Life as a Pencil

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I have always wanted to work in a pencil factory

like Henry David Thoreau.

I could draw inspiration from my work each day,

pencil in appointments with imaginary friends

during coffee breaks or smokos.

Do they still have smokos by the way?

‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ but what about

the pencil?  & which one?

2B or not 2B? Hamlet famously dithered just after

he had asked Ophelia [ in an earlier draft of the play ]

to come and look at his etchings and she had refused.

I may not be the sharpest pencil in the box but I still

want to make my mark upon the world.

 

 

* can you think of other lines for this poem?

* have you ever written an object poem? The opening lines are so important; would you like  to share a few lines — or the whole poem — with us here?

 

  • pic courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Fragile Dennis

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I think of fragile Dennis when someone needles me,

and toughen up.

He let the jibes get to him;

He closed down the fun house of his world view,

changed his clown shoes for cement boots.

He was heavy as Hamlet,

became prickly

& wouldn’t read his wonderfully quirky poems out any more

because people were telling him,

they were weak.

They were a little childish but

they weren’t weak.

Poets are supposed to care for each other.

I wish some people would close up like zippers.

There’s Just One Problem

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I would like a copy of Amy Hempel’s Collected Short Stories please.

I’ll just do a quick search, she says.  Good news, We have a copy in the system. One copy. We can get it from the Burnside library.

That’s great.

There’s only one problem.

What’s that?

Did you learn any foreign languages at school?

French, Spanish, a spattering of German. Why?

How about Croatian?

Pardon?

The only copy we have is in Croatian.

How did that even happen? I ask.

God only knows. Do you know any Croatian?

My cleaner comes from Montenegro. He taught me a few swear words. Does that count?

Not really, she says. You could do a crash course in Croatian.

No thanks. I’ll wait till there’s an English version.

It could be a while. This version came out in ’96.

Have you got anything else by Amy Hempel? I say. In English.

 

  • have you ever encountered an unusual problem in the library?
  • can you speak Croatian? are you one of the readers of that Amy Hempel book?

 

  • photo by Jakub Arbet from Unsplash

 

 

Running Jump

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What seems to be the trouble? he asks .

I cough and splutter all over the place.

He gets the message.

Sits down to write the certificate.

There, he says , handing the form to me . This should do the trick.

I peruse it quickly.

There’s something missing.

You haven’t written down the illness, I say . Why I had time off.

That’s right. If you had Alzheimer’s or a social disease would you want people to know?

Certainly not.

My point exactly.

But I thought you had to put something down.

No, he says . And if they ask, tell them to take a running jump . Better still, tell them to phone me and I’ll tell them to take a running jump . Only in stronger terms.

He stands up. Shakes my hand.

 

The next day at work I hand in the certificate.

The doc’s right .

They see the blank space but no one says a word.

I push it a bit further.

On the official form, the one you fill out yourself, where it says ‘Illness’ I put down ‘See Certificate’ .

It feels good. It really does .

I’ve found a new way to treat with the world.

Awaiting the Verdict

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From across the room

my eyeball

Eyeballed me on the 10 inch screen,

It’s tracery of veins

A network of canals, the orange-red sphere

the red planet

With a bright yellow centre.

 

Now, said the ophthalmologist,

 Pointing out the dark smudges across its surface

Let’s look for signs of cataracts

And macular degeneration.

She eyed my eyeball closely.

 

I sat forward and awaited the verdict.

 

* photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

You Wear Me Out

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You wear me out.

You really do.

With your constant tap, tap, tapping.

Can’t you give it a rest?

Try other keys?

What about the ‘Q’?

Or the ‘Z’ or the ‘T’?

Not a wear mark upon them.

And what about the ‘B’?

My poor little ‘A’ is totally erased.

And ‘E’ and ‘C’ are not far behind.

Consider the other keys.

Pay them some mind..

 

Talking to Strangers at Bus Stops

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I know my mother wouldn’t have approved

but my bus was late

I was idle

and this bloke on a bike

pulled in

“to give his bum a rest”,

a privilege he did not extend

to his mouth.

I learnt about his five year bouts

with ‘the Mike Tyson of cancers’,

Prostate

& this pugnacity encompassed drug pushers,

wife beaters, power utility scammers.

He wore black like Johnny Cash,

had two brassy skeleton rings

& he strutted around like a rooster.

Still he kept me amused till the bus

came along and took me away.

I waved as he sparred with the bus shelter.