Character Study

Elderly woman, invisible to passersby.
Lover of lines, grammarian of old,
cast off indirect object.
Homeless: predicate adjective.

Drawstring wale-worn bag  clutched in lap
holds one ruler, three pencil stubs,
and one frayed hankie from genteel days.
Diagram her a lost soul,

sitting on birdshit encrusted bench
invisible to passersby.

mf3LZgc

Shared with dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Bar opens at 3 PM Boston time.
It’s open link night so stop on by and share some words!

47 thoughts on “Character Study

  1. Jane Dougherty June 1, 2017 / 3:28 pm

    Another sad poem about aging. Your invisible school teacher, fund of knowledge and rule-maker is disappearing from sight, and nobody cares. So sad!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 1, 2017 / 3:55 pm

      Yes — it is the “old ways” that are disappearing: diagramming sentences, teaching cursive writing. Now there is even an app that will do your algebra problems and show you the work (teachers want to see how you arrived at the answers — which used to be the safeguard not to just “get the answer.” Did you know that when you do research with Google, it brings up different materials for different people? Has “figured out” who you are and delivers accordingly. Gone are the old green Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature where everyone turned the same pages and saw the same resources. Okay — off my soap box! This woman is a result of modern times in many ways — not just aging. 🙁

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jane Dougherty June 1, 2017 / 4:00 pm

        It’s the idea that Google has replaced transmitted knowledge that I find saddening, that people who ‘know stuff’ may as well keep quiet because it’s Google the kids will turn to for the answers, not a fallible flesh and blood person—as if it isn’t people who provide Google with the ‘facts’.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lillian June 1, 2017 / 4:01 pm

        Oh…very good point!

        Like

  2. kim881 June 1, 2017 / 3:38 pm

    I agree with Jane – another sad poem about getting old. That disappearing teacher could be me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 1, 2017 / 3:49 pm

      This is really more a statement, from my perspective, on the demise of diagramming sentences — the “old” methods of teaching — have now made this person an indirect object herself. I still cannot believe many schools have abandoned teaching cursive writing as well. Yes — this type of teacher has been placed “out to pasture” so to speak. She is homeless in many ways.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. whippetwisdom June 1, 2017 / 3:48 pm

    A very sad poem and I love the detail of ‘one frayed hankie from genteel days’, the days when hankies were not disposable but washed, ironed and cared for too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gospel Isosceles June 1, 2017 / 4:01 pm

    Kim said it too, that she could be any of us. Humans, that is, as many of our passions and our life’s work are replaced by technological “advances.” May we always cherish one another and that which gets us out of bed or bench everyday.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bodhirose June 1, 2017 / 4:31 pm

    I remember learning to diagram sentences and certainly learning cursive. I can’t believe that cursive writing is being phased out of teaching. What’s important these days is teaching children to pass tests so the schools can get better funding. Your “genteel” homeless woman is especially sad because she’s elderly too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 2, 2017 / 6:31 am

      I agree with all you’ve said. I do think there are many many good teachers. The idea of teaching for testing though has really, in my personal opinion, gotten out of hand and take up a lot of time. Oh my — I remember when my folks complained about the “new generation” and the “new math” way back then. And the cycle moves to my generation! 🙂

      Like

    • lillian June 2, 2017 / 6:32 am

      I do think there are far too many invisibles in this world.

      Like

  6. Grace June 1, 2017 / 4:55 pm

    Invisible indeed ~ I feel sad for those old genteel days & the disciplines of learning ~ This line stood out for me Lillian :
    Diagram her a lost soul

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 2, 2017 / 6:32 am

      Thank you, Grace. Yes that line was the circle back to her grammarian ways….when you diagram a sentence there are lines for indirect objects, predicate adjectives, etc.

      Like

  7. Bev June 1, 2017 / 4:56 pm

    Being an elderly lover of lines and inveterate grammarian, I tend to identify with your words! The end of cursive writing annoys me no end, and that Google gives different answers to different folks just simply leaves me a-splutter, and I refuse to sit on the birdshit bench and be invisible … at least yet I do! Great write, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 2, 2017 / 6:33 am

      Here’s to finding clean park benches and doing yoga in parks and buying stationery to write letters on! 🙂

      Like

    • lillian June 2, 2017 / 6:34 am

      Oh I hope not, Alison. Here’s to finding the clean benches in the park! 🙂 And here’s to assisting the invisibles in this world.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Adda June 1, 2017 / 5:21 pm

    Interesting expression of your passion Lill. I wasn’t able to fully comprehend your poem until i read the above comments. Your passion is clear and well said. I feel sad for the “old woman” and I feel sad that students are not learning basic skills in school. I am not sure of our peoples direction but it seems the boat is very rocky right now (or if “peoples” in this sentence is used correctly).

