On Street Musicians

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Here and there along my city travels
I see musicians playing on the street,
offering their sounds
for whoever cares to listen.

There are guitar-playing singers
walking from subway car to car,
an accordionist at grand central,
the bucket drummer at 49th,
the kora bard,
and a child playing Beethoven loops
while his father looks on.

The sounds of these musicians
join the mix of ambient noise,
of moving people around them,
offering answers
as if we potential listeners
had questions.

Captive on the train, I listen.
Walking by on the street, I listen.
And as I listen I assess and consider.

No matter its particulars–a cover song, an improv, a riff or a ballad–
a musical performance always beckons,
always reaches out for our attention.
Musics speak in different idioms,
saying different things.
One–“I’m filled with heartbreak,”
another–“I’m filled with sunshine,”
one–“I hope you find this cool,”
another–“They said I was talented.”

As I assess and consider I notice
how few others have stopped.
The music could use a better place, a more suitable time,
less environmental competition.
But now it has all it needs:
an audience of a least one,
here and there, paying attention.

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