An Idea---and Possibly a Whole Busker--Is Born
After listening politely as I detailed my woes for some time, he noticed that I'd written cartoons on a napkin and, putting it together with my story of working at Hallmark, he said, "Why don't you just sell your poems on the subway?"
"I need a license,"I said. "I don't want to go to jail."
He pish-toshed with a wave. "You'll get a summons. And then you'll be able to pay for the license in a single day of work, and then you're good." He started leaning into his lecture, in an encouraging social worker's manner. "I'm serious. I work with these guys. A lot of them are addicts, and a musician can make about two hundred dollars a day. It's actually a really profitable gig."
I've been thinking about it ever since. Dress up like the eye-catching cowboy I am, write a few pages of subway-related light verse (four pages, say), make them pretty, photocopy them, and and BAM! I'm the subway Shel Silverstein, reading from my entire oeuvre (Songs from the Cubicle, Songs from the Dictionary, and maybe a Hallmark verse or two, any one of which is technically still the property of Hallmark but I'd like to see them stop me) and meanwhile hawking photocopied poems (each suitable for framing with a Shel Silverstein-style cartoon illustration) for a dollar a page, or three dollars for four pages. I may not pull in as much as a musician (who, after all, doesn't need anyone's full attention), but even seventy-five a day would make my rent in ten days.
It would be fun, it would play to my strengths (humor, charm, fearless talking to strangers), and it sure would be a more interesting way to spend the day than hunkered over a keyboad blinking back tears of frustration. I'm really, really, tempted. The only thing that has stopped me has been fear of prison. With that allayed by a professional, my last obstacle is knocked away. So today, while I take care of another secret mission (about which more later), I'll also be writing subway poems.
I mentioned this idea this morning to one of my roommates---the woman from Georgia (the country), with the most limited English---and she listened, smiled and said, optimistically, "That is not so crazy." Those words have been ringing confidently in my head ever since. "That is not so crazy." Amen, sister; amen!