Tuesday Poem – Should I tell the Dalai Lama that my shoes are in the freezer?

Why has he come here
the Dalai Lama
to talk to me of China and Tibetans?
What can I do about China?
I can’t even find my shoes.

I’m sure I left them in my friend’s car
but she says,
‘no they’re not there.
Try Shirley.’

I think they’re in someone’s deep freeze.
They are red.
Someone has peered in the bag
said ‘ah, mince,’
and tossed them among the beef burgers.

The Dalai Lama
he has a lovely laugh.
I could tell him about my shoes
deep frozen
waiting to be turned into goulash.

He would chuckle and gurgle
then peer at me and say,
‘better to keep shoes in freezer than dead cows.’

(c) Helen McKinlay

I wrote this poem in the 1990s.  I was living in Golden Bay and we had taken the girls over to Nelson, to see the Dalai Lama. Also I had lost my red shoes, so that much is true. This poem has been around a lot.  I love reading it to an audience. I read the title and then pause.  That’s probably all they need to hear.  It was published in Boulder Writers 2, (Nelson 2008).  To read more Tuesday Poems, please return to the Tuesday Hub where Elizabeth Welsh discusses a stimulating poem by Mary Cresswell.

13 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem – Should I tell the Dalai Lama that my shoes are in the freezer?

  1. Helen I really love this! It’s sweet and humorous, but also really plays into that feeling of uselessness that comes when faced with really huge issues like Tibet – I can never find my shoes either!

  2. I totally agree with the two previous comments – but have to add – you’re right – it is a fantastic title – but the rest of the poem is a gem as well. Loved the ending.

  3. This really made me laugh, Helen – so much wit! I began chuckling when I saw the title pop up on the TP sidebar and it lured me over to read it. The ‘searching’ image stuck with me throughout and the yearning to find lost objects. So wonderful!!

    • Hello Elizabeth,
      great that you had a chuckle. I thought it was time for laughter. The yearning to find lost objects…an interesting phrase. Speaks of much deeper things.:-)

  4. it’s a lovely funny poem – BUT – the shoes are probably made of leather, most shoes are, so in a sense there are dead cows in the freezer

  5. this has a sense of play it in yes, but also the juxtaposition of the larger issues with the slighter ones. I can’t do anything about China/ I can’t find my shoes. I like the way it remains so light — even if the shoes are frozen (in time?). Great poem, loved coming here this morning.

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