Defying Sudden Destruction
I spotted Henry on the comer
by Charles Chaim Wax
so I joined him
then we both stood there waiting.
Henry’s pants were too long
and dragged on the ground, thus tattered
and his shirt was buttoned haphazardly.
He graduated from South Shore HS in ‘67
must have been there with me but we never met.
I asked if I could take his picture.
He asked if I was the man
who took the picture of Vinnie the Tongue.
I said I was the man
then told me Vinnie had passed.
Suddenly his white tongue shot out
asking if he could replace him
and be called Henry the Tongue
said it was OK by me
and began to take his picture
but he quickly put his shirt over his head
so I couldn’t photograph his face
finally informing him,
“You’ll never be called Henry the Tongue
if you don’t let me take your picture.”
The shirt stayed on. I clicked away
and after seven snaps gave him a dollar
which calmed him down.
Henry had last worked in ‘72
as a messenger but now subsisted
on the generosity of passers by
never having sought Welfare.
John Guth appeared staring at the headless lad.
“What’s wrong with Henry? ” he asked.
“Can’t take the pressure of life.”
“He think a shirt over his head’s gonna help.”
“John, ” I said somberly, “who knows.”