He sits on the park bench,
staring down at his hands,
little wrinkles in his palm
unfolding tales of his life's worth...
And who is he, he asks to the buzzing moths near the lamp overhead,
the fading memories have been worn out by disuse.
And who am I? He asks this time to that welling sadness and forgetfulness inside,
to answer the question, we have to pan out and ask the world at large:
what say you hustle of streets, with trams and autos and after-shaved gentry?
He's a dark little man, with big eyes, the mind of a child,
and a naivete in the way he smiles without intent.
He probably doesn't wash behind his ears, or even clean his linens every week,
his kind have no sense of moral rectitude.
In the old brick tenements, huddle the hundreds and thousands of little children and wives and husbands,
insects multiplying, a burden on upper strata.
He is bred from such stock, a lineage crippled even in the prime of life's bounty.
So, we answer you, this man is worthy of contempt. Of tolerance if you've just emerged from church
or are afflicted by the romance of summer
but no more...
I've conveyed this message to the man on the evening breeze,
I spoke in the rustle of the leaves,
but the tears in his eyes tell me that he already knows
through the stares, and harsh words, and rebukes, and bitter loneliness that the company of crowds affords.
But our friend on the bench does not quit, he refuses to back down from the plate of life
he still has swing in his arms, a great desire to hear the cheering masses
calling his name out, to hear the world chant his deeds, to see his destiny writ large in the stars,
and so he asks those stars for a miracle, raises his voice again to that crazy silence
and begs for a fairer hue, better shoes, a sharper suit, simple things that can trap a man in the rewards of a better life, right?
And this wouldn't be much of a fable, if the next dawn didn't grant his wish
And he awoke from that bench, from underneath the pile of his life and the Times,
And looking down, lo, behold he was bedecked in what seemed like the garb of the regents of Europe
the royalty of Bengal, the Sheikhs and Pashas of Far-off lands
And he rushed to the fountain reflection and caressed his new pale visage
a mirage, he thought, of mere will?
Ah, but now gone were the looks of unvarnished distaste
the muttered abuses by passersby were replaced by vacant nonchalance
the violence of the world was stilled and the gales and storms of hatred
lulled to an oppressive quiet.
He was happy, he thought, ecstatic in those first few moments
he was no longer the Object of Ridicule,
the butt of the cosmic joke
he was Ordinary, sweet sweet word “Ordinary” that rollicked around gently on his tongue.
And so do we leave our man in his Pyrrhic victory?
No, this cannot be. The moral of this story is that we don't dream big enough.
So, verily, to that end we shall squelch his happiness with the forcible passing of some time.
Dragging the clock's hand forward till we find him sitting on that self-same park bench
Conversing wearily with the blue jays and complaining about his new lot,
for Ordinary carries the price of invisibility
where once people acknowledged his existence, a stunted, grotesque existence but
he occupied some space in the mortal world
now, he is as the air, transparent, insubstantial.
Sometimes it's better to despised than to not be seen at all.
He sits on the park bench, and stares at his palms.