Monday, April 15, 2013


15-year-old me bought this.
 (Unknown speaker behind me during the crowded Christmas shopping season at Polaris mall several years ago )

Well, you will be glad to know that your biggest enemy now has cancer
(Man to woman in Kroger's parking lot on Easter Sunday)

I'll call you.  (Visitor leaving a resident's room, already in the hallway and  headed back into the world outside the nursing home)

Help!  (Repeatedly coming from a room across the hall in the nursing home)

I am done talking about this. I don't want to be your friend.  I don't want you to be my friend...  I don't care what you call me.  (Phone conversation outside H and R Block as I was walking in to have my taxes done.)

Do you want a piggy-back ride? (Coming from a room  across from my dad's in the nursing home.)

This one really puzzles me--- I had seen a dog go down the hall earlier.  No children. The only folks in the room seemed to be the visitor and resident, an extremely large woman attached to an oxygen tank and tube. 

So who was offering a piggy-back ride?  To whom?

Oh, they let a little kid in here--that's a little kid. (Nursing home resident referring to me, after I said Hi as I was passing by her room. 

I was the only one in the entire hall so she had to be talking about me. I chuckled to myself at this one.

You are still not a problem.  Are you campaigning?  ( I guess you had to hear to beginning of this one. I didn't. This was repeated each time a new glitch arose in the even-exchange plus-add- a-new-purchase procedure that was under way as I joined the checkout line in my favorite clothing store.) 

Meantime, I waited while this continued and more and more people helped the "not problem."

We have eyes and do not see. We have ears and do not hear. (Spoken by the one sky cap to another at the airport as a lady asking the whereabouts of the door to enter, had walked right by it on her way over to them)

Do you need to get by me?  (A lady in the aisle of the airplane getting into the overhead bin as a long line of folks were returning from the bathroom.)

Ma'am, you will have to sit down(Flight attendant with hand on the shoulders of a lady who had roamed the aisles for about 30 minutes"looking for her luggage" as we were about to land.)

I told you I would get the car. (Woman to a man bent over on the sidewalk. Was he sick? Once he straightened up there was lots of yelling--words indistinguishable --and they continued down the street. They stopped once more, while he sat on a large rock.  Once they continued down the street I lost sight of them.)

I keep lists of  memorable, odd, funny,  disconnected fragments that I overhear.  

I usually plan to use them in poems, in writing prompts or other pieces of writing. 
Sometimes I actually do. 
Or other times I compose poems of just the overheard lines.
Still other times I just record them because they beg to be recorded.

These fragments  tell a story.  It is up to us to recognize, discover,  or create the story.

Overheard at Kenyon from The Kenyon Thrill gives us a fun peak at conversations taking place on one of my favorite campuses.  Click here for a listing of all the Overheard at Kenyon Columns to date.

A quick search on the Google will also reveal several other Overheard sites--Overheard in New York, the Beach, the Office and so on.  

Caveat: Language for these sites is recorded exactly as heard, and may sometimes be a bit raw, racy, or explicit---not always appropriate for young people.

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Listen today.  

Listen to what people around you are saying to each other or speaking into their phones or muttering to themselves.

What do the snatches of conversation  that you  overhear mean?
What stories can you infer?
What stories are behind the words spoken in your hearing?

You may want to arrange your overheard  lines into poem.

You may want to write the back story of one or two of the lines.

What did you learn about people as you listened today? 

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