Doken Doreys parents were killed in a car accident when he was 2 years old. He went from foster home to foster home, none of which displayed a great deal interest in him or compassion to him.
Doken was an extremely intelligent boy with a great love of reading and writing poetry. He had pages and pages of his own that he took with him to each new home. When he was 8 years old, one set of foster parents bought him a banjo for Xmas. He practised it relentlessly and had the instrument mastered in no time.
One day at school, when he was 12 years old, the students in his class had to recite a piece of poetry. Doken was the only one to recite his own work. The teacher held him back after class and asked about his poetry. They wanted him to take an IQ test. Doken took the test and scored 152. He was a genius.
His teachers knew that Doken was a bright boy as he excelled in all classes. It was in English, however, that he really shone. His high school teacher noticed it straight away. She knew that she had a genius on her hands. His poetry was second to none ass were his interpretations of it after reading a piece. He had no reservations but wasn’t over-confident with it.
When he reached college, a whole new world opened up for Doken. It felt more like ‘his’ world. Freedom of speech, opinion and thought abounded. He took all English based subjects with the exception of British History. He continued to devour book after book. He was rather disappointed with English Literature as they focused on the well-known writers. Shelley, Keats, Lord Byron, Bacon and Shakespeare. He had a great dislike of Shakespeare as he plagiarised much of his work. Doken had read so much of his work that he knew what was genuine and what wasn’t….and to Dokens mind, Shakespeares work wasn’t that good.
As Dokens opinions flew in the face of mainstream, he was often a good starting point for group discussions. He opened peoples minds up and wasn’t adverse to opinions that conflicted with his own. He found it stimulating and only served to fuel his love of literature. People would get up and recite their own work. Doken found most of it shallow but this didn’t stop him from the occasional positive contribution. If Doken interpreted another students work, this was viewed by the class as a higher accolade than receiving a positive remark from any teacher. The teachers knew that he was brighter than they so they let him run with it. He completed college with straight A+s.
Now that he was 18, he was no longer in foster care. He was on his own. Doken quickly formulated a plan. He wanted to go to university but couldn’t afford to. Not yet. What resources did he have that could make him some money? His banjo. He could busk. His poetry. He could recite it on the streets. He knew that it would take a while but he had his heart set on university.
Doken went to his last foster parents house, packed his rucksack with one change of clothes and a pen and paper and grabbed his banjo. On his way out the door he said to his foster parents, “I’ll be seeing you then.” They never responded, let alone come to wave him goodbye. Doken wasn’t fussed.
He hitch-hiked for four days, stopping in at little villages and playing his banjo for money. He figured these places wouldn’t be interested in poetry. He made enough money to afford one decent meal a day. This would become the norm.
After four days he reached the outskirts of Chicago on nightfall.”This is for me,” he thought as he gazed at the city lights. That night he slept under a bush. The following morning, he hitch-hiked into the centre of the city. He found a busy street corner, laid his hat down and began to busk. After four hours his hands were sore so he stopped playing. He counted his money. He had made $20. Doken was ecstatic. He figured that he could save $10 and feed himself with the remainder. He went to open a bank account. Luckily he was greeted by a sympathetic teller. Normally you need 3 pieces of ID. Doken only had one. His college Diploma.
Doken spent the rest of the day looking for a suitable place to sleep. He found an alleyway with a blazing barrel surrounded by hobbos. It was known as Beacon Way. Doken cautiously approached them. “Any room for me?” he shyly asked. One of the hobbos said, “We’ve got room for anybody….as long as they’re peaceful.” Doken stood next to the barrel as the night air was beginning to become chilly. With his good nature, Doken struck up conversations with most of the hobbos. When they found out that he was a poet, they asked to hear some of his work. They clapped after every piece. Doken was surprised when some of them gave a critique of his work. It turned out that this alleyway was renowned for academics who had hit hard times. There were alcoholics, heroin addicts, speed freaks, crack heads and some who were just given a raw deal. Doken asked if he could sleep in the alleyway. One coloured man, obviously drunk, said, “If you can find a mattress, it’s yours my friend.” Doken found a mattress and settled down for the night.,
For the next 2 years Doken busked and recited poetry on the streets of Chicago. He wasn’t far off having enough money to enroll in university. By this stage his clothes were tatty, his hair was a mess and he had a beard. He really did look like a hobbo. I guess he was, really.
