So, we were navigating through the New York City asphalt jungle, having splintered into small groups for maximum exploration. China Town, Little India, SoHo, the Village. Re-grouping at our Washington Square rally point caused lunch to rise rapidly to the mission’s top priority.
Clayton and I opted for Peanut Butter and Co.*, the other three claimed pizza consumed in an out-of-the-way courtyard. Re-charged and ready to continue the urban safari of t-shirts, coffee mugs, quirky hats, and all-things New York, we pressed forward ignoring blistered feet, chaffed thighs, and June heat.
Somewhere in the midst of gritty urbana, taxi exhaust, and big city, we stumbled upon a Greenwich Village sidewalk oasis of culture.
Crumbled cardboard: New York Times Published Poet Has Poetry for Sale.
The finer print: A poem can be commissioned for $5.
“Are you the poet?”
“It is I,” he responded, straightening his posture to face his public with uncommon dignity for a man normally mistaken for a toothless vagrant.
His speech was surprisingly eloquent. His expression through poetry moving. I marveled at this discovery of culture amidst the concrete. People continued to pass hurriedly along the sidewalk highway, only briefly noting his humanity. Time suspended for me, and my spirit was opened to a beauty no other passersby could sense.
Often closing his eyes in thoughtful contemplation, words chosen slowly, the poet crafted the poem … for $5 …
Again the sidewalk highway swept us toward our next espresso; time began once more.
While adding cream and sugar, I wondered if the New York Times Published Poet had ever sold a poem before … or since.
*Peanut Butter and Co. (240 Sullivan St., at W. 3rd St., Greenwich Village). Clayton recommends the Peanut Butter & Banana Shake along with the P.B. Sampler of 8 different varieties. I suggest the Grilled P.B. & Banana with Bacon (Elvis Special).