the burning of her dullness – for dVerse


a beggar with a cardboard sign
on bluish blistered bending knees
her eyes are dull they’ve lost their shine
I’m passing by, avoid to see

I cannot face her misery
and fumble for a lame excuse
to keep her in periphery
she’s never worked, deserved her dues

I cross the street to save myself
but burning on my retina
this girl that begs for little wealth
those eyes that scorch my stamina

I turn around, I’ve changed my mind
a crumpled bill is all I give
but was it really to be kind?
or did I give myself the gift?

Looking the other way

Looking the other way

Today at dVerse Marina has us to write of things that we might see in the periphery that are utterly important, while we focus on more important things. I think sometimes we force ourselves not to see, as streets are filled with beggars here in Stockholm this has become a choice we have to make daily.

37 responses to “the burning of her dullness – for dVerse

  1. Good question, Bjorn. Whether it was to be kind or to soothe one’s own guilt, the result will the same. The girl will never know the motive, but she will benefit from the gift.

  2. I like this poem, Björn. It is a situation I can relate to, especially the burning of the retina. In the end, I guess that even if the reason was not the best, it is the result that counts. I am sure she was glad.

  3. an interesting question there in the close… i love though that you went back and i love that you saw her…some people just don’t even see those on the margins of our so called “civilization”

  4. ah this is one that i had thought of…the street people….and i am glad you made the decision in the end…i have shared many a meal with them….and they are not that much different than us…

  5. Like the poems about the prostitutes you encounter as you travel, panhandlers proliferate in every clime, every language. Once a person had diminished their pride, & has accepted the status of beggar, they function in a different universe than those of us who carry on the daily struggle of self-reliance, & when the worlds collide, dissonance reigns.

  6. I’ve seen so many people walk past stony-eyed – at least she was not invisible to you. But yes, are we assuaging our own guilt? A very good question – no easy answers.

  7. Recently I did a stupid thing and left my credit/debit cards at home and ran out of gas..almost..pulled into a gas station thinking I had the $5 from the day before…and no, so I humbly asked a couple of people if they could spare $5 to get me to my daughter’s house…I was surprised how readily two women came to the rescue, thinking nothing of giving away $, as we have all had ‘stranger things happen’ and found ourselves up a creek..the two men I asked did not have any cash…
    …it’s harder to give to the homeless because we don’t know that they aren’t spending it on drugs or liquor, but who are we to judge…Glenn is right, once one has reached that point of losing all their pride, it’s just one more small step to being a beggar for lack of a better term…for so many it is no fault of their own…some are stuck, as you know…I’m glad you went back..

  8. Thanks for going back, Bjorn. And I know only too well the question you ask at the end. I feel the same way. One gives bills, but that doesnt solve the problem, which is societal, and too big for any one of us.

  9. Giving is good but who we give matter……… Those healthy and good can do any work……. Today the world has so much opportunity even the handy caped people work for there living………. in India beggars are cheather…… so i would not what to look at them at all

  10. It’s JUST how empathy works.. the natural human connection.. the warm feeling of sharing.. and the guilt for not.. if not for the guilt..as human beings are truly simple beings at core of emotions..AT pro-social emotion reward and punishment..there will not be near as much sharing.. as the instinct is to give.. but there are too many to give to these days.. which is truly the conundrum i think.. a balance can be so hard to find…. when expectations and limits do cross….

  11. Great poem. I do believe that we all want to be good and help other people. But in today’s environment it’s easy to ignore that feeling.

  12. Now I recall beggars around the city, just sitting there all day long ~ I am also conflicted on whether to give them a bill or not ~ A good one Bjorn ~

  13. I don’t think you’re alone with these thoughts. Guilt is often the instigator of charity. I love how you expose that here. The last line is so full of meaning.

  14. Sensitively written, Bjorn, and you raise the question of who benefits from the cash gift. You read of the rare panhandler who brings in $60,000 a year, the wounded war veteran who can’t find work, and the habitual street person who spends his/her handouts on liquor and drugs. How do you determine who will really benefit from your donation? And how do you categorize your own motivation to give? I fear its easier to give to the big- or small-time “marketing pro” as he/she knows how to make us feel good about our generosity, while we walk away from the despair of the truly needy as they leave us feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable about the differences in our situations.

  15. says a lot, Bjorn. sad, but then that is how reality mostly is. here in Kolkata, begging was turned into business. kids have their limbs taken, blinded and made to beg on the streets. then there are youngsters who beg, then blow up the money on local alcohol and drugs. the truely homeless, the ones that need real help recede somewhere in the darkness.

  16. Well, I must look like everybody’s mother, because I get approached by street kids so often, I carry spare change to give to them for a hot coffee. Many times, they share a little memory of when they were growing up (usually on the coattails of a remark about the weather). Their little insights, I find, are often tinged with regret. They really aren’t particularly different – just a lot of bad luck, topped off with bad choices. Poor souls.

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