This is the First Day of the Rest of My Life.
Determined not to live it in the blue light
of a computer screen,
I grab my notebook and
what turns out to be
a leaky pen.

This is the First Day of the Rest of My Life,
but already my fingers are blotted bluer
than the dawnish morn (this being the First Day
of the Rest of My Life, I’ve gotten up early)
and I’ve smudged the down comforter
with indigo.

I tell myself that anyone who will live like I will
in this, the Rest of My Life,
will, of course, have bedclothes stained
with ink and, probably also, tea,
but that feels depressingly like
the rest of my life, that is, the spotty part that came before.

I try to block out the smudge
with my notebook–for even at the Dawn
of this energetic, disciplined, real-world Rest of My Life, I do not have the vim
to get up and wash my hands, much less
the comforter–

Rub my fingers along the white pages,
but their blue-lined grid is stolidly oblivious,
the ink already too embedded in my skin
to rub off.

A lone cow lows
out the window,
somewhere down the valley,
but beneath the same pale sky.



Here’s a sort of poem posted for two prompts–though I don’t know that it’s quite right for either.  One is from Victoria C. Slotto on dVerse Poets to write about patterns in our life; the other is Susie Clevenger’s post on With Real Toads, to use a Native American springboard–in this case, the line–“Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf.” – Tribe Unknown.  I don’t know how this came from that, but I think it arose from the idea that the big change would be just to look out the window in the morning with neither pen nor keyboard.  

The drawing above is an old one, and because in black and white, I did not include the blue smudges!  

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28 Comments on “Screen-Free”

  1. Loved the change in tone from full of optimism to a little put out by it all- and the final lines – wonderful – K

  2. brian miller Says:

    ha. nice repetitions throughout this…each new day a new day of our lives…another chance…and surely mine will be covered in a little bit of ink…and a writers life is full of those times too when we need to change the routine to re-find our rhythm….

  3. Oh, it fits the “pattern” theme perfectly, in more than one way. The repetition and the whole message. I loved the imperfection of the indigo smudges because everyday reality on everyday of life seems to be replete with those!

  4. I have ink, smudge, and days that aren’t as brightly fulfilled by my determination to change, but then I look around and see how I’m blessed and I wrap myself in the ink stains and start again the next day. I am learning to not feel guilty about the days I don’t attempt to write, the days I just hang out under the sun. We need those days. I love the honesty with which you write…The drawing fits your piece perfectly. Thanks for taking part in the challenge!

  5. I believe this is a hearkening to time forward and past – patterns plague and reassure us. Trying to break them is so difficult and sometimes not worth the bother. I picked up a pen this week and wrote in a journal for hours. I liked what I wrote. I thought I broke philosophic ground. Have no idea how I would use it in poetry or what earthly good it is to anyone but me. (smiles). Loved this piece!

  6. Jim Says:

    🙂 The rest of a life’s time grows shorter and shorter as one grows older. I hated to say that but I feel it a lot now. My hands could still use some more smudging.
    I liked this, it was a different poem. Mine too was about a time on our earth but I brought in the American Native people.
    Oh yes, I really liked the elephant in the baby bed, writing his journal. It go me wondering where the elephants put their trunks while sleeping. ??

  7. billgncs Says:

    in Chicago where I am living now, the fans of the Cubs ( a team who has not won a championship in over 100 years ) always say “wait ’till next year”. This poem made me think of how we wait, and even in hard times, tomorrow is another day.

  8. This is the First Day of the Rest of My Life… that is something to think about every morning…. I really like this poem.

  9. Jeff Says:

    Excellent–all the little stains make life interesting. Or at least, we better get used to them, because there’s no choice otherwise. That last stanza carries with it a powerful sorrow. Nicely done!

  10. very well written the idea of repeating the phrase ‘the rest of my life’ sets a pattern you explore so very well.

