Our Vendors 

“Selling StreetWise” – a poem by supporter Gary Margolis

Wed, Feb 15, 2012

Gary Margolis

Our Jeff stands on the corner
of Clark and Belmont every
morning the lights change, the white

stick walker counts down the seconds
until we can cross.
Our Jeff sells his paper so he isn’t

asking for something for nothing,
isn’t begging, expecting his regular
transients and regulars like us

to stop every day to say hello
with whatever change we have left,
whatever bills we have to

hand over. Jeff says we don’t have
to feel like we owe him anything
every time we walk by, every time

we forget to pick up something
we need at the store, something we can
do without. Some habits are hard

to break. Like waiting for the light
to change and not stepping into
the street because it appears

that cab is far enough away not
to reach here in time, not to make up
the distance between us before

it’s too late to step back onto
the sidewalk. Jeff doesn’t have to
say another vendor, cornering

the wind, called these streets
Dignity and Compassion, instead
of Belmont and Clark.

By Gary Margolis,
StreetWise Supporter

To read Jeff’s full profile, click here.

Gary Margolis Bio:

While visiting his daughter in Chicago, Gary Margolis met StreetWise Vendor Jeff Berg, who interacts with his daughter almost every day. After meeting Jeff, Margolis was inspired to write this poem.

Gary Margolis Ph.D, is Executive Director of College Mental Health Services Emeritus and Associate Professor of English and American Literatures (part-time) at Middlebury College. He was a Robert Frost and Arthur Vining Davis Fellow and has
taught at the University of Tennessee, Vermont and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences. His third book, Fire in the Orchard was nominated for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. His poem, The Interview was featured on National Public Radio’s The Story. Boston’s ABC Channel 5 interviewed him on the Middlebury campus reading his poem, Winning the Lunar Eclipse, after the 2004 World Series. His new book of poems, Below the Falls is a book that responds to the loss of Middlebury student Nicholas Garza, our country’s wars, and the search for things that sustain us. He is Cornwall, Vermont’s Town Poet. His daughter, Ariana, lives in Chicago and teaches third grade in the Chicago Public Schools. Her husband, Josh Moulton, is a Chicago artist.


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