Mean Street

Don’t worry about me. Your shark isn’t getting any
smaller or slower. How long do you think he’ll circle
until he gets bored? Say it with your eyes, son, the words
mean little around here, everybody’s writing them down
in tiny script on any scraps of paper they can find. “Soon
there won’t be trees enough for all this verbiage,”
announces a local poet much loved by the government
but largely unread by the populace. They know nothing
of poetry, he comforts himself in thinking. They
wouldn’t know an anapest if it hit them between the
eyes. As it stands the bifocals shatter and leave him
groping in the street vulnerable to all the malice a city
can engender around a single weakness. No, don’t touch
him now, he’s had enough. They’ve even lifted his
watch unless he never wore one to begin with. Quiet
your thoughts for a moment. Not as easy as it seems.
First you have to live for a long time and you have to
suffer, needless to say. Everybody suffers, but you have
to be open to it, and when it comes you have to ride it
like a pony, get to know it, and then try to remember the
pain years later, which isn’t easy. The circumstances
show up like a brief silent film. The actors grimace and
carry on but without a soundtrack something is missing.
The pain seems less genuine, less earned. If you could
see the heart exposed and watch it pulse with anguish, or
explode as hearts will do, perhaps that would convince,
but hear one sigh from him, one gulp, and you’ll think,
“I don’t feel his pain, strictly speaking, but I feel its

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