Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Until I Had to Sing

Seems you hugged this corner
for years, bedraggled head dipped
over your guitar, a beat-up job you hugged,
a child. Your sweet soulful song filled

my ears, made my fingers thump
frets on my thigh, a beat contrary to
your tapping feet. Your eyes twitched to
the slung open case, nervous-like,
to slim bills tumbled in coffee-stained velvet.

Every few songs you scooped the coins
into jean pockets, a swift, measured stroke.

I perched on the stone wall nursing
my smoke, watching other passersby
toss a quarter, or not. Later, at home,

I pulled out my Fender, unplugged and
strummed, thinking of you, notes spinning,
where you slept after your gig.

Never threw a buck your way.
Not once all those years.

Didn’t know the sweet sound of coins
thudding in a can, not until
I had to sing for my bed.


Prompt: Until _____

Not sure where this idea came from.

Peace, Linda


  1. Where I lived in London there were a lot of buskers on the streets. I used to love them. They brightened up my day and cheered me with great music. The coins I occasionally threw their way wasn't at all relative to how much joy they gave me.

    Your poem made me think about THEIR joy. Thanks.


  2. I LOVED this. Stories about forgotten people are my favourites, those characters in the background, behind the main players. It's nice to see them get their due. You brought the end around so swiftly the impact was enormous.

    Hats off to you (no need to put coins in there).

  3. I love it. Linda, your poetry is always so vivid and moving. I love that this one is almost like a story, or a letter. It felt so real.

    I was thinking about this the other day - I just really feel that you have grown as a poet so much over the last few years and it is wonderful to see. If you do an MFA program, maybe you should look into one that allows you to cross disciplines instead of putting you on one definite track of fiction or whatever.

    Keep 'em coming. It's lovely to read all of these!

  4. That last line is the clincher. Beautiful write. I really enjoyed Rumi's Lament. I swear I can taste your poetry.

  5. Ah thank you kind souls. Busker. I was trying to grasp that word when I wrote this, and it eluded me - thanks Jai!

    Laurita and Jodi -- this poem emerged almost effortlessly; funny how the ones I work less at evoke the most reaction. Thank you for your kind words.

    Chrys, you are so funny. I AM looking into writing programs and a piece of me is considering going the poetry track. I love the conciseness of the genre, and the layers woven among the words, the ability of the words to be literal and non at the same time. Thank you. Smooch.

    Peace, Linda