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Wednesday, August 11, 2010


For Big Tent Poetry

This week’s prompt, by guest maestro Cynthia Short
Many of us live lives acquiring — or attempting to divest ourselves of — possessions. From the cars we drive, and the antique bowls our grandmas gave us, to the house we once loved but now need to sell … often possessions help define our lives.
This week’s prompt is to think of something you possess. What are your feelings about this possession? Do you possess it, or does it possess you?
Some of the things I possess, but that haven’t yet made it on the page as a poem include: a scar, my mother’s laugh, and old suitcase that I traveled with extensively. Mementos of an important part of my life, an old photo of relatives that died before I was born, a horrible gift that I must display because I love the person who gave it to me … you get the idea: most any thing in our physical worlds are possessions that might just have an impact on our lives.


Introducing Kuhn Chaidee
As you can see, he’s in good shape
That’s on account of his diet
All he can eat grows freely
Or it swims, or crawls, or flies

Kuhn Chaidee realizes
The value of possessions
Is something that’s relative
Emotional or intrinsic
Nevertheless he takes pride

His single-roomed residence
Is a permanent work-in-progress
Although a temporary construction
Built from salvaged timber, bamboo
And recycled cement sacks

He has access to running water
That he can’t afford to run
Electrical connection
Via a single plug socket
Feeding a single light bulb
Though he retires at nightfall

And a refrigerator
To store his drinking water
As well as a black and white TV
He never has time to watch
Even his ancient cell phone
Only takes incoming calls

He could never afford a car
But he can afford to smile
At his accumulated wealth
He measures in modesty


  1. Excellent pointer for all of us to study - what do we need to live happily?

  2. Thanks Jinksy; The character is fictional, but the condition is real enough.

  3. People live like that in rural Australia. Although we are supposed to pretend they don't
    and never mention it!

  4. Thanks Rall; I think the same applies in most places.

  5. gives some food to think about what we really need in life..

  6. I like your style Stan.
    Your writing is always so true to life..Many a times it has been an eye-opener to how life is for others in another part of the world.
    Thanks for such beautiful posts..
    AM glad im following your blog..

  7. Thanks to:
    Claudia; Beyond food and shelter, everything is a luxury.
    Vibuthi; I try to write about the things I see around me as much as possible.

  8. I always enjoy your poetry about what's around you. He has what is necessity, but I wonder about longevity.

  9. Thanks Mary; Good point - but isn't that what we all wonder bout anyway...?

  10. Thanks for this piece, Stan. Do you mind if I print it out to share with my students? It could bring about a healthy classroom discussion, and heighten their knowledge of the world on a very human level. Great work.

  11. Thanks Brenda; Go ahead, please - and I'd love some feedback on it.

  12. Stan, When it fits somehow with what we're doing I'll share it. And yes, definitely I'll let you know what they think. Thanks.

  13. Thanks Brenda; Hope it proves useful.

  14. One of my favourites of your poems so far, Stan. I was astonished to learn he's fictional; the poem has a ring of truth to it - I suppose because there are people living like that. I learned not to waste stuff - especially food - from my time in South Africa, where the poverty goes on despite the changes.

    A thought provoking poem.


  15. Thank you, Stan, for making us concentrate on the real importance of some possessions and the trivial fly-by-night quality of the "must-haves" of today's society. Like Tilly, I was surprised that it was fictional - you have written it so well - but still true for so many people.

  16. Thanks to:
    TLH; It's a similar story here, though poverty is purely a financial shortage - food is plentiful and cheap.
    ViV; I don't get too attached to possessions and I see all around me how easy it is to manage without.

    The piece is only fictional in that the man in the photo is not the real Kuhn Chaidee, and the name is made up. The 'house' is real, and inhabited. The possessions are pretty accurate too.

  17. His needs are so simple. And we need to learn from him. Thanks for this.

    half-way through

  18. Thanks Gautami; Not only that, but like so many with so little, he's happy to share all he has.

  19. Your poem makes me look like a rabid materialist, Stan! Whilst your character, Kuhn, helps us to see how little we really need, I am conscious that his lifestyle, like many others, is also one of necessity.

  20. We complicate our lives with so much stuff, and complain the whole time. If only we could step out of who we are, and be "Kuhn Chaidee" for a couple of days, maybe we could see how ridiculously "overfed" we are in our lives, and learn to appreciate the things that truly matter. I love this poem, Stan, and I hope more people than our small poetry community read it, and actually hear its message.

    - Dina

  21. Thanks to God he doesn't have to survive Wisconsin winters!

  22. An interesting take on the prompt! And I have to say that picture of your new dog is stealing my heart...

  23. I think this has become my very favorite of your offerings, Stan. You always bring a rich panarama, but this goes deep and leaves a resonance that keeps vibrating. And Diane, there are many in Wisconsin who have far less, living in donated shelters, but only during a carefully allotted number of hours each night. During the day?


  24. Excellent take on the prompt! Wonderfully written!


  25. Stan this is excellent and a very good reminder to be happy with ourselves and not tangible items!

  26. "But he can afford to smile," something we should keep in mind. Very nice poem.

  27. Thanks to:
    Derrick; Don't feel bad about it, - just spare a thouht...
    Dina; We're programmed by the societies in which we live.
    Diane; Fortunately for him, winters are mild.
    Twitches; An example of what possesses me... :)
    Elizabeth; I try to keep aware of my surroundings.
    Weasel; All possesions are relative...
    Pamela; Just live and be happy...

  28. Beautiful poem. Yes,little is much...

  29. I do like your sketch, Stan. A fine balance. Easy to sentimentalize or deplore what is, after all, life for uncountable people.

  30. Thanks to:
    Philip; I gues things could always be worse...
    Uma; Little worth, much appreciation.
    Wayne; Said as seen;
    Barbara; An uncomplicated lifestyle.

  31. This piece left me wanting to know much more about your subject!
    When I look at all I have, at times it does leave me embarrassed for having all the frivolous trappings of my American life.

  32. Thanks Cynthia; There are many things that money can't buy, that we can all possess.

  33. Thanks Tumblewords; His economy will never crash.