Tuesday, Feb. 08, 2005 - 11:42 a.m.
AC/DC blasts out of the back of his wheelchair and he rocks his head to the timing of the drum beats. He is wearing a black, sleeveless Metallica T-shirt and challenges each passer-by with a stare; he does not need to even say the words, you're not worthy. Behind him is a large mural of Dr. Martin Luther King hovering over planet Earth, with the words "I have a dream ...". The three dots is morse code for the word unfulfilled, but the man in the wheelchair probably does not realize that he too, is a portrait of unfulfillment. The year he tried to get his band signed, all the girlfriends who walked in, and finally walked out, and then the car accident. He doesn't have much to do everyday, so he wheels himself to the mural, to let the people who walk by him know that he is better than all of them, this legless juxtaposition of rebellion, and impotence.
He does not have shoes, or even a piece of cloth to lay his wares on. All he has are the slim volumes of poetry, that he has been forced to sell. There are ten books lying on the pavement, copies of TS Eliots and Robert Lowells that he knows by hard. There is some irony here, of a poet being forced to sell his books of poetry, but he refuses to think about it. If the poet is lucky, he will have twenty dollars at the end of the day, and the memory of turning their yellowed pages.
He exists like a haiku, briefly interrupting the sidewalk with a measured elegance. He is unkempt but his hands are graceful as they crease each fold of an origami crane. He kneels on the sidewalk folding his paper cranes, flowers and boxes, and like his origami, there is an austerity in his posture as well. He does not look up from his craft, and there is no acknowledgement of the pedestrians who linger to watch him fold. When he packs up, his movements are slow, carefully flattening each piece and placing them all into a single box. Soon he is gone and like a haiku, there is no trace that he was ever here at all.
previous - next