Walking north on Valencia I heard the characteristic snap snap snap of an old manual typewriter’s hammers striking paper on the platen.
I was more than a bit curious about who might still use such a classic machine even before its operator called out to ask if I wanted to buy a poem. Still, it’d been a full day exploring The Mission with a fabulous host and the time for my flight home was nearing.
“A poem?” I asked, and before I could inquire what the poem might be about or demand to review samples of his previous work, this sales savvy poet asked my name and the purpose of my visit and started hammering away on the faded blue portable Remington.
His name is Zach Houston, and in addition to running the Poem Store on various street corners around San Francisco, he also just opened a show in a gallery on the other side of The Mission.
But if he’s running a store, if this was a commercial transaction, I wanted a receipt. Into the typewriter went the remaindered piece of the shipping labels that he uses as a canvas for his work and in several more snaps he tapped out a suitable bill of sale.