Portable Junk Drawer

Photo by Robert Doisneau
Photo by Robert Doisneau

Regina laughs every time she shows me

The contents of her purse

I call the purse a portable junk drawer

But, she isn’t laughing at what I say

She hears me, but doesn’t

Pulling two compact discs

Out of her junk drawer

They look new, as if stolen

I’m not sure

I give her 8 dollars

She must sign her name

And print her address on a receipt

She seems bewildered

As if no address exists

As if all addresses were hers

She uses a shelter’s address….and

Continues to laugh, eyes rolling


As if in a convulsion

There is something rattling

In her junk drawer. I can’t tell what it is

I glimpse a small, balled up piece of foil

She tightens her legs together

Twitches and produces

A surprised look of a kind of recognition

She must find a bathroom and

Digs deep in her junk drawer

For a couple of brown paper napkins

She’s off into the November night.

I lose sight of her and

Watch the corpses of leaves

Flirt with winter

A chill fills me, blowing in from

The front door. Open sign glowing.

She’s back within two minutes

With another CD.

Again, new looking. Is it stolen?

I give her 4 more dollars

She smells her hand, wiping blood

On the tip of her nose

Counting her twelve dollars

Looks across the room, eyes widened

As if seeing someone

I think she can

Looks back into her junk drawer

Laughs, stuffing the bills into her purse

35 Comments on “Portable Junk Drawer

  1. You are a good reader. I didn’t think anyone would catch that one. If you were to use that bit of information, the poem may have another meaning that no one else has stumbled upon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow…one of the most uncomfortable pieces I’ve ever read (as are most of the rest of your works that I have read).

    This is the highest compliment an artist can receive. To be able to grab people from a place of complacency…or self pity, as the case may be…and make them see a side of life that most try to ignore, voluntarily (for if we are not captured by the words we read, we turn the page), then what you have written is quite obviously brilliant.

    I’m not sure how you found The Old Fossil Writes, but I thank you for dropping by…and then following me!

    I wish you all the best. Keep the prose coming 🙂


  3. I know this last poem was a bit, how can I say it, real. But, it is based on a real person/people. In my city, there are so many homeless people living on the street. Some of them have varying mental health issues and it seems they are getting little to no help at all, except for someone who works at a record store, who gives them a few dollars for things that are most likely stolen. I wanted to post a different type of poem last time. I was a bit worried about the kind of reaction it would create. Thanks as always, my bee friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This one has really stuck with me, Elan, for a few days now, I see the image of the woman. I got the period reference, although probably not other themes buried in there. And it made me think of one nice article a friend posted a while ago, it was about an organization providing the homeless folks portable showers on wheels that drive from town to town, a wonderful idea, I think. Thank you for this beautiful portrait.


  5. Disturbing, as I’m sure you intended. Haunting. Beautiful. And I suppose, at the end of the day, a reflection of humanity as a whole.

    FYI my blog is now under the website laurietopin.com. Looking forward to seeing you there.


  6. Thanks Elan…when I get a moment…I will read it again and see if I can come up with any of the other buried themes and let you know what I think. Best.


  7. Yes, I knew the blood would be a bit ambiguous. I left it that way on purpose. But, if you must know. Regina, in the course of selling stolen CDs, starts her period. She doesn’t have adequate health care and on top of it does not have a bathroom. That’s the simple explanation. There are two more themes buried deep within those lines. Thanks for your interest.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m so happy about your response. The fact that someone is putting some thought into something I wrote, excites and intrigues me. I understand your comment and wish respect to you. I like your poetry. Keep it up. I will read more. My poem isn’t just about the woman with a mental illness. It’s also about the narrator and how the narrator is dealing with the/a situation that is larger than she/he has the ability to fix. But, in one small way, attempts to see the pretend people Regina does. They have and have had an ongoing relationship. Thank you so much!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. To be honest, I feel very honored that someone with such recognition as yourself, noticed my poetry. It has been 20 years since I was last in college doing deep analytical work on poetry and all its elements. My recent writings as of today seem to just pop out of my head from no where, like a song. I can recall writing some poetry in college though where you had to analyze things such as the names of the people, or names of the places and how it all related to an overall theme…actually sort of gives me a headache to attempt to push my left side brain into the right side territory…if that makes sense. But it’s all okay. You did an excellent portrayal of a homeless woman and her lifestyle…guess it is hard for me to see the narrator side due to the fact that I lived with mentally ill people for so long. Thanks for the feedback. Sincerely, LaVancia


  10. Thanks so much Elan for writing such a clever piece :). I have a junk drawer of my own…that I call a treasure chest…its a great leather bag that gets better with time. I take it every where…but every time I look for something its like an exploration and I am never quite sure what I will find. Though whatever it is…it is usually mine…although I may not be expecting to find that and in search of something else.

    However, the fact that Regina has blood on her hands…it has made me super curious about what caused that and what she will do next. So don’t leave me hanging like this….haha :). Both you and her are real teasers for doing this…though she does it with a big laugh.
    Well do tell….otherwise my imagination will keep running wild. I hope you will write a followup piece soon…to let us know the back story or the forward one. Peace and Love to you 🙂 ☆☆

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mmh, I don’t see where I am supposed to feel offended. To respond to you, I would simply ask you what is normal? Is the reaction the narrator is having to the encounter inside the poem “normal”? To be honest, and I too hope you won’t be offended, I think you might be missing some elements of this poem.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Having lived most my adult life (the past 17 years) around mentally ill people, myself included, my reaction was a bit different than the norm-so please try not to judge, but your poem made me laugh out loud several times as I have seen so many in the institutions doing things “normal” people would never imagine…you forgot the best one…

    As she hurries away,
    her glance sways
    to the cigarette butt
    lying upon the edge of the highway.
    She turns and looks,
    both left and right,
    then gleefully picks up
    her newest delight…

    Please don’t feel offended but sometimes that poet in me just won’t shut up….lol.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and entering the “danger zone.” 🙂 Sincerely, LaVancia


  13. This surpasses poetry and literally becomes moving images. I am there, right there in the moment of your exchanges and observances. Absolutely brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Chillingly vivid and profoundly heartbreaking! Thank you. I did not expect what I found in myself while reading this. By projecting such pain, you conjure a need for humanity in this hour and each that follows. Art like yours is where societies evolves

    Liked by 2 people

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