Once in awhile, when I don’t spend time telling off hipsters who think they are fishmongers, or buy ice creams with French vanilla from Madagascar, or explore Swedish coffee culture, which doesn’t exist, or try on old clothes that due to their fossil-like, motheaten attitudes doubled in price, I wander around the streets of Brooklyn with no particular purpose. Usually these walks are uneventful — I spend most of the time pondering about my solitude, and observing the endless variety of species in the urban sea that all have their lives and dreams, which inhabit the city and makes it emit off a distinct tone. Sometimes, I catch a conversation by a shop or a traffic light, but most commonly, I just play the part as the flaneur, keeping myself in a state of quietness, a dreamy quietness, the type that wishes to be loud as hell.

Routinely, I do these walks alone, but recently, I started having co-strollers to keep me in company, and to toss and turn and flip every peculiarity we capture, or just our culture – one ever so generous of ridiculousness. The co-strollers make me feel better; they make me feel like I belong in social life; they plaster a part of the void of my usual loneliness.

The other day, I took Julia — my girlfriend, or what you might call it — for a walk. We promenaded from McGorlick Park up in Greenpoint, down Nassau Avenue that flows unnoticeably into Bedford Avenue, and we walked and talked, totally centered on filling up this picture of us as two strolling lovers. We got so absorbed in conversation that we didn’t pay the slightest attention to the outside world, not even the traffic with all its abrasive honking, its shouting and its cursing. For a moment, we felt like two asteroids floating confidently in space, completely detached from everything. This feeling was soon interrupted, and I had to step out of the picture frame, vacate from conversation and come back to Planet Earth, as something — or someone — caught my immediate interest. I peeked over Julia’s shoulder. On the corner of Bedford Avenue and North 6th street a man was sitting behind an appearingly improvised table. On top of it was an old typewriter. And, hanging from the table, was a sign that read: YOU CHOOSE A SUBJECT AND A PRICE, AND I’LL WRITE YOU A POEM. “Let’s check it out”, I suggested excitedly. We went over to talk to the man behind the table.

It turned out the camper-poet was a man named Maurice Flowers. He briefly told us about himself, and apparently, he sits around quite frequently in the area, writing poems for every soul interested. Sometimes he camps on Bedford and North 6th, sometimes on the corner of Berry Street and North 7th, and sometimes even in Brownsville, where he lives, although, as he put it, “traffic is slower there”.

He looked majestic behind his typewriter: a beautiful man, young and mahogany-colored, with ostentatious cheekbones, a well kept beard, and sincere eyes protected by a set of even more sincere, beamy glasses. Dressing like a hipster, it was impossible to tell whether he just wanted to look fashionable, or if he was genuinely poor. He talked slow, and appeared somewhat distant in a preoccupied way, as if he with an internal pincet was holding a thought that he just couldn’t allow to slip away. He told us he was writing in the streets to conquer general numbness, and to see “the sparkle in the kids’ eyes, when they see the prospect of a custom made poem”. And of course to make a living in a city that makes you pay “everything for nothing”, as he phrased it.

Due to his air of unavailability, I felt reluctant taking contact to him at first; it seemed to me that he was in a bubble of creativity that I felt would be immoral to burst. Then Julia poked my kidney with her elbow, and I started speaking to him. We settled upon a ten dollar poem about everythingness (I felt extraordinarily presumptuous in the moment, and I wanted to position myself on the same side as the poet, but it rebounded on him). He typed concentratedly, as Julia and I tried to become as close to nothingness as possible, so the poet could emancipate his thoughts on the paper.

When he had finished typing, he handed me the paper, without batting an eye. I shook his slender hand, thanked him for the talk and the poem, and we departed. We cruised a few blocks towards the water, hand in hand, then I turned to Julia: “it’s pretty wild the thought that you can sell your words like that”. I quickly counted the words of the poem, without reading them — 108. Julia, sharper than I on math, rapidly calculated, then announced that “that’s about 9.2 cents per word”. “That’s amazing”, I said, theatrically blinking and shooting up my eyebrows. “If you could sell your words at that rate”, Julia remarked, “you’d be as rich as the Walton family.”

All the way to the Williamsburg Bridge, I kept posting my wonderment over the lucrative business of word-selling in between conversation. Julia wanted to talk about something else. I knew that, but my mind was set on my new revelation, so I kept speaking about it, autistically. To shut up my rambling about this – in her view – insignificant subject, she stopped for awhile, clenched my hand, and looked with a new intensity into my eyes. We stood there for a bit. “I. Love. You,” she half-whispered. I gazed at her with an awkward objectivity, popping my chin forward in a suggestive way, and replied, almost in one word: “How much?”

This is Jonathan Hedegaard’s third appearance in The Match Factory (he published an essay, “On Top of Melancholy,” in the Fall 2016 issue).  He is a Danish writer and artist studying to attain his BFA at SVA. He has published and performed texts in both Denmark and the U.S.