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Itinerant Poet

April 3, 2011


Itinerant Poet

He arrived early and signed the reading list.
Then sat comfortably in uncomfortable plastic chairs.
Familiar with the routine,
he would listen to the featured poet –
forming all the time, thoughts about his own writing. 

He wrote from heartache or tragedy,
of some uncertain event or desire,
his inner hopes,
those darkest fears –
feelings for which paper and pen were conceived.
He could hide himself in the words,
like a child in a wood’s thicket.
Though they all knew from his dew drop tears,
the quiver in his voice,
the emotional life center from which conceived. 

The words he kept in plastic sleeves purchased at Staples
so the edges of his life’s travails would not fray.
Others thought he ought once in awhile
change these glassine windows to his soul,
when the view was smudged from the caresses of finger tips. 

Once he may have thought more –
but after a lingering term,
he realized he wrote, but for himself.
People rarely asked him to come back – specifically.
Occasionally a novice high schooler
would come up to him afterwards
swept up in the emotion – not so much the words.
His style mimicked their high school writing
the unrequited love of the teenager
for the desk next door in English class. 

Most gave up after two or three times,
or two or three months at the most –
some wondered why they even thought to come and read –
For each though, their precious symphony of words
composed for heartstrings
accomplished its purpose –
emotions now settled and merged into life’s existence. 

But he –

he, never quit — 

When he died his tombstone should have read: 

“Here lies an Itinerant Poet.
He persevered.
His words comforted him.
He caressed them
as he slept the one last time.” 

His daughter took the plastic sleeves,
placed them by the headstone,
put a small stone upon them,
covered them with leaves. 

He as a bystander, would have written about her feelings.
Her touching sentimental acknowledgment
of these deep emotional companions – that spoke of him. 

He would have wished though,they had at least made copies.
If he knew, he would have preferred they saved them –
even if it was in a dusty attic where no one
would find them except the moving company.
He would have chosen that a cleaning man
be the one to throw them away. 

Now they belonged to the wind and the elements
    — as did he.

Ray Brown

Consider purchasing my book of poems, “I Have His Letters Still” – Poetry of Everyday Life ($11.95).  Available on Amazon at or purchase an autographed copy at

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