Tuesday, March 27, 2012

OpenLinkNight: Strolling through Pleasantville

image by Kat Mortensen©2012


do we
     live in color or black & white?

unlike classics in the hands of Ted Turner
it's a choice and honestly
     i like the detail of the second
unless of course, this is a metaphor

then i'd rather shadow & shade,
       where dark & light mix
in a living colour slow dance,
as there is seldom two sides
    & to jump is no option
if you read the signs

(& i so want to sing Five Man Electrical Band
          here, but)

we're walking, this boy & i
across the bridge between downtown & Percivel's Island
a railway converted to walking path, passage
over the James, & pass a soiled, discarded
teddy bear, a matted lump of discolored hair,
           some kid dropped or---

we pay it
    no mind, as we walk on & talk, life &
as we make our way back, an hour later, a girl
    barefoot on the old railroad ties
worn with dirt herself, in a faded Goodwill sun dress
           stares out along the water
hugging the bear

the last of the day glints the tears in her eyes
& behind her the lights of the city
    give way to night,
          pale in comparison---

♪ signs, signs, everywhere there's signs...
do this don't do that
            can't you read the signs ♪

OpenLinkNight @ dVerse Poets - a warm place where verse flows in abundance...and you don't ♪need a membership card to get inside♪...just come join us, write something poetic and come on in. Doors will open at 3 pm EST and this week the lovely Tashtoo is tending, so do stop in.

The image at the top is by Kat Mortensen, who is my poet mama (smiles) and the one responsible for me even writing poetry. All because she left a comment challenging me to do so a couple years back. The original notes for this piece were shared in the comments at Real Toads last weekend.

119 comments:

the walking man said...

We can read, the question is why do you ignore what you read. Answer is it's not my problem.

Chantel said...

One must look deeper than the casual glance....a skill unpracticed by most.

I Loved the end, "and behind her..."

oceangirl said...

There is a tinge of Dr Suess as I read it and I like it. I am parentless with poetry but dVerse certainly is where the voice found its place.

Claudia said...

ok..i admit..the image with the girl, hugging her teddy bear moved me to tears..just because there are things, however ugly and discarded they seem, that are so valuable to someone and sometimes the only thing they have to hold on to...and this i call love..and heck yes..how pale become the "bright" things in comparison..

Laurie Kolp said...

This really is one of my favorites of yours (how many times have I said that?). You have such a way of bringing things to life, Brian.

the last of the day glints the tears in her eyes
& behind her the lights of the city
give way to night,
pale in comparison---

... I do have to wonder about the lump of discolored hair, which could be a poem in and of itself (hint, hint).

Daniel said...

Yeah, I get this one.

Tracey from ⓽ said...

As always, Brian, I loved it. I truly enjoy visiting here and often wish you could write a poem to my images because I think some of them deserve the words only you could write.

DJan said...

Very powerful images, especially the little girl with the teddy bear, no longer discarded.

janaki nagaraj said...

A moving poem...we see what we want to see...sometimes color, sometimes black and white, and the signs they are everywhere, only we have to see.

Lorraine said...

Anything that glitters has my vote, wether colour or black and white

Ann said...

the colour looks fantastic sometime i just dont see anything worth taking my camera out then i see a photo like this
Ann

Manicddaily said...

Hi Brian, very interesting flow here from beginning to end. At first, they seem quite set apart, and that disparity brings the reader back to beginning really, checking-- so creates a kind of circle--sad story though. K.

Brian Miller said...

it is a bit sad, but even though this lady was homeless i could not help but smile because she certainly carried a particular beauty...this ends the trifecta of poems that came out of that one night...essentially the last 3 poems i posted...i dont think the
teddy bear was hers but she made it hers...

hannah uk said...

We all need a teddybear, or comfort blanket, whosoever it may belong to when we find it, wherever we may find one and however tattered.
Love the safety of the railway tracks turned into footpath.That in itself gives comfort.
I am taking this as soothing, even though many of your poems aren't. So I am never quite sure ;-)

Natasha Head said...

As a long haired freaky person...I resonate well to this write Brian. That good will dress and bear hug was a knife thru the heart. I think as writers and word lovers we are compelled to look beyond the obvious, called to bring forth the pain that we try to hide...and you are a master. I humbly bow, Poet...new fave for me

Mama Zen said...

