Shaking the Pen

Feeling like a pen with the ink in bubbles inside,

Scribbled on a piece of paper in futile attempts to put ink to page

Yet only creating ever-deeper runnels in the paper’s smooth surface

As the ink refuses to flow.

A smudge of black comes out and a feeling of relief is felt,

Yet as soon as it appears in its dark lovely line

It vanishes back into the inkless lines it had been before.

Why is it pens don’t always work when we need them?

When there’s a true need for some scholastic purpose all past creativity

Fades away.

Yet it matters little anyway; most poems written are of the nature

That I’ll share with no other living soul.

Yet somehow I do write.

I wrote tree poems before.

I wrote love poems for my dearest of the time.

I wrote poems about my confusion at life.

Some dark, some happy, but all heartfelt.

You see, the heart’s ink isn’t so easily summoned as ink to a pen-tip.

You have to, if you wish to do it literally, summon blood and put it on chordae tendineae (heart-strings),

If you wish to write.

Strike me as kind of wobbly though…

Or simply use one of those sharp little metal objects with the hooked end.

I don’t know what they’re really used for but they’d draw blood well

(And honestly remind me of those tools they used in ancient Egypt to pick out brains from mummies.)

Such a pleasant thought.

Yet the point is made, if not literally.

Bringing about poetic thought isn’t as simple as writing a random paragraph for class.

It’s difficult to an extreme when it will not flow,

Cannot be whacked on the page hard enough to draw a steady flow.

Words can be scribbled in nonsense patterns,

Hardly lyrical,

As the well dries up between splintered shatters of idea.

Yet when it flows…

You’d swear that the ink well was running over.

Someone, stop the flow, the words are far too fast.

My hands cannot keep up.

I have homework to do and I cannot stop writing.

It’s past midnight and I get up at six in the morning.

I’m writing on napkins on my lunch break because I cannot wait to get ahold of real paper.

I’m writing in the copy-room whilst running errands for my teacher-mom,

Hoping she doesn’t notice I’m not doing my physics homework,

Struck by a sudden thought.

I’m in the college library a year later, writing in a notebook between classes,

Writing so fast my handwriting falls to the wayside

And my hand starts to cramp,

Pages and pages

And pages,

Looking fiendish in my need to Get Them Out,

Oblivious to the rest of the world

Until it’s finished.

I wrap up the last line.

I sigh, look around the room.

What… there are people in this room?

My finger is stained grey from hitting the page.

I smile sheepishly at anyone who might notice

And get up to get ready for my next class,

Brushing eraser shavings off my knees,

Looking disheveled but feeling mentally pristine.


Looking back, I feel bemused with my first encounter with poetry,

The one that sparked my interest.

Sixth grade

Starting the unit

Listening to my classmates complain.

Being excited myself.

My first poem? A limerick.

 “There once was a spider

Who loved apple cider

She once made a potion

Out of red lotion

So for cookouts don’t invite her!”

I was extremely proud of myself.

And then proceeded to write this long-winded poem (an ‘epic’ I said, in limericks) about my favorite book character,

Scribbling it during recess while walking laps,

My handwriting barely legible as I excitedly discussed it

With my best friend.


Years passed. I steadily improved with gaps;

I lost it in middle school

And re-gained it my freshman year with a vengeance,

This magic, so elusive, so hauntingly beautiful.

By junior year it was a persistent part of almost every day,

Taking hold of my heart and mind.

It became my escape in college,

My shelter from the dangers of the outside world,

People, situations, mathematics, bewilderment.

I clear my mind, letting the threads of thought out,

Weaving a veil of curtains with words to shield my

Now-clear space from the storm,

The predatory dust-bunnies of doubt in my mind

Woven into the strands and now less threatening

Stretched out and seen through clear lenses.


And the little blossom that began in sixth grade

Has opened into a full-fledged flower.

Tended with care and persistence, it grows.

Forgiving like an amaryllis it lives on,

Accepting of absences due to intense work loads.

For the spark always remains there,

Just sometimes under the surface,

Ready to come back to life when it senses its need.

For while the ink pen might seem to be dead sometimes…

It never truly is.

You just have to make sure to

Dig the well

Deep enough.







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