A Sign of the Times

Day after day, he stacked the mail
catalogues, ads, all on the steps
in rain and sleet, and snow and hail.

So I sat by the window, waiting one day
caught him as he was walking away,
and queried him nicely. Why?

Why don’t you use the LETTERS slot
that’s right on the door, quite plain to see.
He stared and looked blankly at me.

“Well ma’am, I see the sign on your door
capital block letters, all in blue,
and that little slot thing too.

But I have no idea what LETTERS means
and the slot’s too narrow to ever fit
all this important stuff you get.”


“Excuse me ma’am,”
the young man said with a grin,
“That’s an important text coming in.”



Mish is hosting Poetics at dVerse today, the virtual pub for poets. She asks us to write a poem about signs. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Stop by and join in the fun! Photo in public domain.

49 thoughts on “A Sign of the Times

    • lillian June 20, 2017 / 4:23 pm

      I still ask for stationery for Christmas and do enjoy writing letters with a few old friends and some far-away relatives. But I fear letter writing will disappear with cursive handwriting — just like diagramming sentences and record players!


      • nosaintaugustine June 20, 2017 / 7:36 pm

        You’ll be pleased to hear that record players and records are enjoying a serious revival!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Grace June 20, 2017 / 3:03 pm

    Different interpretations, ha ~ I think no one writes letters anymore and every message is a text or message ~ Good sign Lillian ~

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 20, 2017 / 4:24 pm

      As I said to Björn, I still love writing letters and buying stationery, I’m told it’s becoming a lost art.


  2. kim881 June 20, 2017 / 3:29 pm

    Your poem made me smile, Lillian. I love receiving letters and often look out for the postman.I can imagine the day when postmen only deliver parcels and catalogues – it’ll be there sooner than we think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 20, 2017 / 4:26 pm

      Are we related somehow???😊. I also love writing letters and ask for stationery each Christmas.
      I was just commenting to my husband as we walked through a mall today…that’s where the Crane stationery store used to be. I loved going in there! And I still love real Christmas cards too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • kim881 June 21, 2017 / 1:56 pm

        My favourite shop when I was a child was a stationery shop. I was obsessed with paper and pens! It’s where I got my first troll with long orange hair to stick on the end of a pencil.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Glenn Buttkus June 20, 2017 / 3:55 pm

    These days, even email is going the way of snail mail. Of course junk mail & bills still arrive in envelopes, right? Sign of the times, indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 20, 2017 / 4:29 pm

      Yep — but as this young postman said, the slot’s too small for all those catalogs! Actually, we have a very small mailbox for our condominium — on a wall with all the cubby hole type mail boxes. Between Halloween and Christmas, it’s amazing how many catalogs and ads and flyers can get stuffed in there! And so many bills are handled electronically now! I still love writing letters!


  4. frankhubeny June 20, 2017 / 4:01 pm

    There aren’t any letters anymore. That slot might be too small.


    • lillian June 20, 2017 / 4:31 pm

      Sadly, you’re right. Letter writing is becoming a dead art. BUT I still love writing letters, and picking out stationery…showing my age😊


  5. sanaarizvi June 20, 2017 / 4:59 pm

    Oh how I adore this, Lillian!❤️ Its true that writing letters is turning out to become a lost art what with texting and messaging on social media nowadays.. sigh.. Beautifully penned.❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 20, 2017 / 9:33 pm

      Thank you, Sanaa. I still very much enjoy writing letters! I am one of so very few…..


  6. Laura Bloomsbury June 20, 2017 / 5:54 pm

    Slightly worrying that the post/mail person does not know the meaning of letters- enjoyed this modern tale as much as I like receiving missives

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 20, 2017 / 9:37 pm

      Yep — it’s a made-up character, the post person. But the reality is the same. Letters are becoming obsolete and the post office is mainly delivering catalogs, ads, fund request letters. Even bills are being handled electronically now. I still do enjoy writing letters to some of my old friends and far away relatives. We are in such an age of instant gratification….just think of those Victorian days with letters that took days and weeks to arrive…and that was the only communication mode. My daughter was a foreign exchange student close to 40 years ago — and all we had was letters that took forever to arrive in Germany and from there to us in Iowa. Skype didn’t exist…no social media…nothing but “real” telephone calls that were far too expensive. “Helicopter” parents were impossible to have because the technology wasn’t there. We are in a very different time…oh my. I sound like my parents when they were complaining about Elvis’ hip gyrations on the Ed Sullivan show!


      • Laura Bloomsbury June 21, 2017 / 5:54 am

        There was a London postman claiming wrongful dismissal because he was dyslexic and could not read the addresses clearly.

        I am social media phobic and mourn the good old days of telephone and letterboxes. Having spent childhood in boarding school age 5 on letters were my lifeline – I wrote every week from that age but now have few people to write to. As for the Victorians in 1889 London, mail was delivered 12 times a day!!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Adda June 20, 2017 / 5:58 pm

    I always love receiving your Christmas card and the special note/letter inside. I still have all of them. It makes me feel special which I am sure how others feel too when they receive theirs. I am terrible at sending cards and letters, as you know, yet I know the wonderful positive impact they can have on people. I am getting better at sending notes and cards. A text or email does not provide the same warm fuzzy feeling as a letter. I loved the poem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 20, 2017 / 9:41 pm

      Oh Adda, what a wonderful comment to read! Thank you so very much….you always were quite special…you know that, right? 🙂
      The thing I like about the letters I’ve saved over the years, and the Christmas cards shared at our Christmas Eve table between George, me and the kids, is the messages and the real handwriting. I have all those cards…including the ones with the kids’ printing from their early years in grade school and the sweet messages they wrote. I treasure the few things I’ve kept that have my mother’s and dad’s writing on them. 🙂
      Glad you enjoyed this poem. 🙂


  8. Victoria C. Slotto June 20, 2017 / 6:31 pm

    This is sad, makes me nostalgic. I wish things were different, real letters with SWAK. I suppose us old farts had our own acronyms, heh?

