Danny Smashed Again (poem)

Danny was a young drunk
Lived across the hall.... in '83
Then over the years
I saw him around
East Colfax
Gentle and sincere
Bottle in hand
Native American friends
A two-spirit nature
Said something about a husband
Right there.... by Paul's liquor store
Where I'd see Danny
Speaking softly
His beautiful eyes aged a bit... but
He was still Danny
The unworldly soul
Of Colfax corridor

Danny's voice and eyes had nothing....
But hope and happiness
Something regular and real about him
Then one night.... I was out walking
Near Paul's liquor store
The traffic on Colfax
Was stopped.... both ways
A semi-truck
Bearing the name.... King Soopers
Was stopped by the Grease Monkey
Policemen.... homicide investigator
Writing on a clip board
Looking down to the bent
Corpse of a man
Smashed like papyrus
On the Colfax pavement
In front of the Seven Eleven

Being a photographer
I could not not avoid.... taking pictures
From a distance
Just as I.... had always done
In the neighborhood
I had no idea.... who this man might be
With face covered.... on hard ground
Then I went home... lived in a warehouse
Across the street

Wanted to get my good camera
See it all from the roof
It was.... a somber scene
Time stopped... no traffic
On America's longest
Business thoroughfare
A crowd gathering below
Stands on a sidewalk
Behind the crushed man
Observing the detective
Their silent pity.... immortalized
On my film

Just as I came downstairs
Into the parking lot
A police cruiser
Infamous local detective
Fixes tickets.... for locally famous
Drunk news anchor
Assaulted me.... twisted my arm
Took my camera
Demanded to see.... reporter credentials
Told him I have.... no license
Called me a sick demented
Morbid Internet photo pervert

He twisted my arm up high
Opened up the camera
Placed it on the cop car
Put the film panel
Next to the bright spotlight
Destroyed the film
I feared for my safety
Not a witness in sight

The detective left
Female cop screamed at me
Like Auschwitz
I begged for mercy
She gave back my camera
Confiscated the film
The human photojournalism
Never saw it again
Went to police headquarters
They denied it existed

Three days after I photographed
The crushed man
I saw the obituary
My heart skipped a beat
It was Danny... the gentle soul
Who lived his life smashed
And died that way

Young Danny Morales
Crushed by an 18 wheeler
East Colfax Avenue, Denver
1998 October 10 Saturday
photo by Vincent B. Rain

The better photos, shot from the roof of Tien's Carpet (seen in photo above) showed expressions of pathos in a crowd that soon gathered Those important images were illegally light-burned and confiscated by police.

When I first met Danny in 1983, he lived in one of the two upstair apartments in a small house at 1424 Marion Street next to the old Wolcott School residences. I lived in the other. His death happened just three blocks away 15 years later.

written 2006 March 26 Sunday

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© Vincent B. Rain