The Non-Death of the Drunken Man on the Library Plaza

by on August 24, 2016 · 1 comment

in Culture, Economy, Homelessness, Ocean Beach, San Diego

Photo by h.koppdelaney By Micaela Porte

From a true event at the Pacific Beach Library
June 27, 2015, Saturday, 11 am

The drunken man, his home under the acacia tree on the library plaza,
Last night, laid himself down to die after a few bottles.

Next morning around 11,
Al, the guard, noticed him,
And called Christina the Librarian,
Who called 911 and more,
Ran to get the defibrillator.

The Man was on his side, all grey
His clothes were grey,
His face was grey,
Sirens filled the air on their urgent way.

The brave Librarian, cell phone to ear, for CPR,
Pulled at the dead man’s shirt with thumb and finger,
His inanimate body to roll over.
His chest was grey, strangely inflated, but with no movement.

<small><a style=”text-decoration: none;” title=”Image inserted by the ImageInject WordPress plugin” href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Photo</a> by <a href=”″ target=”_blank”>h.koppdelaney</a> <a title=”Attribution-NoDerivs License” href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”><img src=”” /></a></small>

Then in a rush of siren red,
The squads of police and firemen arrived, and one police woman,
They began to pump on his chest very much,
His whole body heaved with each strong push.

Some police interviewed us,
Some kept pumping on his chest
5 minutes, ten, and then
There was a pulse of life.
The dead man was revived.

Everyone was relieved
Everyone did their jobs,
They took the not-dead man away,
His face turning pink, not grey,
No death today
On the Library Plaza.


A poem,
and someone asked if I followed up on the homeless person, and I said, “No, I wrote this poem.”
And that man on the edge of death, and maybe there by now, or maybe on the road to recovery thanks to San Diego Services? on the library courtyard that morning, that moment of testimony on Saturday, in sunny San Diego, in Pacific Beach, awaiting poetry circle at the PB Library… well, all I can say is that death, or non-death, is the thing of poetry.
And the suffering that has forged our generations is too.
In the beginning was the word, and in the end too.
God bless that man, and you all too.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Micporte September 11, 2016 at 2:46 pm

Thank you for publishing this poem, this event affected us, , stander-bys, us, (me), the librarian (who told me that this poem was online) the guard, Al, we are friends now all, bonded, like a story from the shelves of history or some ephemeral writer. … Libraries were created for the have nots,…


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