A Poem For You, About a Bum
Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 02:12
On a Thursday night after dark, I was walking down the 16th Street Mall, when I heard the familiar clickity-clacking of a typewriter. My ears perked up; I’m a sucker for typewriters.
After some aimless wandering, I found the source: a guy named Ryan Ashley Knowles. He sat on the sidewalk in a dirty plaid shirt atop a makeshift stool, his portable typewriter and a large sign reading “a Poem for You” beside him.
Being a lover of poetry and typewriters, I approached him. “How does one get a poem?” I asked. He wryly replied, “You ask for one.” There was a pause. He stared at me, smile brimming under a thicket of uncombed beard. “I’ll take one, please,” I said.
With military-like precision he whipped out a shred of paper, loaded it into the typewriter’s ribbon, cranked it into place, put his fingers gingerly atop the keys, and looked up at me, “What would you like it to be about?”
I hadn’t anticipated such a question. I didn’t know—I just wanted a poem from this guy on his typewriter. “Surprise me,” I said.
He began typing. Each finger press registered like one of practiced impact, sharp and sure. He played the piano of letters, crafting an impromptu and one-of-a-kind ode for me, a stranger. He’d pause briefly at the end of each line, looking to his left for inspiration. He’d always find it.
After a few minutes, he handed me the poem: “a poem for a bum I saw.”
I read it. I loved it. I told him so. He thanked me, but told me to thank Delilah—she took on the bulk of the work. “Delilah?” I looked around. “The typewriter.” “Thank you, Delilah,” I smiled and departed.
At the bottom of the poem read a website, untouchedpoetry.com.
After visiting the website, I had even more appreciation for this strangely artistic and spontaneous man. His only care in the world seems to be spreading beauty and thought through his art; an art rooted in nostalgia and personal interaction. I can’t think of a better goal for a person.
The mere fact that creative expression has been legitimized as a streetside attraction makes me optimistic and as giddy as a guy could be.
Visit his website and order a poem. It can be about anything you want, and will be one-of-a-kind.