The poet had been on the streets for too many days. Street life is strange: it’s funny how being homeless isolates you from so many people and makes you repugnant and untouchable but out there on the streets you are never alone. Isolation you feel, yes, but no solace.

The poet was tired of street life but it’s a recession. Poets are, well, nobody knows what poets are but they are not marketable. So here he was on a sad Thursday and he was tired.

Some trees on the left offered relief from the heat, and he was obliged to rest with the loiterers. Boredom sat thick in the air. One man wanted to hear the poet’s story? God knows there’s nothing else to do… so who are you?

It’s etiquette up here, in the privileged world, to clean up your story before it’s told. Under the trees, sitting in the mud with the bleeding feet and the lice and the refuse, there is no need to sound auspicious.  The poet told his story of rejection and loss… a million others like it have been told before.

One hobo offered the advice of aggression: if you are wronged, cut them. Take this gun. It will help.

Another wanted to know if the poet had any connections to exploit. If you are poor, pull yourself up. It will help.

 
The others threw in whatever answers they themselves had turned to. Ignore these circumstances, nothing is really as bad as all that. Call on family, they’re supposed to be there for you. Fill yourself fully of lecherous pleasure. It will help.
The poet sat under the tree and didn’t respond. In the infuriating silence, the others wondered if he had forgotten them, or if he was too good for them, or if he was simply mad. His story fell silent and they simply despised him. After all, he wouldn’t help himself. One by one, they left the poet.

That night the poet slept under the tree and his dreams were bitter. On Friday, the sun never rose. Finding himself utterly alone, the poet began to tremble and to sweat. The time had come at last. His courage fled him, but he sang out from the tree. He climbed upon that tree and he sang a song of death. He sang a song of emptiness, betrayal, nakedness, and pain. He sang a song of rich men brought to hunger and poor men made full. He sang a song of bereavement, abuse, hunger, and curses. He sang a song that splintered the religious and scattered the imagination. He sang a song of death and it was strong.

Take my blood. It will help.
Take my pain. It will help.
Take my death. It will help.

Take myself. I will help.

The poet sang a song. It did not rise from earth. It plunged to hell.

 
Good Friday from Feinberg 1204
Annie Bolger
February 15, 2013
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