Seamas Meets Lisa

August 3, 2013

It seemed as if nobody understood Seamas. A travelling beat poet, he set up shop in all corners of the States with nowhere to call home. “He must be homeless!” “He doesn’t think like us.”  “He must be mad!” they would say. Seamas listened to the wind and the birds and the people, occasionally jotting down kind words to put in a poem. He slept in streets owned by local houseless teens and was often kicked around by their cruel loyalty to private property….after all, these were their streets. But Seamas managed to get by spitting words at men in suits who would drop a dime, quarter – sometimes a dollar! – into his hat. It’s a pity to be misunderstood, he thought.

It was a summer afternoon and Seamas wandered around the small but busy Washington Square Park. He had just arrived in New York City off a bus from Virginia with six dollars in his pocket and a pack of rolled cigarettes, looking for college kids with trust funds (he needed the cash, after all.) There were an exceptional amount of students and tourists this day as the sun beat down on dead grass and fountain water spit from tall spouts. Seamas walked over to a woman reading The Sirens of Titan and dressed in a long green muumuu. He had been unsure of her interest in poetry but having neared her noticed a handmade hemp necklace and thought she would like to hear his words after all. Standing in front of her now, he made a deep coughing noise to rouse her from a half-sleep, and she looked up at him with big blue eyes. “Hi, I’m a travelling beat poet selling copies of my newest book. I would like to recite you a poem.” She agreed and he was surprised by her enthusiasm at the dark language coming from his lips. Afterwards, she stood up and clapped. “How about a drink?” she asked. They walked to the liquor store for a bottle of wine and sat under a tree in the shade.

Jazz bands were a common find in the park, and Seamas danced with Lisa in the grass. They took off their shoes and ran in circles around trees, stopping only to drink wine from Styrofoam cups given to them by a nearby ice cream truck. “Where are you from?” she asked, and so he went on to tell her about his unconventional life. “I’m from California, currently living everywhere. I’ve got friends in Boston, Philly, Vermont, you name it!” “So you live nowhere?” she asked. Seamas knew that Lisa didn’t quite understand him, but her acceptance took him by surprise and made him feel warm. “I like your smile,” he said.

That day they took Manhattan by storm. Lisa from Staten Island and Seamas from nowhere and everywhere skipped down Broadway, Astor Place, St. Mark’s – the entire village! With red wine-stained lips they laughed at passersby. Seamas occasionally read his poetry to a willing listener and made enough money for a pack of cigarettes. “Where will you go tonight?” Lisa asked. “I’m heading back to Boston if I make enough money for the bus. Buddy of mine has a room to offer me for a few days.” “When will I see you again?” “I don’t know.” It was getting late and Seamas had to find the cash to make his way north.

When the sun was long gone Seamas found himself alone again. What a day, he thought, and what a girl! On his way to the bus he passed a million strangers, but not one of them wore a hemp necklace. He sang happy words to shallow suits and made just enough money to board the packed and tired bus.  The trip was long but Seamas didn’t notice. He was dreaming of dancing in Washington Square Park.


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