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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Poet

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I walked the vibrant sidewalks of Haight and Ashbury. Loud noises and colorful individuals weaved their way in a sea of bodies. I made my way down the bustling avenue where sound—as well as smell—played part in this concoferic assault of the senses.

As I came to the next street corner, I saw the man. He was sitting—quite simply—at a small fold-up table with an ancient typewriter before him. His fingers touched the keys and metal arms flew to the paper, making that familiar clicking sound; the one I remembered so well from when I was a kid.

The sign sitting next to him read: Pick a subject & price then get a poem.

I was captivated.

My mind fell back to Goonies, a small knick knack oddity store, and felt somewhat disappointed by the prophecies of Zambini—the digital fortuneteller I’d spent a quarter on. You know, I’ve always wanted to have my palm read and my fortune told, only I could never bring myself to pay for them—especially since it mostly likely would be a sham. This prospect was far more promising. To hear the words of a live person, which would write about whatever subject I wanted?


I fished a few dollars from my pocket and extended these to the man at the typewriter. He took the bills and sized me up with deep eyes. “What’s your subject?” he asked in a light voice, sounding like the whisper of air though organ pipes.

“Adventures and daily living,” I said quietly.

The man drew a crisp, new sheet of paper from his backpack and slid it into the typewriter. He sat for a moment or two, then began to form thoughts and ideas onto the page before him. The rhythmic clicking of the keys was the indicator of his free-flowing thought.

I took a few photos as the muse recorded the final words that unfolded from beneath gloved fingers. The sheet was ceremoniously lifted from the carriage with a mechanical grating of the gearwork, and his chocolate eyes scanned the words he’d written.

He handed me the ashen page, the back of which felt rough, like raised Braille to a sightless man.

I folded the paper in half, tucked it into my pocket, and waited to read it.

To see mountains in mashed potatoes and canyons in curly fries… is an adventure indeed.

By the way, another photo or two of said man can be found HERE, as well as the absolutely lame Zambini prophecy.


diane rene said...

W A Y cool. I am seeking him out next time I head north.

Gerb said...

There is something in me that wishes I had his job. This post makes me want to find an old-school typewriter and take it camping.

Just SO said...

That really is pretty much awesome. And a couple of dollars well spent, I say.

Rachel said...

Well of course he's cool! Look at his fingerless mitts!!! :D

A Lark said...

Quite the experience to be a part of.

tiburon said...

That is fantastic! I want someone to write me a poem. Maybe next time I get to Cali...

Richard & Natalie said...

I don't know what's cooler, the fact he was able to come up with it off the top of his head or that he uses an old typewriter?
That was money well spent.

Dallas and Kirsten said...

Yeah it was pretty cool, although our poem was a bit on the sad side, but what else would we have gotten with "Loss and Redemption" as our subject!?

Teachinfourth said...

Diane - I highly recommend it.

Gerb - I know exactly what you're saying. I felt like doing the exact same thing but I don't know how much revenue one could generate in OUR town…

Shanna - I couldn't agree more.

Rachel - I almost too mine, but I thought to myself, 'Hey, this is going to be California…who needs gloves there?' Turns out, they would have been a welcome addition on the last two days.

Janelle - You said it, girl.

Tib - I'd write you one, but it probably wouldn't be the same…I'm not African American, nor do I have a typewriter. The feeling just wouldn't be with it.

Natalie - Both really added to the experience. Truly.

Kirsten - I loved some of the wording in yours, but it was a bit on the sad side. Looks like you'll just need to take another visit and hope that he's there again...

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