the saint of sharansky steps

there’s this homeless guy
they call him the saint of sharansky steps
and for years now he paces the same 100 square foot perimeter
like rilke’s panther
greeting people in a disarmingly tempered voice

“good morning sir”
“good afternoon madam”
“goodnight young lady”

day in day out week after week

you get the point

his appearance is otherworldly
some might say netherworldly;

barrel chested as a minotaur
weathered green leather jacket stretched like field tarp
over what appears to be 111 a dozen layers
of hooded sweatshirts
jaundiced ovine eyes that register your every move
unlaced work boots
silt grey skin peeking out
from under a hillock of dreadlocks
on top of which, precariously sits, a comically large, black watch cap
long since unburdened of its elasticity

and if all of this wasn’t oddball enough,
he carries around a small spiral notebook
in which he scribbles furiously
when he’s not cheerfully accosting an uncomfortable soul
who’s accidentally crossed the threshold of his insignificant domain

i’ve heard rumors strange ones;

he was once a journalist, excommunicated by his peers for engaging in unethical practices
he’s really a CIA agent working undercover surveillance
he’s a former political activist
he’s God

all this, however, does not explain what he could be writing in that crazy scratch pad of his

it’s a sphinxes riddle

one that i may someday muster the courage to solve

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