where did you get those socks

my mother dangled a pair of

argyle socks in her left hand

these aren’t yours

they certainly

don’t belong to your father


I didn’t want to tell her

I got them from a girl

in my class at school

we had swapped socks at recess

I had loved the way

the argyle socks looked

in her brightly polished penny loafers

she liked my ordinary red socks

that matched her tartan skirt

so we swapped


I saw them as socks

not as girls wear

yet at that moment

I was afraid


to tell my mother

that I owned that pair of girls’ socks


I found them in your drawer

she said

looking for the mate to this one

she held up a black sock


going through my drawers

was something she often did

to make sure I hadn’t

just stuck my worn undies or socks

in there

which I did just so as not to have them

all over the floor


I found them

I finally blurted out

found them!

she exclaimed

you brought a dirty pair of socks

into my house

how did you know they didn’t have fleas

or something worse?


I washed them before I brought them home

I said

washed them? where!

         at school

then you cant take them back

to where you find them

and don’t let ever catch you

bringing home dirty clothes

you find in the street


she tossed them on bed


they’re nice socks I said


what do think

people will think

that we can’t afford to buy socks

I nodded

I guess you’re right


she was lucky

I didn’t bring the skirt home too

Separating truth from fiction is never easy in this age of confessional poetry. Whose voice am I allowed to speak in? If this Socks story didn’t happen a, I allowed to assumed the voice of someone to whom it did happen? Can poetry be fiction? Does the piece capture true emotion even if doesn’t capture an actual moment. Authenticity doesn’t allow for fiction.

This piece wrote itself. It began with this sense of how some things get gendered to the point where there is no a boy could dare wear a girl’s socks. Clothing was segregated by colour & pattern when I was growing up. Lace was fine for females, males could never wear it. At one time if your belt buckle was on the left & not the right you weren’t wearing that belt in a gender appropriate way? So I created this scenario, that seems to me to be very movie like, though in the movie my hero might pull that skirt out of a more secret hiding place. 

My mother did go through my closet & drawers looking for dirty clothes – she did berate me for wearing dirty clothes because of what people would think. I also knew that I wasn’t like other boys but, as I have talked about in other posts, thought that being a fag – meant I wanted to be female too. A confusion that didn’t leave me until my later teens. I was too scared to try any sort of cross-dressing though. The closest I got to that was a couple of mens tuxedo short that did have lace fronts & cuffs. Needless to say I didn’t wear them to hockey practice 🙂

Once I started writing this piece I was easily drawn into my hero’s dilemma though. The things about myself that I hid from family & friends as I realizing my sexuality & cutting away the cultural suppositions I had accepted as facts but which proved to be myths. This piece worked so well I have performed it a few times. Do I have a skirt? To find out send donations to my paypal below 🙂


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s – sweet,eh?

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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