Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Without Wings


image from sfgate.com


Without Wings

“Angels are like diamonds. You can’t make one--you
have to find them.”--Anonymous.

His prosthetic lower leg stood by,
       its chrome bones bright in the morning light,
              as he perched like a failed potentate prince
                      on a soiled red cushion, its fat tassels tangled
              and dirty, there on the cold sidewalk, up
         against the stucco wall of Dan’s Deli. He had
a cute mutt with him, who sprawled out
on his own blue pillow,
wearing one of those
cursory cute red bandanas;             but this guy was different. He
                                                   was young & blond, with piercing
                                       Steve McQueen blue eyes that matched
                              his rumbled blue down jacket, that had a white
                      peace sign patch sewn over his heart. His donation
          cup was ceramic & attractive. His golden hair was unkempt
  but seemed clean. He had one of those Scandinavian thin blond
mustaches, & had shaved in the last few days;
hatless but far from worthless
or feckless.

He was probably in his 30’s,                He looked you right in the eyes
but he seemed younger,                      as you exited the Deli clutching
living on the streets, several                your cold-cut hero or sweet apple
green plastic yard bags holding           fritter, but his gaze was swathed
his worldly possessions.                      in calm kindness, without even a
                        hint of desperation, anger, or pitifulness.
                        He never spoke, yet his silence lacked
                        sadness, brimming with respectful and
                        polite vibes. His cup runneth over with
                        money, which he never looked at.

                                              He was probably a recent veteran, one of
                                   those handsome strapping young men that
                           that a gang of rotund Republicans had
                     sent to the Middle East to drive over
            a lethal IED in an unarmored Humvee,
       or maybe an addicted street urchin
who got high and fell under
a bus, or fell asleep or passed
out on some railroad tracks, or
had crashed a stolen motorcycle.
He held a rudimentary hand-drawn
sign that read:                 
                                        In need of a treat
                                        this Halloween!
                                        Anything helps!
                                        Dog bless you--

with a paw print replacing
the O in Dog. He caught my
eye after I read it. We both
smiled at the same time.
I gave him five bucks.

It has always tickled me that God spelled backward is Dog.
This strange young man’s cleverness & demeanor touched
me deeply. I returned there after work, but he was gone. I
never saw him again. Somehow his absence, after experiencing
his presence, plagued me, haunted my dreams, invaded my
random thoughts. I had an inexplicable need to talk to him, to
hear his voice, to find out his story--but it seems that he will
always remain just an intriguing mystery.

Angels are among
us. I saw one begging
today by the Deli.


Glenn Buttkus


       

11 comments:

brudberg said...

I love how you described him, and somehow I feel that his character might have taken him off the street but maybe his absence should concern you. Just the fact that he was so different from the expected guy makes this an interesting read.

Walt Wojtanik said...

Outstanding piece and person, Glenn! This vignette is full bodied (send a leg) but stands strongly on its own!

Therisa's World said...

Feel like, I am standing, beside you, Glenn, as you describe this young man, and his canine companion, before the deli. In your vivid attention to the smallest details, is truly astounding, to the reader. Do hope, the fact, you never saw him, again, means, he has found a permanent place, to call home, and not, something tragic, has happened to him. Thank you, for sharing this.

Pleasant Street said...

I'm really touched. I feel I have met him now

De said...

Oh, Glenn. I absolutely LOVE this. I carry dog food samples in my car, because for some reasons the ones struggling alongside their furry loves touch me more than others. Sad, perhaps, but still true. I LOVE your ending.

lillianthehomepoet.wordpress.com said...

How many times do I write the same or similar reply to your words -- they draw me inside of them. I am with you, meeting, communing with this young man. The fine details, the depth of details is visceral. And the final haiku, yes.
You touched this young man also -- at least in your words here it seems, if this was a real encounter, that you did commune with him. Angels along the way indeed.

Grace said...

Very moving sketch Glenn ~ I have learned not to judge people begging in the streets, as we don't really know their challenges ~ I admire your kindness to him and his dog and who knows, he actually be an angel in disguise ~

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Such a vivid sketch! I too felt touched to the core after reading this poem.

Kim M. Russell said...

Your character is so clear to me, Glenn, I can almost reach out and touch him. Wonderful characterisation and a superb haiku to sum it up.

Kate Mia said...

Drifters oF God hOlders
of earth bringers of
smiles.. Livers
of rain and
sun and
dirt
full
toes..
sleepers on
ground.. WiLL
oF LiFe remembering
what it means to be
close to each other
and Earth of Nature..
sMiLes.. there IS A now
that i envied most everyone
in a nursing home.. and
on the corner
cardboard
sign walk..
as at least
they wanted
a life that i could
no longer feel.. need..
or want at all.. there are
many staving folks in the
world who live in cold
receptacles of
computer
booths..
oh the
sun oh
the sand
oh the breath..
oh the struggle
oh the lIfe when
it still comes at
a price of Free..
FeeLinG and SenSinG
iT
aLL
doGod..:)

vivinfrance said...

Glen, I love your poem, your subject and your sensitivity. Thank you for showing us this character.