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 2, 2017 / 6:39 am

      Think you’re referring to the comment made in the string here….that when you google something, what appears in the list is “tailor made” and different for people/folks. That’s because the computer or something out there in cyber space “gets to know you” and your preferences. So the “research” done with google, if we use it for that, is not “objective” in the way teachers would hope children/students would find their information If that makes sense? Yes — indirect object has double meanings here, one being a line segment when you diagram a sentence (as is a predicate adjective; subject; verb; etc) and the other being an invisible homeless person. That method of teaching is long gone and sadly, in my opinion, is cursive writing. So the poem actually has some layers of meaning here. The “old woman” is a sad character indeed — as are the many invisibles of the world.

      Like

      • Adda June 2, 2017 / 12:23 pm

        🙂

        Like

    • lillian June 2, 2017 / 6:39 am

      It’s been interesting to read the comments on this one. Thank you for your words here. Really appreciated.

      Like

  9. nosaintaugustine June 1, 2017 / 6:35 pm

    I enjoyed the overarching metaphor of this poem, though I wouldn’t wish to diagram a sentence ever again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 2, 2017 / 6:40 am

      It’s interesting….I used to LOVE diagramming sentences. I also like geometry much more than algebra. My dad was a draftsman and he had the best block printing….lots of straight lines and rulers in my life 🙂

      Like

  10. sanaarizvi June 1, 2017 / 7:00 pm

    To be invisible like this must be the most tragic part of aging…

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 2, 2017 / 6:41 am

      For many, yes. I’m just now reading a book entitled The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window…………really. It’s a very interesting book!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. mother wintermoon June 1, 2017 / 8:37 pm

    Oh yes, invisibility. A state of being I know well. Thank you for the acknowledgment and awareness, in a very well expressed and powerful poem.

    Like

    • lillian June 2, 2017 / 6:43 am

      I see you……..every time you share your words. And I truly appreciate your presence. Thank you for your response.

      Like

  12. shubhodeeproy June 2, 2017 / 4:54 am

    This is touching. How beautifully written. Almost pierces the heart and goes straight into. The play of words is terrific. And the subject is something that requires very close observation. Awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 2, 2017 / 6:44 am

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. Glad you enjoyed the play on words!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. scotthastiepoet June 2, 2017 / 8:43 am

    So sorry, unexpected visitors last night have made me rather late in responding to your piece. This a beautifully rendered, carefully observed with the perfect delicate ending. Sumptous writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 8, 2017 / 10:32 am

      Thank you….and my apology in reply — just back from 5 days of taking care of grandkids and finally getting to reading replies and other posts! Life happens 🙂

      Like

  14. Misky June 2, 2017 / 9:16 am

    Clever this: “Homeless: predicate adjective.” Nice bit of writing, Lillian.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 8, 2017 / 10:32 am

      Thank you! I so remember diagramming sentences! I used to enjoy it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Ω June 2, 2017 / 11:18 am

    This is so good!

    My favorite part is “Lover of lines” … as it pertains to writing and her face … perhaps even drugs, if I allow myself to imagine her as a cocaine addict. But something tells me you would not like that very much. 🙂

    “Homeless: predicate adjective.” … I love this. Grammar is its own drug, really. And so few know how to use it.

    Gorgeous lines:
    “Drawstring wale-worn bag clutched in lap” (that extra space is perfect to control the reading)
    “one frayed hankie from genteel days”

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 8, 2017 / 10:34 am

      Glad you enjoyed this one……and you’re right. I prefer to think of her as succombed to poverty and homelessness — a career succombed to modernity….not to drugs. But that’s the thing about writing…once it’s on the page (or the blog), its interpretation becomes the purview of the reader! 🙂

      Like

  16. lynn__ June 2, 2017 / 2:17 pm

    An “invisible” woman…pass me a frayed hankie, please!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 8, 2017 / 10:35 am

      Indeed. Invisible people………invisible civility…….too much invisibility these days!

      Like

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