Sunday, April 13, 2008

Stories of the City

Although I've slowly been cutting my caffeine intake, I'm still more addicted to the stuff than I should be. Unfortunately, I'm also out of coffee filters. In need of a coffee fix, I decided to wander down to Anna Bannanas on 21st, because they do this thing with espresso, dark chocolate syrup, and orange extract that's utterly, sinfully delicious.

Halfway there, I'm stopped by a gangly young man with Flock of Seagulls hair. He's got a painfully earnest expression, the sort I associate with border collies, and he carries a sheaf of photocopies in his hand. He tells me he's a wandering poet. The photocopies are his poems, he says, and in exchange for a small donation to his travel fund, he's giving signed copies of them to people. For when he gets famous.

He looks crestfallen when I tell him I don't have any cash on me. Maybe he could read me one for free? Feeling somewhat sorry for him, I acquiesce, and he shuffles through his photocopies until he comes to one about spring flowers and the smile of a particular girl, and, standing there on the sidewalk with people walking by, that black wing of hair falling into his eyes, he reads the poem aloud with the sort of shaky-voiced sincerity I'm normally a little embarrassed by, although for whatever reason I'm not embarrassed by it now. Maybe being with The Boy has softened my cynical little heart somewhat. It's not a very good poem, but it's clearly heartfelt, and I mean it when I thank him for reading it to me. He smiles happily and wishes me a good day, and we both go our respective ways: me, headed towards my coffee Nirvana; him, up the sidewalk with his photocopied poems.

Only in Portland.

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