on secret codes & plastic bags

amsterdam, pic by c. schoenfeld

.

i like his eyes on first sight, not drunk,
though the beer can in his hand seems empty,

seated on a bench, he’s talking
to doves and a seagull on a post near the canal,
observes people on the lively square,

tourists that unfold their maps
(navigating Amsterdam is for advanced–),
a young couple, eating ice cream
and some hippies
that just lit a joint on the bench next to us–

somewhere in his eighties i think,
face tanned dark like genuine leather,

as our eyes meet for the third time,
i feel caught, he smiles,

trashes the can & takes his bike,
adventurously laden with
a heap of tight stuffed plastic bags,
makes his way along the alley &

i trace him ’til he’s out of sight,
watch the doves pick bread crumbs like they’d search for clues
between remnants of last night, the stained & fallen,
days not yet defined, and for a moment wish

he’d shared that code with me
to talk to them a bit

.

Stu McPherson tends the dVerse Poetics bar today and he challenges us to weave these lines of melancholy into the beautiful, that most poets are so aware of.. see you at 3pm EST when he opens the pub doors..

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71 responses to “on secret codes & plastic bags

  1. So imaginative Claudia…. you bring such vibrancy to every small essence in life… How often I sat upon the benches at bahnhoffs so many years ago and yet you took me there as though it was yesterday… Thank you…

  2. People watching at its best, Claudia…yes, wouldn’t it be nice if all those who were able to talk to birds would be able to share the code! Liked your picture too.

  3. i really like this guy as a character…he is someone i would totally watch and maybe even talk to….esp if he can talk to the birds…smiles. the stained and fallen days….cool description, evocative as well….i can see the scene and want more…

  4. Gawking once more I see, you will give Brian a run for his money haha quite the character the guy with the not drunk eyes, although that may be lies..haha

  5. Great imagery Claudia. Would I had guessed Amsterdam? Probably not. But once you navigated the scene so eloquently, I was pleasantly transported back to my own moments in Amsterdam.

  6. A very interesting encounter. I like the connection between you and the rider. Something got passed. It’s something you would recall and think about from time to time. 🙂 Wonderful to read.

  7. So neat … I was there then and now again with you … I remembering, smelling, experiencing everything … and the dutch bikes … o, man … I’m still so in love with Amsterdam … thanks, C 🙂

  8. I do believe we can talk to animals, we just have to ‘tune’ in. I bet he is so rich in character and knowledge too. It sounds as if you ‘shared’ a moment or two with him. Lovely imagery again Claudia.

  9. ‘(navigating Amsterdam is for advanced–),’ How true, having tried myself! ‘watch the doves pick bread crumbs like they’d search for clues/between remnants of/last night, the stained & fallen,/days not yet defined,’ Great, peerless lines here, Claudia. Touching and so accurately described.

  10. Sad Beauty–hmm–I felt haunted at the end of this so vivid poem– eyes meeting three times and feeling trapped–then realized a switch of focus! It wasn’t the man who fascinated “you” s the narrator didn’t even think of following–it was an envy, a magic you sensed he had to talk to the birds–confirmed when it seemed they look for clues. I like the pure contemplation of this poem where it seems the narrator wants to be in more than her stream of consciousness, but really her consciousness is enough. I muse over her.

  11. totally nailed it Claudia- and I love how you capture a scene so may choose o ignore. The funny thing about characters like this- is that in a way- they are free-er than us- now I’m not saying they have an easy life- on the contrary- but maybe the fact that they’re life has been so difficult is that they have walked through so many fires- they have learned to leave behind what is important…great poem

  12. Claudia, A wonderful description of your people watching. I can see the beautiful sadness in the life of this old man who talks to doves and seagulls. You have portrayed him as content, but there is a sadness underneath of a life alone. Peace, Linda

  13. There is a melancholic flow to this, though it’s like a mist of mystery, not fully defined, just felt. I love to people watch. I invent stories, often sad, about the people I see.

    Have a good weekend Claudia.

  14. My favorite lines,

    “watch the doves pick bread crumbs like they’d search for clues
    between remnants of last night, the stained & fallen,”

    Definitely filled with beautiful sadness, Claudia 🙂 Hope all is well in your world these days!

