500 words: The Fountain Pen Plays Hide-and-Seek

The Fountain Pen Plays Hide-and-Seek

By Richard Zowie

A few years ago, out of curiosity, I tried writing with a fountain pen. It belonged to a friend, but they let me try writing a few lines. My first efforts were messy, scratchy and barely visible on some lines, far too much ink bleeding onto the next line. But as I tried a few more lines, it seemed more natural, less awkward. This must’ve been why handwriting was so meticulous in the colonial days. You had to write slowly, so as to not waste paper and ink. Writing slow and giving time for your thoughts to flow, made for beautiful handwriting.

Today, I went to the local grocery store. I remembered they sold disposable fountain pens, so I figured I’d buy two or three. Buying just one pen doesn’t work for me: I have to buy two “backup pens” also.

As I looked, I imagined all the hand cramps Thomas Jefferson must’ve gotten as he wrote the Declaration of Independence. Despite the centuries of pen evolution, I suddenly had an obsession for a fountain pen. I imagined myself wearing black trousers, shoes, black vest with gold watch chain dangling from the button to the pocket, long-sleeved white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up. A regular steam punk. The illusion was ruined, of course, by the store’s air conditioning. Outside, it was in the low 90s. Inside, it was around 68. If you came in sweating, you were shivering from the perspiration in your shirt.

Gel pens, ballpoint pens, pencils. Papermate. Zebra. Pilot. Pentel. Ticonderoga.

As I stared at the third shelf, I noticed the fountain pens were all gone. Had some student fascinated in calligraphy discovered them and bought them all? Perhaps some lawyer who preferred only ornate pens when signing legal documents?

I guess I’ll have to try Ebay and wait a few weeks, I thought as I left the aisle. Before leaving the store, I remembered that Halloween had just ended and that I could get some good deals for next year’s Halloween. Plastic pumpkins for holding candy, perhaps even a horror film. I still loved the cheesy ones from the 1970s, the kind that were so bad they’d put five to 10 of them onto a single DVD.

When I went to the discount section to look for those items, I noticed they sold pens. The logo and contour looked familiar.

As I looked closer, I saw the triangular logo and realized this is what happened to the fountain pens. They were simply moved to the discount section. Five of them for one dollar. Before, it had been five for $3.50 each. Instead of paying almost $19, now it was all five for a dollar and change.

What a relief, I thought as I walked to my car carrying my bag. What would I write? I thought. Perhaps I should try writing a short story, or a to-do list. Or perhaps start with basics and write the phrase: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs.

Post comments here or email them to: richardzowie@gmail.com

Forget Criss Angel–Mindfreak, here’s Richard Zowie–Penfreak

What term would best describe someone who’s passionate about pens and appreciates a good writing instrument?

Some might suggest penologist, but that’s actually already taken. It refers to someone who studies the impact incarceration has on inmates.

Let’s see…Criss Angel is called Mindfreak. Perhaps Richard Zowie should be called Penfreak.

Just a thought…

Post comments here or contact Penfr–er, Richard Zowie at richardzowie@gmail.com.

Poems on pens, style, clouds, a pretty lady, odes and wisdom

9-18-2011 — Drums and Pens

In a magazine
I saw an
Elaborate
Drum kit.
Only two hands and two legs
Yet so many
Drums,
Cymbals and hi-hat.
What drums, cymbals, kick drums, hi-hat.
Why, how they are used
Depend on
The song, the tempo.
I have
Black, blue, red, purple
Papermate Profits, Silhouette Elites, 300 RTs
Zebras
And a few Parkers.
Waht, which, how, when, why
Depends on
What’s being written, how, why
And, sometimes,
It’s all up to my mood.

9-21-2011 S.E. Hinton and 60s to 70s style

When S.E. Hinton wrote
That Was Then, This Is Now,
And observed
Greasers combing their hair over their foreheads
And Socs dressing to look poor,
For me,
This 1971 observation
Captured
The transition
Of 1960s
To 1970s Style.

9-22-2011 — Dirty Clouds

Dirty billows of cotton
Fill the blue sky
How they must be having fun
As they slowly float by
Not a care in the world
Atop the world
As they look at us and observe
They lack the nerve
To leave their home
And among us roam.

9-25-2011 — The Beautiful, Unhappy Woman

The thin,
Curly blond-haired,
Blue-gray-eyed
5’5″-ish
Beautiful woman
Asks for cigarettes
Her once-medium-high voice
Now a little hoarse,
Gravelly, upper range.
She wears a ring
And her eyes
Avoid her smile.
Sometimes I wonder
If smoking
Is the result
Of that piece of metal she wears
And
Of the eyes that won’t smile.

9-25-2011 — Ode to the Ode

You always work so hard
Paying homage to others.
Now,
It’s time
For you to be recognized
I honor you, Ode.
Enjoy.

9-25-2011 — Chinese and American Wisdom

In the land called
中国,
A wise person once observed:
“Failure is the mother of success.”
Fast forward a millennia or so.
In the land called America
(Or, in 中文, 美国)
A somewhat wise writer said:
“Life is a chess match.
“Always think at least
“Ten moves ahead
“When making important decisions.”

Post comments here or e-mail them to richardzowie@gmail.com.

Poems about icicles, German and pens

Note: Any poem with just a date listed is “untitled”.

2-11-2011 — Ode to the Icicle Liberator

Why do I love

To break off icicles?

When I see them

Dangling from buildings

Clear to milky white

Smooth

Shiny

Sometimes sharp,

Sometimes blunt

They beckon me

To rescue them

To break them off

To free them

To become water again.

I break them off,

Slippery and cold,

The snap a brittle twig.

I wonder if people watch,

Laughing,

Rolling their eyes,

Shaking their heads,

Wondering why

That big-nosed guy

Acts so weird.

They assume I have a choice

And they assume wrong.

To walk past a distressed icicle

To ignore its pleas

Is to tolerate

An unreachable, insatiable itch.

As the great philosophers Hall and Oates said:

“I can’t go for that. No can do.”

A simple pleasure

Is how I see it.

 2-13-2011 — Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

“Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”

“Nein,” I’d say.

Hesitating, my choppy, slow reply:

“Ich keine spreche Deutsch.”

If not the grammar,

My American accent

Butchers the language

Of mein Urgroßvater.

I say my r’s in the soft way Americans do,

Ruff! Rrrrrr!

Instead of saying them like w’s.

The umlats ä , ö , ü

Are, well, foreign.

Why do some Germans

Say “kh” for “ch”

Others “sh” for “ch”?

Funny how a language

So closely related to English

Can sound so different.

2-13-2011 — Pens

I know many look at me

Cringing

Murmuring

Rolling their eyes

Laughing

Gossiping

Wondering why

Richard is

So obsessed

With pens.

I like being creative.

Creativity demands

Insists

Commands

Specific pens

With a specific color.

Black ink might work

For most people

But I am not most people.

I’m different.

Papermates and Zebras for me.

Black, blue, red, purple

(Not wild about green)

Make me squeal.

My fingers dance

Great writing gets done.

Richard Zowie writes poems first using pen and paper and then transfers them onto a computer for posting on his blogs. Post comments here or e-mail richardzowie@gmail.com.