The Boxing Man was a homeless man I walked by every night when I worked the 2nd shift in San Francisco. On my walk home I would pass by his corner of the sidewalk. He would find a niche and build his shelter for the night. It was always very impressive to me and I promised myself that the next time I walked by I would say something, but every night I trudged home. It was after 10pm typically and I was too jittery to reach out. So here is the poem I wrote in honor of that memory.
The boxing man was not a fighter
In fact, I never heard him speak,
He was a constant silent shadow,
The end to days in repeat.
Awaken, school, lunch, commute,
Work then return late at night
To see a silent man building a fortress
Out of cardboard by street lights
I was curious but to him I was
Also a silent shadow.
I was bent on getting home to sleep,
On hindsight it was shallow to think
That things would continue playing on repeat.
The cassette player clicked
Tape flipped from A to B.
Man found dead on lonely street
Lonely, accompanied by a white sheet
The moment I saw the ghost play dead
I knew it was the boxing man
Who every night built a cardboard castle
And every morning took it apart.
I never saw him building again,
And lonely stood his shopping cart,
One day that too was gone.
And even though he was one more,
There was no one to replace him.
[Image: “Free Range Shopping Carts : Making Shelter” protected by a Creative Commons license belonging to Kevin McShane]