“You don’t have to look,” he says,
“Just listen.” And we do—
His melodies soothe like a balm, or thunder
Like the passage of a thousand stallions.
We are transported to the apex of joy
Or are buried in valleys of sorrow.
The music slips through the cracks
Of our disregard, a furtive, velvet-soled thief
Unlocking all the doors from the inside.
This is how we picture him,
In our warm and cozy homes—
A romantic hero of legend, a troubadour bold.
Not this disheveled wretch,
This slumping, loose-limbed pauper with one shoe
Carrying his life slowly, like a snail, on his back.
If you were to ask him, he would say
“My music is my mansion—
Seek me there if you must.
There are many rooms, and I do enjoy the company.”
Who was this man? (Who is he now?)
This gatekeeper of our morning commute—
What right does he have to be here,
Dragging a stick of horsehair across trembling strings
As if they were our hearts?
When he is gone and the music stops,
Tell me, who is homeless then?
Matthew Wanniski, Los Angeles, USA