Yelling Corner Man

Oh, determined, well-spoken, loud and pungent man on the corner, you yell so well.

When you blurt out your word things so often throughout the day, I feel whole. Your throat, surely fortified with scar tissue by now, booms outward to the busy streets, muting traffic honks and screeches and people’s not-very-important-anyway conversations. Whether a phone to my cheek, or a headphone in my ear hole, or a conversational colleague beside me — you always find a place among the noise.

I swear, some days even the pigeons stop their bobbing and pecking to look up at your screaming face. It’s a blessing our pigeons don’t understand English. They would have dropped dead of audible orgasms too extreme for their birdly bodies long ago.

You are like a wandering minstrel from a fantasy. Though you don’t wander, and you don’t bother with pitch or tune, and you are real. When I exit the bus in the morning, you are there. When I leave my office in the evening, you are there. Lunch and coffee, there. The same corner, always there, always yelling. To not hear you would be to not hear birds chirping, or opera singing, though I could manage to live without those things.

Why the mayor himself could walk by talking of a grand opening of some such important park and it wouldn’t even phase you to stop and listen and consider! You would tear into the soundscape then as you always do and the world and the mayor would hear you, and he would give you the key to city, and a megaphone, and perhaps a new suit, and your voice would carry to the suburbs and make soccer moms and school boys stop and think and yearn for city life.

We could gather once a day for the first call from your chapped lips and it would unite us and guide us and give us a center to this meaningless space!

And the words — my goodness — your choice of words. You don’t worry yourself with fluff or coddling, you cut right to it. You swore off verbal fat and muscle long ago, only the organ meat nourishes you now. Like the great carpenter who makes toothpicks all his life, you too have chosen mastery in a single thing, a single phrase. No one else could say a phrase with such presence and force. You own it. If there was excellent-only phrase dictionary this phrase would be accompanied by your portrait and a sriracha-stained thumbprint from your weathered hand.

It is a magic phrase worthy of repeating a thousand times a day for as long as your heart can bear it:

“Fabric sale! Fabrics!”

I shook, just now, as I wrote it. It made me remember this morning when I left the bus and saw you in a pool of light, swatting a fly from your neck with immigrant grandmothers nearby, hands cupped to their ears, unaware of how lucky they truly were.