  11. lynndiane Says:

    I enjoy your elephant drawings, K! To spend a “screen free” day with a sketchbook sounds lovely…

  12. A day with good intentions.. I think I know that pattern. Sitting down with intentions of starting new things. Yet there is that stain, that irritating little things that make it so hard.. That last stanza with the cow grabbed my attention.. Really great contrast.

  13. Sumana Roy Says:

    ha….i heard the word leak thrice today…first saw a rickshaw puller’s leaked tyres, then my hubby’s red pen leaked & he showed me his red fingers and now your pen has the same story…but this makes our life complete..smudges and all that…love the cute elephant there and the lone cow in your lines….

  14. Steve King Says:

    I think every means of memorializing “the rest of our lives” carries with it some kind of imprecision or imperfection. It’s probably as difficult now for folks to write at length with a fountain pen as it was at first to compose on-the-fly with one of the old word processors. It’s nice that the mind can find a way to adapt to either. (I do love my Parker pen, and use it all the time now, especially for drafts…). This is interesting psychologically as well as being very polished. Nice work.
    Steve K.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thank you, Steve. I do not have a working fountain pen at the moment, but may order a cheap one on the basis of your comment and the wonderful memories it conjures up–I love fountain pens–and even the ballpoints leak, so I may as well go to the real thing. I do a huge amount of work on the computer for my job, and one gets so addicted these days–one meaning me to computer procrastination. It’s such a strange process writing–I like both pens and computers–I probably prefer pens, but I have problems with reading what I write by hand–not only with legibility but with the vision issues–so when I wrote prose especially, I tend to never get stuff transcribed and then lose or mislay the notebook–it is quite ridiculous and maddening. The great thing I find when I return to pens for poems, is that I will actually write out the entire poem again and again rather than just fidgeting with a word here and there, and that can be somewhat useful. We are so lucky to have so many choices these days. Thanks as always for your kindness. k.

  15. hedgewitch Says:

    Living without the screen–it seems almost holy, doesn’t it? I do write first in pen( a lowly ballpoint, I’m afraid) but I just scratch things out and rough them in–they never feel real till I see them blinking at me from the cyber-void now defined. A fountain pen would be an act of almost inconceivable bravery! I do love the emotions under the surface in this that are not spoken right out but remain a constant sweet whisper–how we want validity, how intention and inspiration are so separate, how patterns repeat. I also love your choice of Susie’s sayings–like the whole poem, very much a human and relatable thing, yet so hard to do, listen with a clean focus.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      I tend to use lowly ballpoints too or even lowlier pencils–but there is something wrong with the way I carry things, I think, all jammed up as even my lowly ballpoints manage to leak all over the place! I feel like I must be a dog in a secret life, chewing at the plastic. I am afraid that the screens are a part of our life, with all the good and, for those of us with an addictive nature, the bad. Glad to see you back. k.

  16. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    I just love this poem, Karin. It had me smiling all the way through, right up to the last 4 lines: What could be a more perfect ending than that?

  17. Mama Zen Says:

    I just love this to pieces!

  18. wolfsrosebud Says:

    liked how your focus was on the paper, but then in the end took us out the window toward a bigger focus of life

  19. Poet Laundry Says:

    Ooh I really like this K! The touches of humor are perfect. My “bedclothes” would get coffee stains…smiles.

  20. I love the realism of this, the pattern in how our lives turn out. Yes, my quilts show the history of my life, too. Perhaps we should use pencil instead of ink!

  21. Sara v Says:

    Love the poem and the drawing, I think it fits perfectly with the patterns of our life, how we strive to break from routine and then find that we’ve somehow rolled right back into it. Really enjoyed this 🙂

  22. MarinaSofia Says:

    This really spoke to me at this particular point in my life. I too have my notebook next to my bed and the ink smudges on my hands…

  23. grapeling Says:

    I find your final verse so effective, as you turn from the personal in each of the prior verses, to an omniscient (or at least non-identified) voice, where we can turn from sympathy for the speaker’s “I” to empathy and identification with the wistfulness of that lonesome, lowing cow. ~

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