Thursday, September 23, 2010
A Metro intervention
Dianna and I were taking a metro ride this weekend when we were privy to something pretty powerful. A large man entered the car and stood above a man who was seated. He then put his arms over the seas in front of him, effectively boxing the seated man in.
Then, he started shouting, bellowing at near top volume what seemed to be nonsensical words. First assumption: This man is schizophrenic.
Then, I started to notice that some of the words rhymed. Aha - it was a poem, albeit a very loud one. Second assumption: They are friends and he is just messing around.
As he continued his performance, I could start to put some of the words together, and realized, at last, that he was actually trying to stage an invention on the subway, possibly with a complete stranger, in verse. The poet had apparently recognized the symptoms of crack addiction in the seated man, and began to gave him the business. He sat down next to his audience and continued. His poem / rap was about desperation, loneliness, complete dependence and debauched selfishness. And the person he was singing to could only nod and sob. It was beautiful.
When he was done, he told the man that he wrote that poem just for him, and asked how long it had been since he had been clean. He asked how long it had been since he had prayed five times a day. He told him that he could do it, that he could break the cycle, that he could beat crack. I was seriously moved. We walked out of the station with the poet, who turned out to be a writer and distributor for Street Sense, DC's Homeless Newspaper. His name is David Harris, and he has a book. Wow.
Posted by Jonathan Rubin