Pershing Square Hero

Walking in downtown L.A. last Saturday, I veered off Broadway to Hill, and into Pershing Square where I met this gentleman, a gentle man. I offered him the coffee I’d bought but decided I didn’t want because it’s impossible to walk and take pictures while holding a cup, and the pictures were more important to me. I asked if he’d be offended if I offered him my coffee. He smiled and said, “no, I’ll take your coffee”. He hopped off the cold stone bench, spry and full of youthful energy. He stretched up to his full height, which wasn’t much more than my 5’2″ and through the few teeth he had left, he shared a story, much of which I couldn’t understand, but didn’t need to because his face and his gestures told it all. I wrote this poem and dedicate it to him, my Pershing Square Hero.Pershing Square Hero (1)

Pershing Square Hero

He flexed his arm muscles,

his big guns, he was proud.

He stood tall, tall as any man

and he smiled. a toothless smile.

Born and bred for war.

He was a boxer again.

Rat a tat tat. tat tat

The backs of his hands

tapping out memories

on the cement wall.

Knuckles coating with concrete dust.

I cringed in pain for him.

“Ya see how I do that?”

“Here, lookie here!”

Rat a tat tat. tat tat.

Tapping out memories

on the ground,

palms up, palms down.

Born and bred for war.

~written by SueBee (photos by SueBee)





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Categories: In the City, Poetry


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6 Comments on “Pershing Square Hero”

  1. LindaG
    Apr 19, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    How nice of you to take the time and capture the true essence of this homeless man, by photography and poetry. I write poetry too and your poem reminds me of one I wrote called, Sometimes. Love your post… Really Nice! Thank you for sharing.

    • Apr 19, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

      Thank you for your kind words and sharing your thoughts with me. He was a really kind man who so badly wanted to share his story that I felt compelled to let others know about him. I used to write lots of poetry, but it’s only recently when some of my photos inspire me, that I put words to them. 🙂

  2. Apr 17, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

    What a wonderful face he has! And I love your poem. Thank you so much for capturing his demonstration! I have yet to actually do street photography, so I want to know … did you ask him if you could photograph him in action, or did you just go for it???

    • Apr 17, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

      Thank you! I’d previously done most street photography with telephoto lens, but have recently tried more close up, with a semi-personal contact. This man was so excited to share his story, I didn’t ask him anything other than the coffee question, and as he kept talking, I kept clicking. He was heartwarming. Others I did actually ask, and every single one was super receptive. I was with one other woman, so not alone, and didn’t feel unsafe. I am always very careful and aware of my surroundings, though, and the demeanor of the person. ~SueBee

      • Apr 18, 2014 at 6:30 am #

        Okay, I’m going to find some courage (you’d think I was facing police with pepper spray) and take photos of HUMANS! Yikes!

        On that topic, I wonder if you follow Otto von Munchow’s blog? He recently wrote an awesome post about street photography, and engaging the subject, and recommends a wide angle lens for this. It’s a great post —

      • Apr 18, 2014 at 6:45 am #

        Yes I do follow him, and yes I remember that post about the wide angle lens. He has great info on his blog! I’m still learning the camera I bought end of 2012, so I won’t venture to the new lens arena for awhile yet, but it’s something to think about. I know what you mean about courage taking people pics, though. It’s an entirely different thing, but you take such great pics, you’ll get some awesome ones!!

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