Busker #1 That Guy Who Sings “Down by the Old Mill Stream”


He’s always been like this:

a flapping, broken doll whose

hapless failures haunted the dreams

of his school teachers.


The kid caught out with a funny lunch —

No socks — an ill-written note

from his mother explaining a laughable haircut.

Holes in the knees of his pants.


Right now he is singing, I guess you’d say:

Though his hands, croocked in front of him,

swing too swiftly for the rhythm and it looks

like he’s trying to swim.


His voice is perfect: a tinny lost item

dusted off a thousand times

whining through a horn —

a needle scratches somehow behind it..


When he was a boy, women turned

away from him as now they turn

away from him, and children always

laughed at him as now they do too.


He’s always been like this: Al Jolsen

in a jar, a puppet with snipped strings:

out of joint like cracked nut cracker,

out of time like a yellowed wall calendar.


Moments ago he was bent over double,

face to knees, arms swinging in limp circles

over his round rubber chucks.

Warming up — apparently.


When he was born he kept curled

like a caterpillar ‘round a stick:

so you’d have thought he was desperate to

find a solid core and grow around it.


An hour ago he sat at the counter of Mike’s

and he ordered eggs and toast and coffee

and he payed and he left. And, for a tip, he’d dropped

a postage stamp with a red string sticking to it.


(c) 2010 Catherine Weaver All rights reserved.