Amuse / Cartoons / comedy / poetry / Thoughts

Ode to the Pencil

Sorry, dear readers! Due to the general excitement of life, my serialization of Ten Days, Ten Pounds has slowed to a crawl for the now. But here’s a fresh bit of fun that will be in it when it returns to play.


Four years ago, I hosted a little Pencil Party here in Oakland, and a littler one in Rome. Somewhere in the middle I pencilled the beginnings of this finally-finished little ode:



Ode to the Pencil
by Kristen Caven

In the beginning,
before the Word,
was the blank page.

In the beginning,
before the Word,
was the Point
that Must be made.

That point led the lead
to lead a bead
of dry gray liquid
into the stark white
field of possibility:
in loops and lines,
in curves and slashes—
sketches to be inked later,
plans to be made,
inventions to be built,
love to be tenderly, daringly stated,
beauty channeled through the eyes,
cartoons pulled from pure thought.

In any language,
any form,
any idea,
on Earth or in space;
the mighty humble pencil
has its place.

O rigid twig!
Twirl through my fingers!
I doodle to think! I think to live!
Without you, I’m binary—
inked or not inked.
You are the maybe,
the why not,
the what if.

What if, indeed?
Could there be a meta-pencil
curved in space,
writing and erasing simultaneously?
Could there be an infinite pencil,
endlessly sharpened,
like the wit
of a learner?

O chewy eraser!
The original Control-Z!
In the beginning was the word
I couldn’t spell right
the first time. 

From the humblest of seeds
grows the mighty tree,
and from the mighty tree
comes a hundred thousand
sharp pencils
ready to sketch
a million future

My word! I sketch a seed.

According to, the average price of a yellow #2 pencil is about 10¢. According to this article on Treehugger, a tree can produce about 170,000 pencils. Donate to my tree-of-pencils fundraiser at Pencils of Promise!

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