Poem Collection of Three: My Utensil

Writing Without Writing

A pen between my fingers
Between my index finger and thumb
Serves as a brain when my mind is far away
Taking a pen out of my hand is like unplugging ear phones to an ipod
The music stops
I stop
I look around
I read but I think of other things while I read
I stare
I look at and not into
And around and not through
Avoiding questions, not because I am reticent
But because I am gone
Even if this pen sits in the palm of my hand, motionless
It still makes me think.
It is as if knowing that this plastic tool can write, makes me able to think
It is writing without writing
Even when they tell us to put our pens down and listen, I still hold it.
I roll it around in my hand
And let the tip speck my thumb blue
I prefer blue
Blue because it is not black
black says too much and too little
And black is always
And never
And nothing in between
Put Your Pencil Down
Put your pencil down
Close your notebook
Sit back
Shut your eyes
As her quiet voice continues to tickle my ears,
Irritated,
I begin to bite my lips and pull out strands of hair
One after the other
It doesn’t stop and I feel as though I am sitting in the waiting room of a nursery school when her voice becomes a song, and a clap and a big circle of babies and mommies.
My notebook is sitting right there
In front of me,
Partially propped open by the pen stuck in the middle
Middle, middle, monkey in the middle
Chant the children on the roof of the schoolhouse
As more and more children gather around to watch the game, I feel her vibrating voice almost touching me.
Her fingers wiggle onto my desk and pull the pen out of the book
Book, book, story time story, cry the kids in a circle on a rug in a room with the lights set dim,
and the nap mats out and the squeaking, rattling toys, tucked under their arms
I CAN’T SIT STILL FOR THIS LONG!
Listening to this teacher go on with something she claims to relieve stress
Stress what stress?
I’m never stressed
I’m stressed right now that my pen is missing and my fingers aren’t moving
Because I need to move my fingers
I need to open my eyes
And see,
See the backs of heads, and the edges of books and bags and
Waxed floors and even watch the dust float up from the eraser when she taps it against the chalkboard
Man, I am bored
Shifting positions doesn’t help because I am trapped in the circle of mommies and babies singing and clapping
and winding up the jack in a box and letting it burst and laugh and cause kids to cry
Crying, crying, tears rolling down cheeks
And juice dripping out of bendy straws
And she wants the red one but so does he
So they argue and argue until Mrs….
MRS. Teacher comes over and…
Takes my notebook away.
Does she see me when I open my eyes to glimpse at my lonely notebook
Can she hear me reciting this poem?
Now that they are both gone, all I have left to do is listen to what she is actually saying.
Saying, speaking, lecturing, preaching
None of the above
She is humming while whispering
And snapping to a beat
Beat, feet, a thousand little feet
Stampeding onto the roof of the school
He rips off her shoe and pulls out its lace and runs
She chases him, begging him, eventually giving up and kneeling down to him for her shoe and the lace that was once weaved ever so perfectly up the tongue and tied at the top in a bow that could never be made again.
And I will never have my pen again
Well I might, but it wont feel the same
Because the rubber grip at the tip will have someone else’s sweat on it
And I will never remember the pages between which it sat
Because I didn’t have time to memorize
Because I didn’t know shed take it away
And place it in a drawer
Or a shelf in a closet
Her voice is getting smaller and softer
And slowly all I can hear is gum being unwrapped and teeth clenching down,
people opening their notebooks
clicking down on their pens
But I cannot
I am stuck
In a circle
On a rug
In a room
No Matter What
I love this pencil because it is broken
Because the eraser fell off and the tip wore down
I could sharpen it if I wanted to
But I don’t
My pencil broke in half
Each piece is as long as the distance between my thumb and pointer finger
I scotch taped the sides together
My pencil sits on my desk
bent,
bitten,
tortured
The victim of my nervous habits
I’m not afraid of anyone stealing it
You could imagine why
When our teacher gives us a test,
the others take out pointy, long, shiny pencils
But I don’t
Mine stands out among all the others
My teacher tells me to throw it out
She says it isn’t useful anymore.
But I don’t
It would be like throwing away all my knowledge
I hear the kids whisper about it
I heard them plotting to destroy it
So I simply left it out so they could
And when I found it broken to bits, I smiled at them
And knew that it was my pencil
No matter what

Charlotte Lee, Age 16, Grade 11, The Fieldston School High School, Silver Key

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