  15. Shared glimpses between you and a stranger, exchanging and creating your own code maybe without even realising it. How many people may have seen him and overlooked him or worst still looked the other way in disgust at his trash and empty beer can. Only looking right into the scene are you able to really see the beauty… and you always do Claudia.

  16. “…and for a moment wish

    he’d shared that code with me
    to talk to them a bit”

    It is amazing how, when least expected, someone can touch our lives. A beautiful capture, Claudia!

  17. Another snapshot from your travels, this one seems more meditative, and fits the prompt really well…that distance between us so small really, yet often so impossible to bridge. We are all mysteries to each other in the end. Lovely poem.

  18. I love how this poem unfolds through your eyes, and there’s no words exchanged. I almost wondered at the end, “why talk? as if feeling were not enough to get a grasp of the situation…” But I love being destabilized!

  19. The man had all the time in the world. If only he could vibrate his feelings. If only the birds could have felt it!. Nice write Claudia!

    Hank

  20. a beautiful snapshot (or should I say painting). somehow I doubt there is a secret code, but he would probably come up with one if asked.

  21. Beautifully observed and beautifully interpreted. I suspect the clue to the code was in the discarded can; I suspect he tapped it on the bench occasionally, the Amsterdam equivalent of the talking drum.

  22. love. LOVE your last two stanzas. you hone in on something remarkably human here. watching him til he disappears and the doves picking breadcrumbs for clues. another scene given life by your hand. great work.

  23. very nicely done Claudia. Excellent progressions moving one through the experience. Love the notion of eyes, and how you used them here, and the parenthetical bit about Amsterdam being for advance, was a really nice touch, for its own merits, but also in the manner it opens up a new layer. Great write. thanks

  24. a perfectly beautiful capture of a beautiful sadness… you painted such a rich and fabulous picture of the scene and the tension between the two of you is wonderful. I think that, perhaps, he did leave you just a bit of code to take with you…

  25. You spoke to him in your mind in whilst he spoke to the pigeons which were speaking to each other. A marvellous snapshot of another human being’s life.

    Greetings from London.

  26. What realy hit me about this, is from the opening line, I was thinking a youthful man and then you turn that on its head revealing the man is 80… and still he seems so youthful. Such a wonderful twist!

  27. i trace him ’til he’s out of sight,
    watch the doves pick bread crumbs like they’d search for clues
    between remnants of last night, the stained & fallen,
    days not yet defined, and for a moment wish

    It is this way for me also when I watch people. Especially in open places, I wonder of them even though we only crossed paths for a moment. The above is my favorite stanza. It’s the tracing that has me.
    http://shewritesherefornow@blogspot.com

  28. This is awesome. I read it through a couple of times and I love the simplicity in this capture. Your observations, the tracing…the brief moments a fascination to me as a reader. So good.

  29. This is a wonderful piece. I love the feeling I get throughout and at the end, thinking the speaker missed something and found something at the same time.

  30. gotta feel that would’ve been a neat code to have been shared with 😉

    “as our eyes meet for the third time,
    i feel caught, he smiles,”

    such great ambiance, and love the image too, esp the bird!

    i read this, and feel a peace; i hope it was like this often for you 😉

  31. Thank you for that trip to Amsterdam, if I ever go, I’m sure that I’ll know this place! Made me laugh with the line about navigating Amsterdam is for the advanced. You caught that tension between curiosity and getting caught 🙂

  32. “i trace him ’til he’s out of sight,
    watch the doves pick bread crumbs like they’d search for clues
    between remnants of last night, the stained & fallen,
    days not yet defined, and for a moment wish

    he’d shared that code with me
    to talk to them a bit”

    just lovely, claudia! you definitely fulfilled Stuart’s prompt and, as always, you can take a “small” moment in your day and bring it to life so beautifully!

  33. Hi! Claudia… I really like this stanza:
    “i trace him ’til he’s out of sight,
    watch the doves pick bread crumbs like they’d search for clues
    between remnants of last night, the stained & fallen,
    days not yet defined, and for a moment wish

    he’d shared that code with me
    to talk to them a bit…”

    in your very descriptive poem:on secret codes & plastic bags
    Tks, for sharing the image too…It compliments your [very] beautiful poetic words.
    deedee 🙂