Free for All

My first winter in Boston, I spent evenings trudging door-to-door, canvassing money and signatures for good causes. All these years later I’m still amazed anyone would open their door in the freezing wind and dark, my height and size bulked up further by my parka. Boston is known for its cold, both in temperature and in people, yet many folks seemed happy to talk to me. Often they would let me in to warm a bit while we chatted about toxic waste and such.

I hated the job and was lousy at the fundraising, but it was endlessly fascinating to go to each house or apartment, wait for the door to open, and peer inside people’s little world bubbles. Every street or building was full of dozens of small, weird, parallel universes where I could see, and sometimes even smell, the hopes and aspirations. Tchotchkes, photo collections, pots on the stove, tables set for dinner or homework, kids yelling, grandparents kvetching, friends in t-shirts smoking cigarettes, flocked velvet paintings of Elvis, brocade couches and seashell lamps, TV shows or radios or records playing, crosses and menorahs, rich and poor. It was the joy of people watching with a deeper view into the question “I wonder what that person’s life is like?”

What was most amazing – and I value still – is I began to realize my own life was also only a weird little bubble. I lived in merely another, very small, and arbitrary parallel universe. Just another snow globe. What I imagined as the Truth of my life was cut a bit down to size. Certainly, we are all permitted our truth, but none of us has The Truth. We are odd and hopeful creatures, you and I, burrowed into our nests for the winter along with the shiny pennies and pins and strings we collect like crows, praying we make it through to Spring.

I am a leaf
before the fall




For dVerse Haibun Monday

44 thoughts on “Free for All

  1. The string of items that make up our worlds is beautifully written and the philosophy brings a smile; most of all is the layers of meaning in your micro-poem!! Possibly the most excellent micro…dare I say Ever? I’ll leave it at that. Thanks for hosting.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. We are odd and hopeful creatures, you and I, burrowed into our nests for the winter along with the shiny pennies and pins and strings we collect like crows, praying we make it through to Spring.

    The human condition pretty well summed up. Love it. Very excited that you are hosting tonight, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the micro poem . As to your prose, I can relate to your experience:
    I lived in merely another, very small, and arbitrary parallel universe. Just another snow globe.

    I had an opportunity to volunteer and deliver Meals on Wheels to disabled and/or elderly people, and I got a chance to peer into their apartments/homes very quickly. Their reality is of course, very different from mine. It was learning experience for me.

    Thanks for hosting.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a coming of age poem and I value your retelling of all those scenes — “kvetching” and all — that grew you back then into knowing the essence of your micro-poem. What I love too about this is, whether you raised the funds or not, you show an appreciation for all your neighbors. One doesn’t hear much anymore, “Man, I just love people!”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is so good… i feel that dawning realization how very much the same in our different unique bubbles… it’s the eye that sees that and sees that his own bubble is one of many unique and similar that build the uniqueness of a collective called a city or a country…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. One of the reasons I so enjoy reading haibun is finding out about other people, where they live and what they think. I love this peek into your world, Randall, as you peeked into the worlds of the people you visited. By the sound of it, they were glad of the company you offered them. I love the phrase ‘little world bubbles’ and the list of things you might find in them, especially ‘grandparents kvetching’! And yes, we all have our bubbles. What a perfect micro poem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Much thanks. I tried and tried to work it into classic Haiku form, but anything I added to it just took away from the simplicity. Finally, well, micro-poem it is.

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      1. Well the micro poem is a beauty. It says more actually than the haibun, than of any of our haibun. Please excuse my typing. I am wearing my old glasses because I broke my newer pair) and can’t see for jack squat.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Just as I was starting the exercise, those two lines came to me. After I wrote them down I was like uh, um, I think I’m done. Then it dawned on my that I still had to get some narrative in front of it! Wasn’t easy at all.

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  7. A wonderful poem and peek into your slice-of-life memories. I dig your ease and accuracy within your descriptions. Have we done micro poems at dVerse? I’d like a shot at them. Back in the day, I think we did some 10 word poems. A poets life is never dull.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I had to comment again, because you reminded me of winter evenings walking quiet streets and hoping people would have left their curtains open, so I could peer in at their lives. Endlessly fascinating. Lots of images conjured up here.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. kaykuala

    All these years later I’m still amazed
    anyone would open their door in the
    freezing wind and dark

    One may feel it as an intrusion to privacy, a put-off to many first-timers wanting to do good.. But the passion and sincerity of purpose won over in those strong-willed to venture on! They did what they came to do! Your micro as many had mentioned is a classic!

    Hank

    Liked by 1 person

  10. i like you carried me along with your lovely narrative, into people’s homes and lives and how they opened up to you, in all dimensions. When you peered into their homes it’s like finding your own humanity painted in different but so familiar hues. This was such a joy to read. and as Mish said -a most excellent micro poem -ever!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A leaf before the fall is excellent! Genesis of a haiku.

    Your haibun is wonderfully related. This is one of the gifts you bring to poetry, q. Great concrete observations mixed freely with personal observations and interpretations — all with charm.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I really enjoyed this. My older daughter is a social worker in Boston, and I can imagine her experiencing this, as well.
    I loved these lines: “We are odd and hopeful creatures, you and I, burrowed into our nests for the winter along with the shiny pennies and pins and strings we collect like crows, praying we make it through to Spring.” And I agree with others about micro poem–wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Canvasing the neighborhood, getting a live look-into other worlds… your prose reads easy and philosophical. The micropoem at the end ties it together well and says so much. Well crafted.

    Liked by 1 person

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