One day after reciting poetry he walked past a small restaurant. It had a sign that read, ‘Open Mic. 24/7.’ Doken thought that he’d go in for a listen. He found the last small round table in there. At the far end of the venue was a small platform with a microphone on it. People were allowed one spot of 5 minutes. After about 30 minutes a pretty girl came and sat next to Doken. “Hi. I’m Ann,” she said. Doken introduced himself. Ann said, “What do you think of what you’ve heard?” In a straightforward voice Doken said, “I don’t.” Ann said, “It’s pretty ordinary, huh?” Doken said, “It is….so why do you come here?”Ann said, “It’s either here or those hoyty toyty gigs….and I’m not good enough to be invited.” Doken said, “Give me 4 years and I’ll get you into one.” Ann looked puzzled. Doken said, “Just trust me. You’ll see.”
Doken and Ann began to meet regularly until Ann suggested that they meet at her place. Doken said, “Thank God for that. Another day in there would have killed me. It was so amateurish.” He then asked if he could hear any of Anns work. She pulled out a large manila folder. Doken studied it intensely then said, “This is good. Really good.” Ann replied, “It should be. I have a PhD in English Literature.” Doken replied, “English Literature is the best of a bad lot.” Ann replied, “You’re not wrong there. It hasn’t landed me a job.”
Ann then asked Doken all about himself. Doken finished by saying that he had lived on the streets for a while and save to go to university the following year. “Good for you,” said Ann. “You’ve really lived a life.” Doken said, “I guess so.” Ann invited Doken to stay at her place, on the couch, until he moved into the university dormitory. He graciously accepted.
Doken was accepted into university and moved out of Anns into the dormitory. He would still visit Ann 2-3 times a week. He watched her writing go to strength to strength.
During lectures, students were asked to get ‘underneath’ a particular piece of a particular poet. Doken was constantly biting his lip to stop himself from laughing at some of the responses. They were miles off base. Inevitably the lecturer would ask Doken. Doken would get right to the core of a poem in seconds flat. “THAT!”….said the lecturers, “….is exactly what the poem is all about.”
As Doken still had very little money he still looked like a hobbo and his fanaticism saw him being viewed as a bit of an eccentric….which he was in a way. Doken and society didn’t exactly see eye to eye. Society was too uptight, regimented and constipated for his type. This didn’t stop fellow students from stopping him in the corridor and asking for his opinion on this poem or that poem.
He was also a standout to the lecturers and after receiving a PhD in English Literature he was invited to recite a poem at the university poetry night. He wrote back saying that he would on the grounds that his friend Ann could recite a piece of her work. A week later he received a letter with two invitations to speak. He turned up at Anns with a cheeky smirk then produced her invitation to speak. She threw her arms around him. “I told you I’d do it,” said Doken. Ann couldn’t thank him enough. The event was 2 weeks away. Doken hired a suit for the occasion and would accompany Ann.
Leading up to the event began to experience brief episodes of tightness in his chest and dizziness. He paid no attention.
When it came the night of the event, Doken and Ann mingled with the arty types. Doken couldn’t be bothered with them but he played the game. Ann presented her piece and like all the other speakers received a polite round of applause. Doken was the last speaker. His poem was met by a near riot. He awkwardly bowed and walked off stage. The stage manager signaled for him to go back on so he did and was again met with thunderous applause.
Doken now had his eye on publishing a poetry book. He could do it at the local library. In the meantime he went back to busking and reciting on the streets whilst sleeping in Beacon Way.
With his book progressing well, Doken began experience an increase in the severity and frequency of his chest tightness. He decided to see a Doctor. His Potassium was sky high, indicating kidney disease. Potassium also regulates the electrical impulses to the heart. The Doctor prescribed him Potassium reducing medication. Doken couldn’t afford it. He was a heart attack waiting to happen.
5 months later, Ann hadn’t seen Doken much. Knowing that he slept in Beacon Way she went there first to see if anybody had seen him. The alleyway was empty except for one person sleeping under a rug. She gently pulled the rug back. It was Doken. He was dead.He must have died of a heart attack in his sleep.
Ann went on and finished his poetry book on Dokens behalf. He was 26 years old.