The other morning I picked up a hitchhiker and it turned out to be Walt Whitman. The beard should’ve been a dead giveaway, but I didn’t put it together at first. Most tramps wear beards like that, honestly: long, scraggly things all yellowed around the mouth with nicotine. You’d think it’d be easy to tell a poet from a bum, but it ain’t.
I was at a standstill on the Limehouse Bridge, the Stono River shimmering below. A few other vehicles were waiting to cross, but most folks had already evacuated. Walt Whitman was walking all lazy down the median, his grimy thumb stuck up in the air, looking pitifully into car windows as he passed. He had a battered guitar tied to his back with a piece of rope. When he got to my truck, he mashed his face against my window and just stayed there, leering at me until I finally surrendered and said, “Alright, come on then.”(More …)