Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Strange Man

I met a strange man in Arts Lecture Room 8.
He frightened me at first glance.
He had the look of a wild dog backed against a wall.
I swallowed hard when he sat next to me.

He wore a long-sleeve collared shirt that might have started life as white,
But had long since been stained yellow like the teeth of a pack-a-day man.
The shirt had a print that looked as though it had gone
Out of fashion in approximately 1971.

On top of the shirt, he wore a shabby brown vest, woolly and dirty.
Brown pants with no belt.
Tattered shoes clinging desperately to their own remains.
Dark hair, unkempt. Dark eyes.

Unshaven. A slight odour.
The general look of a man who had spent the last ten years
Grifting his way through the mid-West.
A time-traveller from the Depression-era.

He sat next to me; I kept my head down, kept reading.
He muttered to himself incessantly. He made me nervous.
He asked what I was reading: Calvino, for Post-Modernism.
He said: “I loved it. Did that unit. Did pretty well. Wait til Murakami though.”

He asked about my summer.
I said it was good fun, but that (as usual) I’d got to a point
Where I was itching to get back to doing something real.
He said he didn’t have a job over summer, so he’d had a great time.

After the lecture, he got up and walked away;
With the posture of a bald eagle, rigid, unyielding,
But the fluid movement of a dancer,
The jittery spasms of a junkie,
The imbalance of a drunk.
He was gone.

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