This is incredibly poignant, incredibly sad.

kaykuala said...

A Classic show of perspective in art. The hues of colors embedded in a black and white is a gem (thanks Kat)
Your brilliant verse completes the equation, Brian! Great!

Hank

Sandi McBride said...

I don't know why, but all I could think of was all cats are grey in the dark...distinguisment is a matter of light...the ability to see
Sandi

Jannie Funster said...

the things we see on walks certainly can open our eyes and hearts to the moment.

love to sing that song sometimes!

xo

mo.stoneskin said...

I ended up feeling incredibly sorry for the teddy bear, very sad picture.

missing moments said...

Daily lives live somewhere in the greys of black and white. Beautiful.

Pat Hatt said...

A movie reference well at least for me
And a song one too at the end I see
Much sadness in between though
As you let your gawker powers show
For some things may not be grand
But for others a treasure they hold in their hand

Kat Mortensen said...

Oh boy! Am I old enough to be your Mama? Ha ha.

I still like the piece as much as the first time, but I see you've got 5 Man updated.

Don't give Goodwill a bad name; some of my favourite outfits came from that store!

(*smiles back)

~Kat

chromapoesy.com said...

Wow, the force of the poem slammed into me with the little girl, who brought all the deep sorrow of the little match girl, building castles of beauty in her mind. Very touching work, thank you.

joeh said...

Your words paint a nice picture.

Cranky Old Man

Ed Pilolla said...

keep shadowing and shading the scenes you build, the scenes you see out with your son when the world unrolls itself to you. this is why we read poetry, our own vision is the engine of our work... haven't heard that song verse in while. too long. it's a good one.

CiCi said...

Despair in so many places. Honest sadness is a terrible place to try to get out of, not much to cling to except a helping hand.

SueAnn said...

How touching! The girl with the bear...a whole story there!! Loved this poem...I live in full on color!! Ha!!
Hugs
SueAnn

Josh Hoyt said...

Great job! I wonder how often I pass by the teddy bear and lump of hair?

AmyLK said...

I love the way you wind a story around.

Daydreamertoo said...

This takes me so far back in years to when I was the girl. Good grief. I have tears in my eyes again now. Just finished writing for my youngest sister and wanting to weep for her then I come read this.
So hard to think in colour when sometimes life is so harsh.
Darned fine writing once again and thank goodness you had a mentor who knew you 'could' In many ways, you remind me of one of my brothers, so full of compassion and empathy for others, but, you do pay if forward Brian unlike many who simply give it lip service.

Friko said...

Brian, ou teach me (and surely others) to look around me and see the signs which matter.

Jackie Jordan said...

We see the world in color ... it paints, shades and classifies. We would be impoverished without it, like the girl with the bear.

turtlememoir said...

I like the metaphor of colour vs black and white, that you illustrate so well... and the way you approach your lesson with a simple-seeming question, then weave a parable around it so we'll remember - kinda reminds me of some dude I heard about long ago... ;)

^.^ said...

I miss my teddy baer ...

Magpie said...

I just knew when you passed that bear, that he would play an important part in your story. Sadly beautiful, Brian.

Anne said...

"The sign said you got to have a membership card to get inside.." Oooh I'm so old Brian!! When you got to the part about the little girl picking up that teddy bear and holding it like it was a gift left just for her, I nearly wept. You're so good at making me feel things with your words. Thank you!!

Geraldine said...

One of my favorites here to date Brian. Lovely, touching words...and so evocative.

I love the world in technicolor hues but I love black and white too.

www.mypoeticpath.wordpress.com

rosaria said...

The last lines!!!!!!!!!!!!

Becky Sain said...

I lost my own comment!
Anyway -- the way you describe the things are so meaningful to some yet so mundane to others.
I really love the rhythm and flow to this Brian!
Well done!
So good!

Wander said...

Brian, this was beautifully pinned!
The girl at the end so sad, what seems like a discard to you is the only thing keeping her held together...

Wander

G-Man said...

Breakin up the scenery, breakin my mind!!

You are so noir at times...G

mrs mediocrity said...

such a heartbreaker... this imagery really sticks, and whether in color or black and white, it's the shades of grey that tell the real story.
i'm going to have this poem on my mind into the wee hours tonight.

Tara Miller said...