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 20, 2017 / 9:44 pm

      Hah! I’d forgotten about SWAK. Do you think kids today know what that means? 🙂

      I still have old valentines, letters and cards from my folks to each other; and from George to me; and the kids from when they were very young to now. Every once in a a while, I take them out and look at them. Trace my fingers across my folks’ writing. Handwriting is so personal in comparison to a text or email…..she says while she’s typing on her computer key board! 🙂


      • Victoria C. Slotto June 20, 2017 / 10:50 pm

        Precious memories. I have tons of letters…my mom saved everything. Haven’t begun to get through them. A big box of WWII letters…amazing.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. nosaintaugustine June 20, 2017 / 7:39 pm

    I guess you need to change the sign to “stuff” 🙂 Another one to add to the list, kids in America don’t recognize a teacup and saucer! What is better than writing or reading a letter while having a cup of tea? They are missing out.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lillian June 20, 2017 / 9:45 pm

      Oh I so agree with everything you’ve written. Are we old fuddy duddies???? It just seems that civility is disappearing as fast as the icebergs and ice shelf! 😦


  10. Bev June 20, 2017 / 8:48 pm

    Unfortunately, most of the mail we get here is junk mail. (I can’t imagine how many trees die for junk mail). I can’t remember the last time I got a letter, sad to say. I loved your poem, by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 20, 2017 / 9:47 pm

      I still exchange letters with a dear old friend….and with my sister-in-law. But they, sadly, are farther and farther between. We are all so busy — even when in rejuvenatement (never say retirement). I do refuse to text my dear old friend though…in fact we’ve made a pact to continue with letters rather than every succombing to flying thumbs! 🙂


  11. Candy June 20, 2017 / 8:52 pm

    I still watch for the mail to arrive – even though most of it usually goes right into the recycling bin. There is always hope that a letter might be delivered. I think I’ll write a letter to an old friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 20, 2017 / 9:49 pm

      Wouldn’t that be wonderful? If this poem inspired folks to pick up a pen and write a letter? I still write letters to some dear old friends and relatives who are far away. I so enjoy putting pen to paper. It does take time. And I understand that we live in a fast paced world that demand instant gratification….but somehow, writing a letter with a hot cup of coffee nearby is soothing to the soul. 🙂


  12. Mish June 20, 2017 / 9:07 pm

    It makes my mother so sad that no one sends her a card anymore. She is not online, so has been left behind in this digital world. Cursive writing is no longer taught in the schools in my area. Very sad. Loved your poem, Lil.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 20, 2017 / 9:51 pm

      Oooooh…..don’t get me started about the demise of cursive writing!!!! And I know exactly how your mother feels. I crave real cards with handwriting on them for my birthday, Christmas, mother’s day. And I always ask for stationery as a Christmas gift. I still do write letters and love to do so. Glad you enjoyed the poem….hmmmm….maybe a letter poem is in order for my next hosting of poetics?


      • Mish June 20, 2017 / 9:52 pm

        I think that sounds wonderful! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Janice June 20, 2017 / 9:10 pm

    A very pleasant read Lillian. A sign of the times indeed when the bulk of our mail is fliers and a young person has little experience with letters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 20, 2017 / 9:52 pm

      A very sad sign of the times….the genteel days of keeping love letters tied in a ribbon are long gone. What to young lovers do these days? Create a folder on their computer for their lover’s emails and texts? 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Sumana Roy June 20, 2017 / 11:02 pm

    The poem evokes sigh especially from people who love / loved letter writing. Doesn’t it feel rather strange that in our life time we are viewing a period of our time as a bygone era? Your wonderful poem reminds me of the essay: On Letter Writing by A.G. Gardiner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 21, 2017 / 12:30 am

      Thank you, Sumana. I will definitely have to look up that essay!


    • lillian June 22, 2017 / 10:07 am

      I’m thinking that’s a satirical “right?” Flying thumbs today, rheumatism tomorrow!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Charley June 22, 2017 / 1:18 pm

        Exactly so! Hold the rheumatism, ‘though.


  15. estella June 21, 2017 / 9:56 pm

    My kids are all learning cursive writing. And although they email instead of mail letters, they do hand-write their poems and stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 22, 2017 / 10:10 am

      Hurrah! They are learning a valuable skills! One of the things I always had my children do when they were young (and they are 41 and 42 now) was “write” thank you letters for birthday and Christmas gifts. Sometimes that “writing” was a scribble, then misspelled words, then more formal letters. My daughter has her children do the same…my son, not so much. I’ve also wondered if a bride ever received my gift as there was no thank you letter received. So keep it up, Estella….you are instilling a wonderfully humanistic trait in your children! And creativity too! 🙂


  16. Colin Lee June 22, 2017 / 12:32 pm

    I took my son to the museum recently, where he was only too fascinated by the telephone’s dial. I should imagine his younger siblings and cousins would soon be asking, “What are letters? You need to pay for a sticker to post your letter? And it takes half a week? And it may get lost? Why?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 22, 2017 / 12:43 pm

      Oh my…..yes, dial phones, vinyl records with big holes in the center (45s) that slipped over the “cylinder” of my record player and I lifted the “arm” to put the needle on the record….say what????
      GREAT comment, Colin.

      Liked by 1 person

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