Shoe store display

Poems and flash fiction in The Voice are presented in collaboration with Nimrod International Journal at The University of Tulsa. For more information about Nimrod, visit

A bicycle ride to Utica Square

The boy balances a shoeshine kit on

the handlebars. He can make four dollars

in a day shining oilmen’s boots and they

tip well, too. He’ll buy a Tulsa World for

them to read while standing, one foot up

on his shine box, then the other. One will

whistle through his teeth and do a soft

aw-haaww of a Bob Wills swing song,

and another will roll his pants up and

say, “Polish the whole boot, son.” On

the way he sees the coveted bb gun at

the hardware store. Three seventy-nine

will leave twenty-one cents for a

chocolate root beer at the drug store.

When he’s an oilman, he’ll hand the

kid a dollar and say, “Keep the change.”

Guinotte Wise is the author of the short story collection Night Train, Cold Beer, and his fiction and poetry have been published in numerous literary journals, including Atticus, The MacGuffin, Southern Humanities Review, Rattle, and The American Journal of Poetry. He lived in Tulsa until the age of fifteen and begged his parents to leave him there when they moved. He now resides in Kansas.

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