‘Two Ruminations On A Homeless Brother’ by David Means

Two Ruminations On A Homeless Brother by David Means, 2017

The magic trick:

Stitching a story together out of two separate sections

M is for Means.

This story delivers exactly what it promises in the title. It’s an interesting approach. The first selection presents a detached – if eloquently philosophical – view of a homeless man. The second selection deals with a man (maybe the same one?) as an actual human being with a name and a biography. The selections interact in a way that make the portrait larger than the sum of its parts. And that’s quite a trick on Means’s part.

The selection:

The way he roots through the garbage cans in the winter snow and in the summer heat with an admirable persistence serves as a touchstone, fuelled by the concept of mental illness afloat over the land, even, say, for the less educated observers who just see him and think, Fucking crazy old homeless bastard hanging in there, still going, still doing his thing. The phrase “mental illness” shrouds his body as he walks, and orients him, slips him like a peg into whatever dreamy ideas of madness fill the minds of those passing and pushes away the thought that he is, in a way, say, a reflection of some part of themselves that might, someday, under the right circumstances—a financial loss leading to ruin, say, or some neurological disorder, an improper linking of nerves, or a shady haze of undetected tumor, or some sharp trauma abrupt enough to throw off their general balance—irrevocably force them into the same circumstances, wandering day after day, sticking to the same general pattern, stopping to dig in the public trash can for discarded bottles or scraps of food or newspapers to read.


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