Monday, September 6, 2021


 My father wore one behind his ear.

Always a short stub as if it started out

half used up. Peggy liked hers long and sharp.

She wrote in one of those notebooks

with the black and white cover

we used eighty years ago.

The pencil had to be a number two.

Maybe they were twice as good as number ones.


I was the guy who sharpened them.

The shavings brought me an inhalation of the forest

and she took it from there. Painted birds

flew off the page from reptilian roots.

She found rhizomes which led to a glade

with spears of sun as yellow as her pencil.


She made her woods an orchard or an estuary,

a rainforest or a grove. Bee-loud or hushed.

Solitary in a minion of one.

Thoreau was a pencil man with a head for graphite.

It’s safe to say he wrote his notebook by his own invention.

Peggy and I went  to Walden Pond and his cabin.  

Were there pencils? No, but his ghost still haunts

the red oak and buckthorn. 

Consider what  pencils go through

with misspellings, words morphing to their opposite

and erasures, ouch, with never a complaint or fatigue.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

They let us know their lifespan

as the pink rub-out turns pale

and their hexagon gets rounded.

It is said one pencil contains 45,000 words.

(I'll take their word for it.)

and that doesn't include all the

exclamation points on those                                                              inexhaustible Thursdays.