Poem-a-Day is directed by poet and teacher Lisa Hiton and Dylan Zavagno, Adult Services Coordinator at the Deerfield Public Library. Music for this second year of our series is the first movement, Schéhérazade, from Masques, Op. 34, by Karol Szymanowski, performed by pianist Daniel Baer. Queer Poem-a-Day is supported by generous donations from the Friends of the Deerfield Public Library and the Deerfield Fine Arts Commission.