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   t h e    p a n -c a k e    b u d d h a

--- J O S E   C H A V E S

Everyday in town we would see him
on the overpass, his thick cucumber lips,
screaming wings of red hair billowing

in the breeze, as he entertained a crowd above a river of traffic. As far we knew, he was not paid for any performances.

He represented no company or corporation. It was, I suppose, simply a way of living. Like the Tibetan monks who prostrate

themselves for hours each day, living on rice, water and prayer. Most people will not think it's faith, but even a self-

employed clown must have a God, a higher power which compels him by some inner fire, to share his world.

Why else dodge the convertibles of spoiled punks who swerve the curbside, trying to flatten the big yellow shoes that hangover

the sidewalk like hapless emissaries of comedy? Why else suffer daily threats, the middle fingers poised as primitive weapons? Once,

I saw him step into traffic to stop a Buick, turn around and pretend to pull it. Walking slowly, the car appeared to follow,

as if it were attached by an invisible rope. For one moment, just before the car honked, then cut around him like a dented fish,

he had made us believe--like children- he was the only one strong enough, to pull the dead weight of this world.

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