Slipfoot and How He Nearly Always Never Gets What He Goes After

Carl Sandburg January 5, 2019
North American
3 min read
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Blixie Bimber flipped out of the kitchen one morning, first saying good-by to the dish- pan, good-by to the dish-rag, good-by to the dish-towel for wiping dishes. Under one arm she put a basket of peonies she picked, under the other arm she put a basket of jonquils she picked. Then she flipped away up the street and downtown where she put the baskets of peonies and jonquils one on each side of the Potato Face Blind Man. “I picked the pink and lavender peonies and I picked the yellow jonquils for you to be smelling one on each side of you this fine early summer morning,” she said to the Poato Face.

“Have you seen anybody good to see lately?” “Slipfoot was here this morning,” said the old man. “And who is Slipfoot?” asked Blixie. “I don’t know. He says to me, ‘I got a foot always slips. I used to wash windows—and my foot slips. I used to be king of the collar buttons, king of a million dollars—and my foot slips. I used to be king of the peanuts, king of a million dollars again. I used to be king of the oyster cans, selling a million cans a day. I used to be king of the peanut sacks, selling ten million sacks a day. And every time I was a king my foot slips. Every time I had a million dollars my foot slips. I went high and put my foot higher my foot slips. Somebody gave me a slipfoot. I always slip.'”

“So you call him Slipfoot?” asked Blixie.

“Yes,” said the old man. “Has he been here before?”

“Yes, he was here a year ago, saying, ‘I marry a woman and she runs away. I run after her—and my foot slips. I always get what I want—and then my foot slips. “I ran up a stairway to the moon one night. I shoveled a big sack full of little gold beans, little gold bricks, little gold bugs, on the moon and I ran down the stairway from the moon. On the last step of the stairway, my foot slips —and all the little gold beans, all the little gold bricks, all the little gold bugs, spill out and spill away. When I get down the stair- way I am holding the sack and the sack holds nothing. I am all right always till my foot slips. “I jump on a trapeze and I go swinging, swinging, swinging out where I am going to take hold of the rainbow and bring it down where we can look at it close. And I hang by my feet on the trapeze and I am swinging out where I am just ready to take hold of the rainbow and bring it down. Then my foot slips.”

“What is the matter with Slipfoot?” asks Blixie.

“He asks me that same question,” answered the Potato Face Blind Man. “He asks me that every time he comes here. I tell him all he needs is to get his slipfoot fixed so it won’t slip. Then he’ll be all right.”

“I understand you,” said Blixie. “You make it easy. You always make it easy. And before I run away will you promise me to smell of the pink and lavender peonies and the yellow jonquils all day today?”

“I promise,” said the Potato Face. “Promises are easy. I like promises.”

“So do I,” said the little girl. “It’s promises pushing me back home to the dish-pan, the dish-rag, and the dish-towel for wiping dishes.”

“Look out you don’t get a slipfoot,” warned the old man as the girl flipped up the street going home.


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