The Dr. Is In

in Poetry

Dr. Wes

Let's chuck grammar in the bin, why not? Speech parts of? Needs them who?!

And while we are thinking about that, we'll give a thought to writing a poem that expresses the thought we're thinking.

Whoa, wait a sec! We weren't thinking a thought, actually, we're we? Well, OK, let's think of something, and then color it, so to speak, with the sentiment previously touched upon (eeeww).

What I'm thinking about is the plight of Eastside Earl (not his real name). This is a guy you can see daytimes in the U District, even at the U itself, reading books. Say you see him reading a book, and you walk up to him, and you say, "Hi, what are you reading?". If he looks up and says "a book" and then goes back to his reading, it's a fairly good sign that it's him.

An even better indication would be no answer at all. Earl is at home with books but can barely relate to human society at all. That's why, although he's clearly mentally ill, he's never checked into the welfare system, because that would entail talking to people. That's also why every evening, instead of checking into a downtown shelter, Earl rides a bus to the Eastside. To a patch of not-yet-developed land not yet as crowded with homeless as Seattle's "jungle" and therefore not nearly as likely to be bulldozed, or even visited.

Of course like all people who "work" in Seattle while residing in Bellevue or Redmond or Kirkland or whatnot, Earl pays a price. Prior to June 1, Earl's price was $2.20 per day. He's been paying for that and his food and other expenses with money obtained from clearing the alleys and sidewalks of the U District of littered aluminum cans. But "rent" has gone up for Earl. Thirteen percent.

This poem is inspired by Earl, and I am sure that it is one that he would particularly despise.

Bus Burdened Eastside Earl
by © Dr. Wes Browning

Thank Earl's bent back no cans out back
blackberry ladens, they're laden less since him
His peace vines fruit quiet, daily
But busses burden Eastside Earl.
Oh, sure we all zone twice or twice again
-- Earl's got nothing we elsewise lack
Hell, Earl's got nothing.
But come June the first,
he'll be bus burdened Eastside Earl,
by thirteen percent the worst.

This being the 1998 Real Change Food Issue allow me to waste valuable space and time by discussing some of my own favorite culinary tips for the street-weary.

The last time we did this I got honorable mention for my limburger-burger suggestion. That was a utilitarian repast, designed less to be eaten than to seize territory. Whole parks could be claimed just by making one limburger-burger.

Here is another helpful hint from the Homeless Gourmet, and one that is not at all original to me: always, always carry a bottle of hot sauce with you to those soup kitchens. Earl carries one. You need one, too. You want to be able to eat the food without necessarily having to taste it. With sufficiently many repeated applications of this suggestion you might even spare yourself from having to taste anything ever again. This greatly simplifies cooking all around and makes coming up with new satisfying recipes a cinch.

Earl reminds me of one more way to improve an otherwise lack-luster meal. Everywhere you go you can find "empty" beer cans. This is even more true than ever thanks to the drive to eliminate 40-ouncers from the shelves of downtown stores.

Now a nice thing about aluminum, as opposed to glass, besides being worth more per pound, is that aluminum is opaque. As a consequence, upon close inspection you will discover that these cans almost never get completely emptied by their original owners. Their contents can be saved in a jar to provide an interesting and enjoyable addition to sauces and gravies and even soups.

I especially recommend stale beer & sardines. Add a half dozen shakes of hot sauce, a little bit of ketchup, and sop it up with bread. It's got your grains, your carbohydrates, your vegetables and your protein. And thank you Seattle for making it so much easier to round the ingredients up!

© Dr. Wes Browning:

2129 Second Ave., Seattle, WA 98121 (206) 441-3247

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