The Deterioration of My Handwriting

I got a D in handwriting in the third grade.
I’m an old man now.
That failure continues to haunt me.

I saved all the letters from girls who said they loved me.
As I look back on them, I can tell the ones I liked
by the handwriting alone.

When that girl from Princeton Junction drew hearts to dot her “i”s,
I lost interest immediately.
I also hated her large loopy cursive.

Tiny precise script in real ink on elegant paper
gave me deep pleasure,
not scent, sealing wax, color or watermark.

As I became a man, I worked on improving my handwriting.
Its sloppiness infuriated me.
It was too revelatory.

I stopped writing letters on pilfered bank deposit slips.
I sprung for better pens.
I adjusted my thinking to maximize the purity of my hand.

The better my handwriting got, the straighter I stood.
I filled a thousand avid notebooks. I took a mistress.
My handwriting became my immaculate paramour.

But recently I’ve noticed I can no longer hold a pen with brash
panache. My journals have become slapdash
embarrassments. I open them to random

ugliness. I don’t have the solace of the integrity of the handwritten
alphabet. Sterile emails in obvious fonts assail me.
I don’t fall in love anymore.

I wish my hands could still carve the cuneiform of beauty
on the waxy emptiness of thought, but all that’s left me.
What is left me? The precise boredom of processing processed keys.

Previously published in Angelic Dynamo.

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Bill Yarrow, poetry editor at THIS Literary Magazine, is the author of Pointed Sentences (BlazeVOX, 2012). His poems have appeared in many magazines including [PANK], Poetry International, DIAGRAM, and BLIP.

Object(s) to bring back to life: “1. The hiking boots I wore in college; 2. Two letters I mailed to Birmingham, England; 3. The faux oriental rug we bought in Evanston and carried to Queens and back again; 4. The February 1974 gelato I tasted in Florence; 5. My children’s baby teeth; 6. What I used to know. I have everything else I want.”

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