The drunken pen

Written by: James Tate


The drunken pen dips and swerves around curves on paper. Paper for the purpose of writing things—thoughts a pen brings. My cursive swings, wild and loopy. Oops! Too loopy. Took that curve too fast, ran plumb off the paper. And even worse, it spilled the paper bag stuff. Never mind, at last I’m back on track with my pin head thoughts staggering drunkenly. Thoughts bound to be zingers and sell like mad—good, mediocre or sad. Gutenberg would’ve loved to have my flowing ink, when I’m sober. When my ink stops running my master shakes me vigorously. I hate that! He’s searching for a lead, but there’s no need to be in a hurry.  Like at the bank, hurry up and wait. Another line is moving—better get over there, little time to spare. Ahh! Much better. But now the lady ahead is searching her purse for paraphernalia, like an I D? I have no idee what. I’ll throw away the calendar; put this pen in reverse when this woman starts looking for a pencil in her purse. Look! The other line is now the shortest; should’ve stayed in it. Come on! Ain’t there no justice? I’m crowding her now, staggering unashamedly, a need showing up in me. If my pen stains her blouse I could get thrown out of the house, but pens don’t know no better, we just stick to the letter, and take a nip every now and then. One more jigger, then I can figger how to scribble again. Bettcha my master will like that.