National Penmanship Day (January 23rd)

Nancy Flynn Stream of Consciousness Archive, Uncategorized 6 Comments




This in reponse to the Big Tent Poetry Prompt for this week.

Yes, indeed, there is a holiday for any and everything.  Too bad I didn’t stage a formal celebration of this day last month.  Until 2012, a poem will have to do.

Once Upon a Time Perfect Penmanship Mattered



Wallace Stevens wrote a poem
about perpetual undulation,
which may or may not mean
“the motion of a hand as it writes.”

Esther Williams once did swan dives
over my penmanship, expert cursive,
alphabetical bobbings on a choppy-line sea.
Row after row of ovals, push-pulls,
calluses from holding the pen too tight.

Different than the tap-tap of this
QWERTY keyboard even when
your fingers have been taught to find
the home row, 9th grade typewriters
with no letters on the keys.

Miss Pointek was
Our Lady of Perpetual Undulation—
She could find the middle C on that type, right
nod & our chorus of fledgling typists knew
the pangram.

Wrist-lift.     Ready.     Begin.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. 


The moon god, Thoth—body of man, head an ibis—
(aka a therianthrope, who knew?)
taught the Egyptians to write.
But wasn’t it the scritch-scratch start-stop
carve of glyphs in stone?

I’d rather
pick up my pen & stir the sleeping fire.
“Full many a gem of purest ray Full many a gem of purest ray Nine men mining in a mine
Nine men mining in a mine”—

Hand/writing, a lesson in muscular movement.

Let the penmanship tell my fate—
Mata Hari or Auntie Mame?


At the high school reunion,
a football demi-god asked
did I still have perfect writing?

Oh, that Palmer Method
was my final scripture,
last obedience to authority.
When I changed the way I wrote,
U-turn & full speed ahead
into the boys.
“Come on baby, do the locomotion with me.”

But Our Lady of Perpetual Undulation—
She could find the middle C on that type, right,
nod & our chorus of fledgling typists knew
to lift our glasses, toast, wrist-lifts ready, begin.

How quickly daft jumping zebras vex!

Nancy Flynn
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Comments 6

  1. What a wonderful verse history of word-on-paper. Factually interesting, witty and clever, and all within the structures of a poem. Loved it.

  2. This took me straight back to those convent copybook Kindergarten days. Such a pity the perfect copperplate didn’t stick. And as for learning to type! Your mantra is brilliant, and every one of these poems is spot on.

  3. Alas, a celebration not for me. Never could master those lovely loops of even oval slants. The day I met my first word processor backspace was like ice cream.

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