“Was there…a dark place

                                      an unhappining

                                      a glow forsook a sun

                                      and suddeningly a

                                      Glow beheld.the beheld

                                      As a Sun sinned in

                                        every shadow.”

                                    -Lloyd William Grant-


            I just passed  by a cold mendicant

                              standing in front                        the metal blinds

                                                                                          of an office window;

                                                                                          not moving in his/her place,

                                                                                          maybe a foot from the glass.


But I can’t ‘slip into that’,   stand and stare

at someone ‘lost’ standing and staring

at the glass like a constellation.     Still walking, I am literally

‘forming the thought’ in my head how

in the past two days


I have seen an enormous (‘disabled’?) man,

sweat pants hanging off his ass,


pulling mud and muck, maybe bits of grass and things

from a curb at a street corner, tossing it behind him,

stooped as he is,

wiping the mud and muck, maybe bits of grass, incongruous things, upon his pants;


and how, just in the past two days,

I have literally seen two people of such a   hopeless     disconnect   that it kills me, this place,

because some of the homeless do better than these two,

pull the butts from ashtrays

to smoke, or sing their way to malt liquor,

with such an enabling generosity fill me

with such stories as Mexico thirty years ago,

as a gringo with a taste for tequila and a motorcycle, and God the Señoritas, los mendigos,


or ebony wood and its virtue in the realm of nautical nuts and bolts…


I wrote a poem with another human, ‘Drunk Indian’, Lloyd William Grant:

walking through the streets in the same light, record-breaking rain

a slumped, huddled body asking for me to change asking me for change

that becomes a sandy face and bleary eyes thanking me to change for change

with such bleary eyes and we exchange

words that are at least warmer than the rain and the night and the people walking ‘past’ and

the street lights and the bars and the hip kids–such as a beautiful Asian kid crouched under a cymbal as an umbrella

and the tin tin tin of it–

and he thanks me, brother, and what can you do but walk on;

I had a book of Leslie Scalapino poetry in my hand and walking on

I hear him ask me what I am reading, and I turn to tell him poetry,

and I am back again, crouched under the light,

record-breaking rain, and he tells me that

is what he does, smelling of malt liquor, and we get to talking,

he apologizes for being an alcoholic,

you don’t need to apologize,


                        and we ‘begin’:

he tells me three minutes is how he likes to do the little ones,

though really he’s more for the long, epic poetry, yea,

and I’m sure he could;

so he asked me for a word, glow,

and I asked him for a sheet of paper,

and for the next five minutes, we were both scrawling,

crouched   and  curled between the two of us,

and, at the end of it, gifted poetry, shook hands, read aloud to one another what we had written,

                                                            (fingers thick and strong, hand soft and yielding)

he wrote it on a piece of paper crumbled like the face of another cold mendicant I’ve seen

under a bus stop and the letters were themselves so crumpled, and there was ‘another’ poem

written above, a line dashed between the two, that I now have, and I feel like something of a thief.


It is significant that I will never see what I wrote and read to him.

And it is significant that it is not lost.


I was walking through the light, record-breaking rain

thinking about all of the hope and

hopeless disconnect that had just hit me for the some hundredth time

with a cold mendicant

standing so still, good posture, in front                 the cold metal blinds and glass,

                                                                          of an office window pane;

                                                                          (when you infer pain

                                                                           from the blank of someone

                                                                          standing, so still, at a window pane)

and you can only look with something, morbid sadness,

for so long and I was literally,

wanting to write down how in only the past two days

I had seen such people in such hopeless disconnect


when I see ‘movement’, in the branches of the young

tree of thin lines and winter buds that is ‘manicured in’ concrete here on the sidewalk,


and at least five of the tiniest, christmas ornament little birds,

and I do not know your little birds, Seattle,

are pecking at the buds of new growth,

clung to the thin branches from literally all angles– and it is so ‘natural’ and of a ‘moving’ ‘activity’–

and are the color of this cold, cold, record-breaking rain that comes and goes through the streets where sit and slump the cold mendicants and where pass the ‘light, record-breaking passers-by’


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Filed under homeless, mendicants, poetry, Seattle

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