Life Happens Most When You Aren’t Looking

For dVerse Poets Pub tonight, the prompt is to write about the things that happen while we’re not paying attention, the small things in the corner of our eyes, half-glimpsed. I based my poem upon my almost unhealthy obsession with sneaking a peek at other people’s bookshelves.

Tales of the Unexpected Reader

??????????Loitering with Father Dirt,

in her bookcase I pick up

random titles, authors brittle, dead,

their fame clinging like heavy wet sand

to her hesitant words.

Blue Nights with a grain of sand

I assemble in her silence.

Genji winks at Kafka when

they witness my quick fumble, sorry mess.

Who are they to judge the

81 Austerities between women and men?

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42 thoughts on “Life Happens Most When You Aren’t Looking”

  1. Marina Sofia – Your post captures so well those little moments of serendipity.. I reminds me of John Lennon’s lyrics: Life is just what happens to you when you’re busy doing other things.

  2. I do like looking at others’ bookshelves too. Those ‘random titles’ can tell a lot about the owner. And Father Dirt or not, they definitely leave an impression!

  3. smiles… i love to look at other’s bookshelves as well.. always interesting to see what people are reading – and i have found gems that way… smiles

  4. oh – my bookshelves are a mess by the way… they stand in two rows behind each other .. like the cars in paris… ha…cause there isn’t enough space…

  5. Ha. yes looking through the bookcases is something I particularly did when I was younger.. now they are all in my reader.. (btw that’s the purpose with goodreads isn’t it?) .. but there are people who buy books because how they look.. (there is a risk in that).

    1. Or people who buy paintings to fit in with their colour scheme… I think books are the best way to decorate a house, to be honest. Buying a Kindle (as my poor husband did in exasperation for me) has only resulted in me buying twice as many books – both ebooks and physical.

  6. ha. my books are some lined, some stacked…some stacked in front…a mess indeed…i love checking out others book cases though as i find new bookds to read…some pairings on the shelf would be rather funny to hear a conversation by the writers…

  7. Messy bookshelves! Wonderful out-0f-the-corner-of-the-eye stuff! I’m looking at mine now and all the various bits of detritus that has gathered on them! Love the line ‘authors brittle.Dead.’ great little poem 🙂

  8. Like everyone else, I too am fascinated by the bookshelves of others…right down to how they’re organised be it alphabetically, by height / width / depth / colour etc, etc 🙂
    Fab poem, Marina, great prompt, thank you.

  9. Around my place my DVD/VHS movie shelves outnumber my book shelves, 30,000 titles, the history of Cinema; the older VHS are double-stacked like the cars in Paris; but I still hustle up VHS blank tapes to record my fave TV shows; still have several functional VCR’s; old men resist change.

  10. Interesting.. my wife the quintessential shopper is always interested in looking in other folks buggies..

    while i do spy books and almost all other details that provide a clue to the soul of others…

    And i suppose the soul lives in the buggy too.. or at least the cover of the book of life and what feeds it…

    But i’d rather have the inside too..:)

  11. yes i know how it is……….. Last week i cleaned my book shelf it was such dirty mess I was go sick of the whole thing……… But you know what ,…….. it has so much to say to us……… our past …………… holds a lot

  12. Great idea to write about books and imagine what they would have to say to one another, or their authors, I should say…they literally have moved the world 😉

    1. I actually imagined this couple meeting in her house and he sneaks a look at her bookcases and feels inhibited about how intellectual her choices seem, so… hence the rather unsuccessful encounter…

  13. My bookcase was such a mess, my husband actually tidied it up and got me another one for the overflow. His own bookshelves are not mch better. Love your poem. It’s something I never thought about, but I do like to look at other people’s bookcases. It’s pretty revealing.

  14. Book shelves say so much about their owners–especially the ones that have small groupings of four or five leather-bound volumes carefully arranged amongst the objets d’art which predominate. And there are those people who read a lot, but get their books from the library–aren’t they ever tempted to spontaneously reread a passage or revisit a character? As for the Kindle and iPad, great conveniences, but I find I don’t remember as much of what I’ve read as I do when viewing the printed page. So, vive les livres and the shelves that hold them.

    1. Spot on – some studies have emerged that say our brains can’t cope as well with the structure of a story or remembering it when we read them on ereaders. As for books for decoration, pfooey to that! (Although I do think wall to wall of bookshelves are pretty cool, especially with a ladder to help you access all your books).

    1. OK, you caught me there, I do occasionally have a peek at pantries too – medicine cabinets? No, just the expensive creams and showergels lying artistically about the bathroom – too embarassed as to what I might find otherwise.

  15. I,pass the bookcase and I notice the colors, vaguely see the titles. Did I read that? And then… On to life. Lovely images of the jumble of our times and places in and by the shelves, Marina.

  16. Many a time I’ve found myself staring at other peoples bookshelves when I should be doing something else when working. I can see how this is something that would capture you and you would capture so well.

  17. How wonderful to know that I’m not alone in loving to look at people’s bookcases. I’ve always felt a bit guilty for sneaking a peek, but my curiosity usually wins out. Unlike the private medicine chest, the bookcase shows itself openly, pulling us in and revealing so much about the owner. As for organizing books, I try periodically but inevitably one of the books distracts me and I end up reading it instead of tidying up the titles. I love this prompt and your own poem. Being new here, I know I’ll be back.

  18. Catching up to your prompt, Marina!
    My mother rearranges her bookshelf often and I find myself looking for those she has discarded or moved. Very strange habit of mine. My bookshelf is my reader but I really enjoy buying books from those I meet on WordPress…supporting their dreams. 🙂

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