Poetry Man

I’m cross posting this from my other blog… again, if you’re interested, let me know and I’ll link you.

Today, while I was waiting for the 49 bus which is never on time, I saw a man standing across the street wearing a sign around his neck. I knew who he was–I’d passed him the other day on the street elsewhere in the area–and I knew what the sign said: “Poems, free today and every day forever”. When I saw him the first time, I did what I found a lot of Londoners do around strange people, I recoiled a bit inside and gave him wide berth as I passed him on the pavement.

Poetry Man was dressed the same today as he was a few days ago, but his clothes were obviously clean. He’s all the same color; khaki slacks, a camel/tan colored checked vest and beige undershirt and a light tan jacket over the top. His shoes were a darker shade of tan and he even had a tan colored baseball cap on. With all that light tan and khaki, you know dirt is going to show; but there wasn’t a speck of dirt on this man.

While waiting for the bus, I watched him. Mums with prams hurried by, concerned he might make a move and everyone else pretty much ignored him. He wasn’t bothered by that, he didn’t speak to people. Just stood there with the sign around his neck and a rolled up newspaper under one arm and a small shopping bag in the other hand. He wasn’t asking for money or food or a handout. He just wanted to give out poetry to people. That made me wonder: what kind of a poem would he give me, were I brave enough to even ask for one? Would it be a random poem? Would it be a poem based off of the split second impression he had of me? Would it be a Shakespearean sonnet or a few lines by Auden or Dickinson? Perhaps a bit of Plath? Or maybe it would be a Japanese haiku? Maybe it would be a poem of his own–maybe he would reach in his little shopping bag, pull out a little slip of paper with his own words written on it and send me on my way.

And what kind of a story must a person have to walk the streets with a sign around their neck, wanting to give away poetry to people?

I’ll never know.

The bus came just as I began to contemplate going across the street to speak to him.

But if I see Poetry Man again, you’d better believe I’m going to ask for my poem and I’m also going to insist on paying for it.



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