This has such sadness to it. No matter how unloved and discarded one might feel - we are loved by the One who created us. And in that is our strength and desire to love and be loved. I'm glad she found the bear to love.

Rachel Hoyt said...

It's a strange, strange world whether black and white or color. I always love the way your words paint it. :)

stu mcp (hate & hope) said...

I found this almost supernatural! I loved the discussion around how we live life, how we SEE life. I got the sense of a suicide, in the journey across the bridge and the discarded teddy bear (being a sign in itself)- like you were having a conversation with someone who you were trying to show the real meaning and value in living life. The signs are indeed everywhere. Brian- I might say- this is my fave so far of yours

Kerry O'Connor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Caruso said...

that's a strong "or" when you write "some kid dropped or--". what's outside what is spoken, the colors outside black & white, the lost meanings of shade in color . . .

velvetinapurrs said...

Really like the opening, choosing life in colour or black & white: I found the whole poem very atmospheric, dreamlike in a cinematic way..& the image of the barefoot girl with the teddy bear on your return walk is intriguing, she seems as if you saw a ghost or something past

velvetinapurrs said...

Really like the opening, choosing life in colour or black & white: I found the whole poem very atmospheric, dreamlike in a cinematic way..& the image of the barefoot girl with the teddy bear on your return walk is intriguing, she seems as if you saw a ghost or something past

Lilu said...

This made me cry.
This is my favorite of yours by far.

Louise said...

I really felt moved by this..the sadness was palpable...like we sometimes accept things and wish that we didn't...We all wish everyone could live in colour. Deep, thoughtful write that touched my heart...

Fireblossom said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Seek The Sun said...

Nice piece! I am going to ponder the question posed for awhile....do we live in black & white or color? Existence versus being fully awake and aware of all that surrounds us. The images you present give me pause to think about this question. Thanks!

happygirl said...

This started out so much happier than it ended. I loved the image and the walk with the boy. There is always so much trash around train tracks. Why is this? I live in color. But everything is perception, isn't it?

Goofball said...

cool picture from Kat!

Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

the last of the day glints the tears in her eyes
& behind her the lights of the city
give way to night,
pale in comparison---


Love this stanza--I love the voice you use in your pieces, especially in this one--

Wolfsrosebud said...

emos running deep in this one... as so many shadows walk alone

Marbles in My Pocket said...

I think these days, it's not that we can't read the signs, we simply refuse to believe they are for us. Awesome write, Brian. You delve deep into the heart of man with your words.
http://charleslmashburn.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/morning-mist/

James Rainsford said...

Signs. How well you read and interpret them in this very perceptive poem Brian. Great job as always.

Elizabeth Young said...

Such a sad sight, the little girl in the Goodwill dress with the old teddy bear. I'm so glad you allowed the little boy to see her, so that one day he will have the empathy of his father.

Jen Chandler said...

Ahhh...a breath of fresh air as always. It's good to be back :D

I've always loved black and white photography. There's a raw honesty there, as you said here, that makes the images more real. B & W shows you the soul of the image. That's what I love.

Cheers!
Jen

Vicki Lane said...

Wonderful image -- touching poem. The little girl in the sundress is forever in my mind.

Zouxzoux said...

Your story reminds us that often there is more than meets the eye and you obviously are a keen observer.

Tino said...

The picture that little girl with the bear dragged up, made me want to inflict some gratuitous violence to something, or someone. I love/hate poetry that stirs such emotions with the force you just managed to evoke. Not many can do that, so I think thats about the ultimate compliment I can pay.

Glenn Buttkus said...

There is a line in THE LAST AMERICAN HERO, where the Moonshiner Dad says of Junior's car racing, "damned foolishness for some people is the breath of life for others." Old soiled discarded teddys still have love left in them. Incredible poetics, jumping us from one visual dimension to another, one social strata to another, one mindset to another; good on you.

henry clemmons said...

You grabbed my attention this week with the black and white reference in your intro. I thought this was very moving and well presented. And thanks for the visit to my page.

KB said...

So sad.

Heaven said...

I actually like that movie and thought it had a meaningful message to share. It is a choice really, to see it or to ignore it. But I am happy to see the scene of kindness and humanity through your words.

Happy day ~

Cindee Snider Re said...

