Poem: The Pen Runs Dry

A life hastily written by amateurs (that's us, by the way) and out of ink just when the best part is happening.

The Pen Runs Dry

Fumbling our way through life, it seems to me
is much like a series of short stories
that we insist into a novel, badly done
and the editor was out to lunch that day
Over-plotted, characters obscure and undefined
It isn’t War and Peace and we’re not Tolstoy

History will clean it up, the victors always do
well after the fact of life, a critical review
But history makes a lifetime work of censure
and won’t submit a damn thing of its own
Lived well or badly, scrawled equally across a page,
every life leaves tracks that quickly fade

They’ll scribble final Cliff Notes when we’re gone
Even then a page at most for lives lived greatly,
a mere paragraph, a sentence for the rest of us
Eighty years or so, edited to fit,
survivors listed, marriages to fill it out
A life finally boiled down like a pot run dry

But it breathed and bled through pain and fear,
it smiled and loved, this life so badly penned
The moments each and everlastingly connected
like numbered dots that form an image
and it could have, might have been a masterpiece
If only we could see the colors in bold strokes

Each of us wrote hurriedly, hands shaking, novices,
as best we could, one draft without revision
Too much paper, the dialog dashed off unrehearsed,
apprenticed with no clear need to learn the craft
Far too much to ask and yet it’s what we’re given
and all too soon the pen runs dry, too soon
Poetry Collection: The Smell of Tweed and Tobacco
This poem is included in
Jim Freeman's
poetry collection


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