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The Old Bum by the Lake

Updated on February 6, 2018
DzyMsLizzy profile image

A lifelong reader & writer, Liz writes poetry; articles on this, & other sites; & playing with words. She also enjoys movies & reviewing.

A Funny Memory

I wrote this poem many years after the fact as a funny memory of a visit to my cousin back in 1960 or so.

It was summer, and like many kids, we thought it would be a real hoot to see if we could stay awake all night long. We told jokes, acted goofy, snuck snacks, and did all the usual "girlie" things that kids to at a pajama party.

My cousins lived near the edge of a lake, and the nearby water caused some ground fog to form overnight. As we peered out the window, alternately opening it, and trying to force our eyeballs through the window screening, then closing it against the damp and chill (even in summer, it gets cool overnight near a lake), we honestly thought we saw something strange, alternately moving and freezing stock-still.

 C.E. Elias 9-2010
C.E. Elias 9-2010

All Night Long...

...and in the dim before dawn by the fog-crested lake,

Murky shadows and shapes weave

                 in and out of the edge of sight,

                           offering glimpses of

A lurking beast;

               boring bush;

                           old bum,

All morphing in and out of reality

              as window screen and fog

                                   conspire to deny clear focus.






All vie for the upper hand

                           in our pre-teen minds.

Sleep-deprived from trying to focus all night,

                        we envision upcoming adventure, excitement, discovery.

Disappointed when sunrise spotlights

                                                    a plain green shrub.

What Was Really Going On?

Our night-long vigil and the things we thought we saw can be attributed to a phenomenon known as pattern matrixing, in which the brain attempts to make sense of random shapes and the play of light and shadow.

Often this results in seeing things that are not really there, or mistaken identity of things that are. A couple of examples are seeing whales, poodles, castles and images of other familiar things in a cloudy sky, or in the embers of a dying campfire.

It also explains "miraculous pictures of holy figures" in places like grilled cheese sandwiches; and it is the force at work behind the famous (or perhaps infamous!) Rorschach inkblot test.

© 2010 Liz Elias


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  • DzyMsLizzy profile image

    Liz Elias 7 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi, Minnetonka Twin!

    LOL--what a hoot. Funny how strong is the power of suggestion. But I'll bet that ol' dog bone didn't smell all that good, either... ;-)

    Thanks for stopping by, and I'm glad I was able to trigger a memory of your own.

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image

    Linda Rogers 7 years ago from Minnesota

    I love that poem and it brings back memories of many times me and my buddys were freaked out by something that was nothing scary at all. I must share one memory I had when I was having a slumber party with a friend. We were in a pull out bed and the lights were low. WE both swore we saw a big pile of doggy doo doo on the top of the couch across from our bed. We even smelled it. I turned on the lights and lone behold it was just a fat dog bone with round ends on it. Talk about feeling like a fool. LOL