Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York (Excerpt #37)


By Daniel Canada c.2010

(Excerpt #37)



BUZZARD is a complete conundrum. Ever see a nature show on television, and the camera pans slowly toward a buzzard, in the wild? You see the buzzard, perched precariously upon a tree branch, starring off at nothing, his neck doing that funny buzzard thing every so often. That's “Buzzard!”

O.k., his neck doesn't do that funny buzzard thing, but “Buzzard” sits around, perched on a park bench, starring off into nowhere and nothing. All day long.


It takes one a long time to master the Zen art of motionlessness and nothingness. This, the art of motionlessness and nothingness, to be sure, is quite an accomplishment, if you consider it. “Buzzard” is a master of the two.

You see what you can accomplish, if you only had the extra time on your hands?

If you frequent the right parks during the day, you can see “Buzzard” practicing his skill, sitting motionlessly and doing nothing at all, starring off into the vastness of the void forever.

I don't know, but perhaps he's had a prefrontal lobotomy already, and there's simply nothing there to work with, or even to bother contemplating. This fickle reasoning would've been the doom of me, if I didn't happen to stumble upon “Buzzard,” one day and catch him mob deep, reading several highly technical books.

This is how it went down.

I needed to get out of the cold one day and perhaps catch up on the latest publications available in the Seventeenth Street Barnes and Nobles. As I arrived upstairs, the busy milling throngs of shoppers parted to reveal the lone figure of “Buzzard.” There he was, sitting quietly at a table, with a scary looking stack of technical books in front of him. “Buzzard” could care a less about the world swarming around him. He was in his secret element.

So, Buzzard's a techy!


But, but, wait! There's more!

I also have to confess that I do spend a good deal of time in Starbucks, draining down dangerous levels of caffeine and plotting the takeover of the world, myself. Nevertheless, there I was entering into another Starbucks on Astor Place, in the Lower East-side. And Lo! And behold! There's “Buzzard,” sitting attentively at the table with several electronic gadgets before him.

There were Ipods and android cell phones, Blackberries, tablets and the like. A web of power cords crisscrossed the table in front of him, plugged into the power sockets, provided for customers with laptops or electronic equipment. Of course, once again, “Buzzard” didn't see me. He was busy doing his thing, safely ensconced in electronic heaven.

It was then that I had a terrible epiphany.

“Buzzard” wasn't an idiot after all. To the contrary, he might even be a silent genius. You can never tell what's going on inside the head of a quiet genius. For all I know, “Buzzard” could've been quietly working on the solution to the Grand Unification Theory, the holy grail of theoretical physics, or working on the solution to global warming, re-mapping the entire DNA, or unraveling the Kennedy murders.

How can you tell?

All those motionless hour spent starring off into nowhere, could have been Buzzard's way of falling deep into that brilliant mind of his, reaching far-off inside for the elusive answers to these perplexing, but important questions.

You got M.I.T. brains? Go to M.I.T.

Do something construction with your life, for God's sake! You might be the next Stephen Hawkings, or Gandhi, for all that matters. The world needs more of these types. However, if you have a serious drug problem and just lost your natural mind, after taking that last great hit off the crack pipe, public assistance isn't worth a dam, but they do offer a comprehensive Medicaid program. And guess what? They have competent doctors who can help you along with recovery from severe substance abuse, as well.

If I catch you homeless and out in the streets, sitting idly on a bench or milk crate, starring off into space, you better whip out some electronic equipment and make like you're “Buzzard.”

If not, well, not only are you just wasting your life, but I also will refuse to write a piece about you, in my memoirs.

How's that for size?

(To be continued...)