Poetic Inspiration on Main Street

Kelley and I have season tickets to Little Rock’s Repertory Theater, known as The Rep. We feel so urban – and yes, a bit smug – when it’s time to go to the theater. Unlike the other patrons who have driven into downtown and searched for a parking space before the show, we’ve simply walked out the Lafayette’s 6th street side door. A half block later and we’re at the Rep’s front doors.

Wednesday evening we saw Shakespeare’s King Henry V performed by a very talented cast.  I’m a fan of the Bard from way back. I’ve read many of his plays, but watching them being performed is another thing altogether. I’ll admit, though, and I mentioned it to Kelley that night, that I prefer Shakespeare’s poetry over his plays.

As we left the Rep, instead of taking the direct route home, I suggested we walk home via the block of Main Street behind the Lafayette. It’s the west side of the 500 block of Main Street whose four buildings have recently been purchased for restoration and redevelopment.  I’ve written about the project already and I assure you I’ll be writing about it as things progress.

But, let’s get back to our night-time block walk.

We peeped into the former department stores’ dusty and recently-uncovered windows. We could see evidence inside of the environmental stabilization work already underway.

We approached the corner of Capitol and Main where the Baker’s Shoes display windows are – where the bucket list on Main’s chalkboards were. Turns out the space is still attracting written expression.

Despite the darkness, out of the corner of my eye I spotted graffiti on a display window near the former store’s entrance.  I had just been in this space a few days ago; the writing was new.  At first we thought it must be the typical graffiti we often see downtown, but upon closer inspection, this is what we found. A poem.

Poetry in an unexpected place

This is the poem just as it was written there:

Thinking of a master plan
Cos aint nothing but sweat
Inside my hand
So I start my mission
Leave my residence
Thinkin how could I get
Some dead presidents
I need money
I used to be a stickup kid
So I think of all the devious
Things I did
 I used to roll up
This is a hold up
Aint nothing funny
Stop smiling
Be still don’t nothing
Move but the money
So I dig into my pocket
All my money spent
So I dig deeper
But still comin up
With lint
But now Ive learned
Cos I’m riteous
I feel great
So maybe I might
Search for a 9 to 5
If I strive then
Maybe
I stay alive

As we stood there reading it, we were dumbstruck.

The first thing was that it was poetry and not graffiti – quite a surprise. More likely the words were intended to be song lyrics, or at least that’s my guess. But who was the writer? Would they be successful in finding their 9 to 5? Do they have the determination and encouragement to reach that goal and change their life?

It was a gift to find such a thing in our downtown block. I didn’t have my camera with me then, but the next morning I snapped some shots before going to work. I haven’t been back today to see if the words have survived or if they’ve been removed.

Just like Little Rock’s downtown, the writer is seeking a master plan. The bucket list on Main is gone, but the desire to write dreams on that corner remains. I think William Shakespeare would approve.