Often in life, we don't take the chance to tell someone they affected our lives in some way. It's sad, but true. I would like to take this opportunity to submit this tribute to someone whose poetry inspires me and whose wisdom and kindness to others is a testament to the kind of person he is...
He strolled into our small town that day
a hat shading his face from the sun
little did I guess, as a child of ten,
through him, my life had just begun.
He was a stranger, dusty from travel
his boots were little more than soles
he carried a bulging pack on his shoulder
wore a gray shirt and jeans with holes
He came to our little run down motel
and rented a room for a week
I passed him on the way to school
he nodded, but didnít speak.
I saw him sitting under the walnut tree
next to Jim, the mechanicís shop
I stared at him as he wrote on a pad
he looked up but didnít stop
My mom asked him to supper one night
he wore clean clothes, was freshly shaved
I watched his every movement
wanting to see how he behaved.
He said he spends his life on the road
no job, no home, no family
working at odd jobs just to exist
living his life totally free.
Later, I watched him as I did homework,
an essay for English class,
The stranger glanced at me once or twice
over the rim of his drinking glass.
He asked if he could read my work
and I handed it to him with dread
and when he finished, he smiled at me;
he told me he liked what he had read.
He told me he was a traveling poet
roaming the country trying to find
inspiration for his soul and
stimulation for his mind.
I asked to hear some of his work
though I thought all poetry was dull
but when he spoke I was lifted up
as I listened to his chronicle.
He recited to me, almost til dawn
words creating a world that was real
his intricate rhyming took me away
my heart opened up, my head began to reel.
Soldiers and knights, maidens fair and foul
were paraded before me that night
his voice soothed my childish heart
his stories set my restless soul alight.
Each night he stayed, we sat together
he regaled me with poems of every kind
fascinated, I sat transfixed
at the words that came from his mind.
One day I awoke to find he had gone
a farewell note stuck under my door
like any performer, the drifter knew
to leave his audience wanting more.
He told me to always remember him
to find joy in the written word
to be happy, and kind and always
remember the stories that I heard.
Since then I have a love for words
for poetry with and without rhyme
I hear them in the drifterís voice
remembered in that far off time.
To this day, I treasure the gift of poetry
as I write, Iíll always hold it dear
and I often reread that wonderful note
signed, poetically, the Balladeer.