Me and a Typewriter

It’s a cloudy Saturday morning, and my mind is humming at relatively full-strength this morning. Actually, it’s damn near bursting with ideas and desire to create (both poems and music). To further tempt me is my Brother manual typewriter, recently fitted with a new ribbon. After some wrangling yesterday, I got it installed properly. As I was working, a student dropped by to get some help on her paper. I glanced up at her, my hands stained with ink and deep in the guts of the typewriter. “Hang on just a bit,” I said, and she settled into a chair and consulted her phone. The juxtaposition was strong. But I’m no Luddite; my own smart phone was charging across the room, and I consulted YouTube to figure out how to properly install the ribbon.

Once I talked with the student and got the machine up and running, I rolled in a piece of paper and started typing. Immediately, a woman named Daisy began writing to Paul, saying she was sorry for the way things ended between them. There was some business about their summer together, how the two of them had retreated somehow for different purposes and ended up romantically entangled. Something awful happened between them, which ended their romance. I had to go teach, so I haven’t returned to Daisy and Paul. I may yet.

It’s funny how my writing voice changes instantly when I use the typewriter. I have to slow down, of course, but there’s something about the sound and feel of the typewriter that lulls my senses and sends me elsewhere. I used my grandmother’s typewriter when I was young and moved on to my mother’s electric typewriter later. I began writing in earnest when we got an Apple IIe computer, but I never forgot the feel of the typewriter.

I said I would experiment with meter in the next few poems, but the following poem isn’t metered. It’s a bit experimental, though. After I wrote it, I typed it on the typewriter. Typing that may is also a great exercise in patience and letting go of perfectionism. I made mistakes, had no way to fix them…and that was okay.

Oklahoma

Her gaze at him heated, gleamed up.
You damn, worthless sod-buster.
She quick-pondered the rifle.

Hush now, he cowboy-tutted.
You’ll be alright in a bit.
She just lusted blue sky.

They silenced through supper.
The rain danced knives
on the roof as they bolted coffee.

She flashed to misfit back home
who whispered her pretty and declared
her death if she slouched West.

typewriter poem

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