Does anyone know the old man who shops at the Goodwill?
He’s always looking for bargains, buying high fashion labels at minimal prices. Taking pride in the fact that being well dressed does not have to mean spending a lot of money… finding treasures in other people’s discards.
Purchasing for the day when ‘perhaps’ the occasion arises when you need a big projector screen or that wireless, battery-less, without a converter or instructions third telephone. Planning for his future storing sizes and styles, utensils and thingamajigs for when he is too old to make his weekly visits to the store; too old to make a cassette tape disappear into his pocket with a slight of the hand; too old to take advantage of the Tuesday senior discounts.
Too old to have the eyesight that can spot that book, which was once on his shelf but, because of circumstances, has been missing for years. Too old to cart his treasures back home.
Has anyone looked into the hundred boxes which line his walls to learn from them about his life?
His boxes hold the documentation of his life as an artist. The boxes hold scraps of paper with clippings of articles from the past. Many boxes serve as a monolithic monument to his wife preserving her things protecting them from the passing of time. His boxes hold his clothing neatly separated according to season and size and some, the ones which are easier to put on or pull up are saved for a time when he is too old to dress easily.
The boxes of poetry hand written in reams of paper copied several times over to ensure the availability of a copy if the originals are lost.
He stores newspaper articles which talk about technology and space exploration and gene research, topics that for this old man with the brilliant mind have future implications on life… Copies of old clippings and pictures of his art work now crumbling in the yellowness of old paper soon to disappear forever as the originals did so long ago.
His collection of postcards; old seeds from exotic places; Polaroid negatives with artistic graffiti; magazines with interesting lettering and magazines with interesting articles; each in its own box labeled for posterity.
Has anyone noticed how precious the boxes are to him?
Has anyone ever asked why would it be so?
Does anyone know the brilliant expansive mind this man has? Has anyone sat at the feet of this Master Teacher to learn about ancient crafts, the history of the arts, and the creativity of man? He starts speaking again and makes me wish my ear had tape recorders implanted to preserve the knowledge and wisdom which comes out of his mouth….to preserve his words for when his voice is silenced and his brain’s molecules evaporate in thin air.
By chance, does anyone know what a gifted artist he is?
He was born to take his place among those who God both blessed and cursed with the all-consuming passion to create. Has anyone been at his side when the whirlwind of his creativity begins? He drives himself tirelessly for days focused on his work. Were you in deep slumber when he paced and thought and rethought and mentally gave birth to yet another creation?
Did anyone hold him when the nightmares brought back the visions of the destruction of his sculptures? Is anyone there to listen to him laboriously gasping for the next breath when mental anguish turns into physical pain?
How come you don’t know this about him?
Why isn’t he in those art history books that line the bookstore windows? Why aren’t there displays and articles and pages after pages revealing what it is this man has been placed on earth to do? Who decided for the world that his art should go undocumented unnoticed, unrecognized? What earthly power was so strong to marginalize him? God didn’t, He said “I have created you in My image, thou are an artist go and serve Me well. Create despite the destruction by the angry flood; despite the temptation of the devil; despite the agony and persecution; despite the presence of prejudice; despite the denial from your people; despite the nailing to the cross.”
Let me ask… Have you ever read any of his writings? Have you ever heard his words? The man with an accent that sometimes interferes with being understood has a message that challenges complicity. He speaks of the universal pain felt by the disenfranchised, the faceless people of society, the injustices, inequalities, and the politically incorrect corrected-ness. He is tough and minces no words in his sarcastic attack on the establishment.
As he used to paint the frames of his moving pictures so he paints with words the images of injustice. When did he become so prophetic? When did his analysis of his past become such a clear predictor of the future?
Do you really understand his message or do you squirm knowing that yours will not be a pleasant experience when he is shoving the truth down your throat to say, “Here, listen, this is what life for some, for too many is about.” His poetry knocks you off your middle class, well padded chair and forces you to swallow the bitter pill. Have you swallowed his bitter pill lately? Why are his works not published? Why is he not hailed as a social analyst, a trend analyzer? Why when he calls the university radio talk show there is no time for him or in lame excuses leave him and his message hanging on the telephone wire?
Excerpt from poem “Does Anyone Know This Man I am With?” by Anna Salamone. Salamone is a poet and also manages the career of her partner, Aldo Tambellini, for whom this poem/prose piece is dedicated.
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