If I could reach back and speak to my eight-year-old self, industriously writing the 1960s version of fanfiction (i.e., my takes on Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins, in pencil in composition books) in my bedroom in San Diego, the one with the plum tree right outside my sliding glass door, I’d say: Well, guess what. When you’re 54 you’ll have published some fiction and stuff and now you’re a reporter and you’ve traveled all around the world (and married wisely and had two great kids also, let’s not forget) and you wrote a poem about an annual ritual some friends of yours engage in, in which people throw their old shoes into a bonfire as if burning up their sorrows and sins—yes, real shoes, made of leather and rubber and god knows what — and then write and sing about it. And your poem is now part of this story. How cool is that? Pretty cool.