Last week, I walked out of our Public Library's Main Branch and ended up locking eyes with a person squating on the sidewalk. Heavyset, caucasian, puffy-faced, his moustache covering his lips, his clothes were soiled and worn out. He had two small bags to accompany him and a ragged shawl covered his shoulders. Still looking into his smiling eyes, as I was about to pass him, he asked me if I wanted to hear a poem. Surprised, I stopped, nodded reluctantly, and sat down facing him. And before reciting the poem, he told me it was called River.
Heroes are spawned
In the rapids
By the leaping salmon
I was stunned by the poety that tumbled forth. His words forced me to relax. I requested that he recite it once more. He was gracious enough to honor my request. I didn't have to twist his arm and he began telling me a bit about his life. Most important, at some point in his life he decided he wanted to be a poet and since then that's what he's done, surviving by busking. I wanted to kiss his feet but I couldn't bring myself to do it. He reminded me of the wandering bhagats and sufi poets of South Asia, like Kabir and Shah Husain and countless others. I wanted to give him some money but realized I had not a penny on me. I told him so. He was calm and said that's fine. I asked him his name and he said Danny McFarland. Goodluck, Danny!