He must have been so embarrassed up there,
half-naked, visibly wounded,
that horrible ring on his head. I didn’t know him well,
but I used to see him on the corner,
telling his stories, maybe doing a trick or two.
He never wanted money like so many others.
I think that’s what scared them.
He would have hated all this staring,
the laughing and crying both. This public
humiliation was not his style
of flash. I only ever heard two stories
of his making a spectacle.
Once, he kicked over a table
to shake up those greedy bastards at the savings and loan.
The other time, he waved his hands
over the head of a small girl
and made a clean, bright note come from her mouth.
He continued to gesture, like some lunatic,
coaxing from her a song that shook the temples,
too big for mere earth.
That time, he allowed himself a little bow. I think
his father was pissed off. And then, yesterday,
the sobbing to Dad--I’ll not speak of it again.
It was not his choice to shock. He’d rather
we heard some echo of that song and remembered
what one blessed child of God could do.