Holy Fool (Leonard from Pennard)

One sunny afternoon
in yellow sports shirt, pink hotpants
and night-time driving glasses,
transistor radio to his ear,
he trucked on down the street –
not gay but rather queer.

He was a one-off
who made us freaks look staid,
who spoke with candour
both refreshing and bizarre.
You’d assume that he was touched
but then most people are.

In an age when it had counted more,
he’d grown up on the edge of things
in that strait lace-curtained world
of tight-lipped prayers and bibles,
so he found a ready audience
amongst the rebel tribals.

I don’t know what diagnosis
a psychologist would give
to explain his odd behaviour,
but he seemed very comfortable
with how he was
and not at all unstable.

He could appear quite innocent,
or knowing, sly or wise.
His babbled incongruities –
more dormouse than Mad Hatter –
while sounding free of malice,
would often still the chatter.

The mynah, chicken-wired alone
into a corner of the park,
who ignored attempts to teach him
obscenities vulgar, coarse and choice,
echoed happy aphorisms
in our hero’s well-known voice.

And, one night after closing time,
we followed two loud drunks in suits
singing the usual beery hymns
as they staggered on their way.
“It’s not the drink, they’re willing it”
was all he deigned to say.