In October we were lucky enough to have Antonio Edwards, Jr. return to Tacoma for his spoken word performance of Speak No Evil. Homelessness is an ongoing problem here in the Pacific Northwest. Most of us don’t see it and so it grows. But, Antonio has dealt with those who have no home and sometimes no hope and he introduces us to the problem. In his presentation he cut through the nice October evening and left us cold . . .
These are the voices of the city.
The not so preferred voices that we hear.
You know the ones that we fear
That buzz around our ears like annoying flies.
Whose cries often go Ignored.
Their song carry no melody through the air, only stench.
We have come so dangerously close to accepting homelessness as a form plight to be swept out of sight forcing our humanity the inability to know what is wrong from what is right.
One such voice, full of grunts, mumbles and moans of disapproval screams to society’s deaf ear
Mr. Heany, a man who carried the weight of world on his six foot three inch frame, causing him to walk hunched over and downcast.
His hair probably once blond like Norway now dark and matted
A dwelling place for lice, leaves and discarded things.
Tobacco stained lips bordered by a mucus filled mustache and bearded face
Never wiped totally dry by his sleeves.
His gate, a distinctive shuffle commanded my peripheral to take notice yards away.
And as he approached me, the only thing I wanted to give to him was a wide berth
You see, by now Mr. Heany had lost control of his bodily functions in junction with his mental illness
This of course allowed me to justify my repulsed reaction toward him-
but would gain him favor with local merchants
Who he knew would feed him In exchange for his absence and their guilt.
It’s been said;If you want the hear God laugh, tell Him your plans
So I did; I told Him I would serve the less fortunate and make a difference
So enter, Mr Heany, barefoot!
Holding on to what little dignity he had left with one hand and keeping his tattered trousers from falling with the other.
His footprints made of feces the only matter he left behind
Once somebody’s son, brother or father, now no longer . . . a bother
Antonio Edwards, Jr.
2009 Poet Laureate of Tacoma