Blind keyboard player in

Washington/Lake pedway,

Small McDonald’s French fry and

empty Fillet of Fish wrapper,

chews silently, sits on milk crates,

keyboard on white plastic bucket,

his table

and the rush hour shufflers

thicken past him,

gladdened by the predictability

of his presence,

exposed by his vulnerable meal.

Minutely uncomfortable,

shaken by tonight’s silence,

they continue down the pedway,

preferring the usual echo

of this man’s hanken blues,

the slams of loose change

in his bucket, to the soft crinkle

the fry bag makes

as worn fingers fish through

pinching dinner.

The expressions of those who

brush by show

the question flashing through

their chests:

Do we give him money for this?

But surely only when he’s playing!

Brian Janisse (May ‘17)

remembers, “Living in Chicago, there were many people asking for money. If the Spirit moved me to bless anyone with my spare change, it was usually the street musicians. I went by this fellow every day, and one evening he was eating instead of singing. The whole scene felt strange with no music.”

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