Paper is at once both the cruelest invention a writer may have stumbled across and also her salvation.
The blank page invites, often demands the pen and is unjudging, yet the poet may change or delete but the paper retains the original and throws it back in his face.
The computer, many say, changed all of that, backspace or highlight and delete and that mistake, misuse, misadventure is gone forever, but with a wrong keystroke all you may have is a blank screen and your words so well shaped, thoughts perfectly expressed can be lost in the ether.
There are nights when the song of a single cricket can pull you away from sleep. She says that she has heard that not all Angels have wings and neither of them is sure how you would know if you met a bodhisattva. He searches the mail every day, for a letter from unknown birth parents but none of the credit cards he ought to carry offers to rebate his dreams. Each night they lie back pressed to back and slip into dreams. She records hers in the journal she keeps with the pen, by the bed. He struggles to recall his and places what shards he can in the burlap sack of his memory.
First Published in Where Beach Meets Ocean, The Block Island Poetry Project, 2013
It is there waiting, no doubt another trap, simple initially seeming pure but harboring a malevolence that will soon consume you, leave you broken, so considering the pen as a weapon, to lay waste to it, or for seppuku, both thoughts will no doubt come to mind.
It has always been like this, always will, different if you chose the digital path, but only a difference in implement, the struggle, the loss, the outcome very much the same, so consistent.
Still you take up pen, stare deeply at your adversary, swear it will not defeat you this time, battle on valiantly, but finally, and yet again, painfully concede to the omnipotent abyss that today as yesterday is the pure untouched page.
Many now say the age of great literature has died, the mortal woiund inflicted by the advent of the self-correcting IBM Selecric typewriter, when words bcame evanescent, as suddenly gone as when they spilled onto the page.
Others, I count myself among them, believe the wound was not fatal, deep certainly, but yet there remains a faint pulse, ressuscitation possible with the application of utmost care. For there forbears florid phrasing in the forethoughtful flow of the fountain pen, precious and pure prose and poetry in the precise point of the Pilot pen.
Perhaps, if you happen upon this small scrap of scrip, you will see the possibility in this proposition.
With the stroke of a pen, they enabled me to write the story, gave a framework on which I could hang all manner of dreams and assumptions, inviting a search I never quite got around to making.
I wandered the beaches of Estoril in my dreams, stalked the avenues of Lisbon, looking for a familiar face, but found only ghosts.
With the stroke of a swab inside my cheek, a vial of saliva mailed, the story came apart, and a new story slowly unfolded, gone forever was Iberia, replaced by Scotland and Ireland, Wales, Norway and Germany, and my dreams were filled with the music of the bodhran and Highland pipes.
Many say that the end of the world is upon us, that we will all be replaced by electronics, but of that I have no fear, for electronics may claim to be smarter than we are, but if you’ve ever tried to interconnect or network them, you know that half of the time they will fail miserably and even in those rare cases where they work initially they will soon enough fail.
So I think I will live on, keep pad and pen at hand, and just for safety sake, a box of candles and matches.
He said the assignment is an easy one for this class, write a piece, poem or story, your choice, but focused on a single metaphor. Oh, and to make it interesting, that metaphor should be the last pet you owned or currently own, and if you’ve never been blessed with a pet, use an ocelot or a lynx.
How hard could it be, I thought, I have a cat, she will be my metaphor, and so I sat, picked up pen and paper and absolutely nothing came.
The cat watched me, heard me mutter under, I thought, my breath, then gently mewed: “Cats cannot be metaphors, you should know that, for we are unique in nature, unless of course you wish to write about God, for we know that we were created in his image.