What left me breathless was the contrast between your son, hand in hand with one (you) who loves and protects him, teaches and raises him, and the little girl with the tattered bear and Goodwill dress, dirty and alone on the bridge. ...wow...

zongrik said...

i loved that song. it was sooooo cool.
but i can't read the sign over the bridge can you?


sunset tunnel

Hannah said...

You've planted a truly wonderful sense of place and characters here, Brian! Do you write bigger or I mean longer, that is maybe novel style stories, too? You show potential for that style for sure, really drawing in the reader. Great one! Smiles to you!

Steve E said...

I believe the sign reads,
"DO NOT FEED THE TEDDY BEARS".

Brian, If EVER I am grateful for these blogs (and I AM!) two reason stand at the top of my gratitude list: You, the writer, and Ces the artist.

There are many more, but only room at the top for TWO--grin!

Ginny Brannan said...

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own reality, we fail to actually appreciate it until we open our eyes to what is around us. This was a very thoughtful write, Brian. Perfect match up with the song.
(BTW: Have heard that song a lot on the radio lately, not the original but the one redone by Tesla. I will be singing it for the rest of the night now, and thinking of that young girl on the tracks.)

Heather said...

the simple things like a bear to hug, sometimes make life sweeter, if even for a moment...
i'm out of town friday thru next week - too bad!!! would have loved to have had a BUX with u- Next time!
Enjoy the visit, though!!!

ayala said...

Another great write...the girl and the bear made me sad..but I was glad that you captured it so beautifully. Love Kat's image as well :)

signed...bkm said...

the last stanza says so much and pulls the reader right into the piece...nice work Brian...bkm

Beachanny said...

I loved Pleasantville..for many years it was my favorite movie and it still ranks in my top twenty. (I felt as though I discovered Toby and Reese). Over the James put me right at the place too. Is it better to disregard the color and live in the "easy" as we did in the 50s, or find the color, however ragged, wherever down and dirty it takes us to at least examine the truth. Interesting take on the basics of life here, Brian.

Alex Dissing said...

Poignant, and you painted a pretty picture (as always).

C Rose said...

sometimes the hardest thing about compassion is remembering it is simply about recognizing another's place in this world, you carry that tone wonderfully in this! ~ Rose

momto8 said...

we always have a choice in how we react.

farmlady said...

Your vision, as a poet and a human being, astounds me.
This is one of those poems that should be in an anthology some day... too bad that I'm not a publisher.
The scope of this poem with the man, the boy, the bridge, the girl in the Goodwill summer dress, the old bear and every word of it, creates a continuous path that becomes everyone's life... everyone's responsibility. I don't know how you do this but it's quite remarkable.

Quotes,Photos and a little Poetry said...

you brought this picture into Technicolor and brought me into a to real of world. bravo.

Anonymous said...

That is an awesome picture...really love that....and funny how you have labeled the photog your "mama poet"...I'm sure she's a proud momma!

r.m. @ newviewfromhere.wordpress.com

Anonymous said...

There is a sad beauty in this:

"an hour later, a girl
barefoot on the old railroad ties
worn with dirt herself, in a faded Goodwill sun dress
stares out along the water"

Love this: "unless of course, this is a metaphor"

I'm a sepia kind of girl. :)

~Shawna
rosemarymint.wordpress.com

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

I like to see it both ways because then I catch it all.

jackie dick said...

Dang, Brian...you brought me to tears with this one...that goodwill dress, clinging to the bear...and you did it without the oversentimentality that would have brought the whole thing down..you lovely poet you...this is my favorite now. Stop it! :))

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

"♪ signs, signs, everywhere there's signs...
do this don't do that
can't you read the signs ♪ "

Hi! Brian...
"do we live in color or black & white?"

Good Question...
Tks, for sharing Kat Mortensen image which compliment your [very poetic] words very...nicely!
deedee ;-D

Joan Barrett Roberts said...

Thank u for ur writing ~ excellent

pandamoniumcat said...

I like to live in colour...I have to I have no choice I live in Queensland the colours are vivid here. I could really picture the girl, a bit like an old sepia photograph...another thought provoking poem.

Quirina said...

I really the idea of this poem, that in black and white photos we have the polarity and the grey scales ... the shadows. And that night is black and white. But the bear even though its hair is discoloured, bring colour to a barefooted tear-filled eyes of a girl.

Quirina said...

I meant to insert the word "love" after "really".

Bradley Howington said...

