Jar of Pens

Sometimes the sight of them

Huddled in their cylindrical formation

Repels me: humble, erect,

Mute and expectant in their

Rinsed-out honey crock: my quiver

Of detached stingers. (Or, a bouquet

Of lies and intentions unspent.)

Pilots, drones, workers - the Queen is

Cross. Upright lodge

Of the toilworthy - gathered

At attention as though they know

All the ink in the world couldn't

Cover the first syllable

Of a heart's confusion.

This fat fountain pen wishes

In its elastic heart

That I were the farm boy

Whose illiterate father

Rescued it out of the privy

After it fell from the boy's pants:

The man digging in boots

By lanternlight, down in the pit.

Another is straining to call back

The characters of the five thousand

World languages dead since 1900,

Curlicues, fiddleheads, brushstroke

Splashes and arabesques,

Footprints of extinct species.

The father hosed down his boots

And leaving them in the barn

With his pants and shirt

Came into the kitchen,

Holding the little retrieved

Symbol of symbol-making.

O brood of line-scratchers, plastic

Scabbards of the soul, you have

Outlived the sword - talons and

Wingfeathers for the hand.