Bazooka Joe at the Shoe Store by Zak Mucha

Walking past a construction site and through
the creosote cloud of a childhood
shoe store, a kid embarrassed by the clerk’s
gift of a hard square of pink gum wrapped in
a Bazooka Joe comic meant for some
other kid now long gone, leaving the first
kid ashamed to be wanting more than new
shoes, wanting to find more than the broken
pots and untoothed combs buried under the
centuries of ash and mud of textbooks
or the National Geographic map
of Mars circa 1973 meant
for some other kid who is also me
sending letters to the Papaya King
asking of allergens to prepare
for some new kid’s birthday party.

Zak Mucha, LCSW, is a psychoanalyst in Chicago. He is the author of Emotional Abuse: A Manual for Self-Defense, a book of poetry – Shadow Box, and the forthcoming Swimming to the Horizon: Crack, Psychosis, and Street-Corner Social Work.


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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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