IX. Headhouse Square

March of '82 for Antoine Archer:
He was getting his meals like a poacher,
Setting his bait traps on some stranger's land,
Dancing to music by some other band;
His one paying gig was a puppet show
Squatted next to the South Street traffic flow,
Out in front of a Wawa or drug store:
Disinterested shops likely ignore
A money pitch running on their sidewalk,
Pulling in dollars regular as clocks;
Working hard on his rock and roll revue
Featuring characters tested and new,
Marionettes near 18-inches tall,
Musician puppets working best of all.

How reasonable to ask the question,
Why is Antoine's a life of invention?
Earning his bread entertaining on streets,
The viscious cycle of hat, hand, mouth, eat!
Meaning, here was a kid from a good home
With beaucoup brains and no illnesses known:
What was up with his cavalier manner
Under the "Live Fringe Performance" banner?
Antoine's verbal skills tested higher
Than Shaggy on a Radio Flyer,
One would suppose there was another tack
Than this for taking home the Scooby snacks.
Never he, society's remainder,
Had wanted to be an entertainer.

"I have skills and attributes of a man
Developed to be so fine as they can;
I can accurately read and express
My native tongue, George Washington's English
I am generous, can carry a song;
My right foot is exactly one-foot long.
Education in the humanities:
Tell me you have employment for these."
"We have managers and counters of beans;
No one gets paid to know what those jobs mean.
The qualities you mention sound just fine
But promotion isn't really my line
The value I know is earning money
All the rest is a damn cacophony."

We don't know value except in money,
So don't wonder the water tastes funny.
We send our kids to school to learn Shakespeare,
History, science, math, yet it is clear
Very few can make a living on these
We have no use for human expertise
Unless one's a performer in the arts;
For whole personhood we don't give a fart.
To sell human values and ideas
Write a script or be politic; whereas,
For being straightforward and of a piece
We pay lip service and not often. These
Times demand care not to generalize,
And likely it's better to specialize.

Saturday near Headhouse Square and Second
Antoine's obeying as showbiz beckons;
New Frank Zappa puppet soon he will try
In the meantime, one's doing "Goldeneye,"
"We Don't Need Another Hero," maybe
It's hard to be accurate and lazy,
One of those resonant soundtrack ballads
Or anthems or whatever you call it
By one of the baddest women in rock,
Who always blasted, with or without Ike,
The caricature of the puppet there
Featuring both big legs and big hair,
Getting a big reaction. He says, "Thanks!
Coming next the guitar genius of Frank."

Alexander Calder's Circus is the most beloved puppet show with a Philadelphia origin. Below, marionette caricatures by Lee Zimmerman, the renowned puppeteer who began presenting his rock and roll revue on the sidewalks of Philadelphia in the early 80s.