Lovely imagery. The girl with the teddy bear got me. Thanks for sharing, Brian.

Ruchi Jain said...

superb post...

Alan Burnett said...

Nice words, Brian. And I must admit that I am always drawn to life in a thousand shades of grey.

irene said...

I always marvel how you tell a story Brian.

marousia said...

Wonderful imagery :)

Dave King said...

then i'd rather shadow & shade,
where dark & light mix
in a living colour slow dance,
as there is seldom two sides
& to jump is no option
if you read the signs

Stunning. The poem has so many levels. I've read it a few times - and not finished yet. Congrats.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

Signs everywhere, i wonder how many I miss...

God provides even in the smallest things, a sundress discarded by someone as useless but still useful and a teddybear well loved.

Reminds me of a song which was inspired by life and the story of another ....about a coat of many colors

Charles Miller said...

This has a haunting quality to it. That girl on the bridge is spectral. You see so much, and pull it into this whole vision that is you seeing things as they are. Really haunting poem.

emma said...

This reminds me of a line from one of my kids' favorite stories by Dr. Seuss- There are so many things you can learn about BUT...you'll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut. It can be easy to close our eyes to the realities of others imagining (or being unable to imagine) that there are stories we can't tell from experience. Enjoyed this little vignette.

JStar said...

This is relaxing and takes me to "that" place :-)

Luke Prater said...

interesting.. your story about becoming a poet.. we all come different ways I guess.. took me getting very ill.. ha well that's a whole story. Touching in may places this one, man.

oh btw the Google Friend Connect is no longer available for non-Blogger blogs (which is why you don't see my new posts anymore, and probably a whole lot of others that are WordPress). I have an email sign-up. Google are going the way of Google+ Pages (like FB Author/Fan Pages), and ppl putting a widget connected to that on their blog.

Great to read you again brother,

Luke

Arlee Bird said...

This certainly gave me pause to reflect. It also made that "Signs" song start rolling through my head.

Lee
An A to Z Co-Host
Tossing It Out

mairmusic said...

One again, your narrative shines, but I like the musing that precedes it. A new perspective for you I think.

Barbara Shallue said...

love the image of the little girl hugging the bear, even though it makes me sad.

emmett wheatfall said...

Love the subject of th poem. It makes wonder and imagine. That's always a beautiful thing, Brian.

adan said...

wonderful story brian

esp really liked that next to last stanza,

"the last of the day glints the tears in her eyes
& behind her the lights of the city
give way to night,
pale in comparison---"

which chimes with the whole reflectiveness-tone

thanks brian ;-)

Arron Shilling said...

hey brian - awesome all over by the pale incomparison line really
pushes the whole into the memory banks - its a butt kicker for sure :)

Fred Rutherford said...

Cool image. I tend to prefer color when it comes to most everything, yet with photography and in art, while I still prefer vividness to b & w, I do love how a good b & W piece of art looks. TV or movies, please just give me color, unless of course it's done artistically, which is a completely other story.

Love the walk aspect here and the journey type theme. Bridges are great places to venture around and are great metaphors also. Really enjoyed the read. Thanks

adeeyoyo said...

It's not only your powers of observation, Brian, it is the way in which you put them into words, pulling at our heartstrings, playing with our feelings all the time - joy, sorrow, pity... you name it. Brilliantly done, whether in colour or black and white!

Andrew Kreider said...

So well observed, and told. All those lives along the railroad track, each one a sign. What a powerful image of the girl holding the bear, in her Goodwill sundress. Thanks!

Uneven Stephen said...

Brian, this poem has a fantastic "beat" feel to me - which you execute brilliantly. Great write.

Semaphore said...

I don't know whether this poem is based on a real eperience, but your layering and layering of detail upon specific detail - Perciel's Island, a teddy bear, a lump of hair, railway ties, a sundresss - gives the poem a visceral realism that draws the reader into the narrative.

joanna said...

i feel like i know this girl and this bridge... you paint such truth into your words, b.

sharmishtha said...

so very true, and so beautifully said.

i have noted this point after naming my blog.

life is a really complex affair.

Sue said...

Sad and stirring.

I love Kat's image, too.

=)

Sreeja said...

whoww such a good poem, lively and meaning full.......so much to see beyond...

Syd said...

I wonder what the girl's story is. Perhaps the discarded bear is her only friend. Heart wrenching.