Monday, February 04, 2013

Pandling, Sad and Sweet

Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch


The operator took pity and let him board without paying at Market
"Don't bother the other passengers."
He found his way to the back of the bus where I sat all alone
And he stank and he grimaced and twitched
He sat opposite me and said "How ya doin'?"
"Good," I said, "and you?"
"Good," and mumbled something about sleeping at the beach
And he stank and he grimaced and twitched
"Is this the Number 5?"
"I nodded," thanking Creator that my own boy was home in bed
This young man could have been my son
And he stank and he grimaced and twitched
I could have moved but he wanted companionship
That was all I had to offer
No food, no scarf, no money in my bag
And he stank and he grimaced and twitched
He reached out and touched my knee
He waved when I looked up from reading
I waved back at him
And he stank and he grimaced and twitched
I rang the bell and got off at 10th Avenue
He got off there too, 40 blocks from the beach
He is lost and so am I



No shoes
Shuffles toward me
Eyes rolling
Cadges a smoke
Hands dirtier than
Hands can possibly be
Startles at my lighter
As if I had slapped him
Wanders away
Cigarette unlit

A Blur


Nobody nearby was awake to see the neighborhood idiot standing bathrobed in his driveway gaping at the night.

The Sisters saw him.  Europa's Bull saw him.  Zeus saw him.  The Blind Hunter and Leda's Sons saw him there. 

Flags of cloud unfurled toward sunrise.  No more stars would fall.  He turned to the front door of his little house under the sky.

Just then a piece of Mr. Halley's wanderer rocketed into the sea of air overhead.  Ice dissolved in flame.

It made him smile to think that he would breathe it in and out someday along with the breath of Jesus and da Vinci and many another fool.



Woken from my heading-home dozing
Just outside of Orinda station
By a swarthy young man and a
Red, white and green accordion
His lady friend passing the cup
I smiled and slept again
Music moved up the train
Operator came on the P.A.
"Loud music and panhandling
(She pronounced it 'pandling')
Is not allowed on BART"
"But they're busking," thought I
"'Pandling' is not allowed on BART"
The melody was sad and sweet

Fellow Travelers


Perhaps we would live differently if
Instead of Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton
Our legal tender bore the faces of
That woman huddling under cardboard in
The doorway on Market St. yesterday
That addict shaking his way home from
The methadone clinic on the #31 bus today
That neighbor quietly digging through
The curbside recycling before dawn tomorrow

Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?

Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.

And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.

(Matthew 22: 17-21, King James Version)



I call him The Barker.  He stands most mornings at Market and Montgomery yapping incoherent monosyllables at passing traffic.  He approached me before dawn today while I waited for the #5 Fulton.

"Won't money ye?"
"Wall mounted see?"
"One more time?"

I stared at his swollen tongue, his snaggled teeth, his cracked lips.  I was trying to understand as he tried again.

"One monk easy?"
"This is October."
"Ahhh, Octove. Wuzza dade?"
"This is the fourteenth of October."
"Four teens. Sank you."

There but for the grace of God go you and I.

de Young daybreak

Today's LittleNip(s):


It made me a better man
To know I was not


Steeple top neon cross
God's radar round and round
Searching for the faintest
Echoes of forgiveness


For the pigeons, bread
Sister, sidewalk sleeper, starves
But the birds are fed


Hot water faucets
Make me a rich man wanting
For nothing at all


A song without words
Though it hurts when I hear you
Please sing it again


Our thanks to Robert Lee Haycock for today's poems and pix! About himself, Robert writes:
In 1956, I was born in Inglewood, California, delivered by the same GP, Dr. Fate, who delivered my Mom. I have Welsh ancestors on both Mom and Dad's sides and credit this curious race for my love of language, song and myth. I grew up in Santa Clara and San Jose when they were still part of "The Valley of Heart's Delight" rather than "The Silicon Valley." I studied Art at Santa Clara University, the oldest operating institution of higher learning in California. Since 1988 I have worked for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco where I am Principal Technician in the Exhibitions Department at the M.H. de Young Museum (established in 1894) and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor (dedicated in 1924.) Antioch, Gateway to the Delta, is where I have resided with my beloved family since 1994. For more, see