The Beat: True Stories From the Streets
9 Stories by Harry Martin Polis
Artwork by Jaynee Levy-Polis
Many years ago, I learned a
lesson. That lesson was re-affirmed when I started working for the
school district. I was not my job. I have been lots of things
over the years including a police officer, a store clerk, a soldier, and
a disciplinarian. When people try to classify me by what I do for
a living, I carefully separate myself from the jobs I have held.
If anything, I am a poet and a writer in my heart. I was a poet as
a young boy, and as the years flew by, I continued to write, even while
I earned a living at other jobs. Of course, each job added to my
experience with people and my insight into myself. These have been
experiences a poet and writer needs in order to relate his feelings and
ideas to other people. God gives us talents and poets (and all other
artists) surely are committed to a higher authority.
have a washing machine and a garbage disposal. Each is equipped with a
reset button that can be pushed when either appliance is overloaded or
out of sync. I need this kind of button for myself for times when
other people push my buttons and I react in negative crazy ways.
It sometimes doesn’t take much to upset me. Jaynee or Brian, or just
life’s little speed bumps can do it. Once the button is pushed, another
Harry can appear. He is a Harry I am not happy with, or proud of.
Most of the time, I am a people-pleaser. I am my brother’s keeper
and a caretaker for the people I care about. I sometimes do too much
and I get angry when I feel cheated out of something I feel is due me.
Mostly, I get angry at the lack of help in tackling some overwhelming project
I feel unfairly sits on my shoulders. Who put it there?
I did. I do not stand up for myself when I need to. I do not
know how to say, “No” or “That’s it!” or, like Popeye, “I can’t stands
no more!” I just brood and then burst out of myself; screaming and
hollering like a nut.