Wittier Word Weavers

Writers' Club of Whittier


Of Pens and Poetry

In my last blog post I wrote about Bill and his homemade pens. I thought I was done with the off-vacation topic. After all, there is only so much to write about a man and his pens, pretty as they are. I was wrong!

Now my readers want to know more about Bill’s pens–where to find them and, if money can buy happiness, buy them? As if to help me address those inquiries, Bill, pens in his pocket as usual, a notebook and several papers in his hand as usual, appears at my poetry workshop—which is unusual, something Bill never did, or shall I be more specific, hasn’t done.

He shows me his teeth when we meet–he grins.

“I like your post,” he says, perhaps to explain why he bares his fangs on me.

Ah, I reckons, pleased. Bill knows how to get to me. “So do you sell them pens?” I ask.

“I give them out as gifts,” he says to my astonishment. He really knows how to be a gentleman and a fast-moving one! But he hasn’t finished speaking. “I’m making them to give out at my next reunion.”


“Can I come?” I almost burst out, eyeing his pocket. But of course I’m too well raised to ask such a question, and not too callous enough to put Bill into a tight corner between a woman, young enough, and a fellow writer, daring and desperate enough to make her blog quota. I swallow hard and snuff my pen-desire.

Bill flashes his set of enamel again.

“You aren’t the only one approaching me,” his eyes twinkle, his newly regrown beard trembling with pride, obviously flattered.

“I attract people on the street now,” he confides, pauses, then…as if deciding to come clean with himself, adds, “with my pens.”

Ah, with his pens! It makes sense, because for a split second I think he refers to his beard, which he’s been sporting for a few months now like he used to when he was a hippie with a ring in his ear and a finger hooked to his Jeans pocket, below the wide leather belt with a brass buckle, striking a pose with his lean, mean machine like John Wayne, strutting, his shoulder-length blond hair tied in a ponytail—very alluring without the help of pens.JWaynePen

Our workshop leader delicately put an end to Bill’s ego self-stroking with a gentle reminder, “So glad you finally decide to join us.”

Bill looks at her from above the silver rims that encircle his grayish gaze. The twinkles have disappeared from the depth of his Irish soul.

“I come to observe,” he rumbles, emphasizing, “as a member-at-large. To bring back a report to the Board.”

I can see the future as he says those words. I see him pulling out one of his crafty pens, click the gun barrel, and write out in long hand: A Bards Report to the WCW Board.



Summer Crossing: a Telltale With Neither Head nor Tail

v shaped branchI meet Bill today at my critique workshop and talk a bit with him on our way out. Bill is working on his memoir, a humorous yet tender piece of work full of boyish farces and old man’s reflections.

Besides writing, Bill also makes pens, wooden pens more specifically. So it is most natural to see Bill walking about with an armpit-ful (my expression) of papers and always carrying a few pens in his shirt pocket.

Today, on top of all his usual items, he also toys with a branch of some sort, knotty with a V-shaped end. Knowing Bill, I cannot tell if the branch will be made into a writing tool or a slingshot. So I ask. Appraising the wooden stick, he gives my question some thoughts, his grayish eyes reflecting the changing patterns of his brainwaves from twinkling naughtiness to a deepening hues of pensive mood. He admits it may become a pen, mostly. And seeming to make his point more resolute, he pulls one such sample out of his pocket, saying, “My latest invention,” clicking and waving it in front of my eyes and so, without having to add anything, clearly indicating to me that it is for me to admire but not to handle.

It is a beautiful retractable pen, with a cap and end barrel made of lustrous metal and some smooth, artfully-colored material, possibly wood, for body. I express my appreciation for the chic design and, having my doubt for its usefulness, wanting to know about its practical functionality. After all, a pen isn’t any good if it’s not meant for effortless, fluid writing. Bill proudly boasts, “Of course it writes beautifully. But gun-averse folks won’t like it.”

“How so,” I ask, looking at the beautiful shape in his hand. The pen has an unusual clicker, its slender, curved shape more like a jewel. Bill explains to me that it is fashioned after a gun part, and if I am an arm connoisseur I would surely notice it.

“Then I won’t like it as much,” say I to him, laughing.

Another writer in our group catches up to us and, pointing at the odd-looking branch in Bill’s hand, says, “If I were you, I would put that away. They may place you in a home.”

Another person joins us, and after peering at the same branch, suggests, “Is that the thing they use for seeking water in the old time?”

Yet another one thinks the object may rightfully belong to a witch. Or a Navajo Indian.

And so the tales pour forth from mouth to mouth until we separate at the crossing.