Handwriting – twin pencils catch the muse

Always to hand,
ink in all its permanence
leaves its pale tattoo,
on a right-hand middle finger tip,
from a hand held fountain pen,
after washing with soap,
while leaks make for
a messy laundered pen pocket.

The capped fountain pen requires tissues,
an ink bottle of south sea blue too,
and a draw fill chamber squeezed –
inhaling ink for handwriting,
patted down for cleanliness
in a grip well above the nib
A leather shod foot to break a fall
might save the nib, if you are quick.

Graphite wood case pencil rounds,,
long handled twin pencils in hand,
from finger clamp to palm side,
pointed by an office topper,
metallic sharpener’s wood turned coils
make for dusty graphite centered shavings
caught by a sea whelk shell’s belly,
twin pencils pared, essential, if a lead breaks,
one pencil left to keep going with.

Pastel A4 paper, so the handwriting can be,
by colour, of ink or paper,
re-found on a cluttered desk top to type up.
Beech wood quartos and bamboo octavos
as writing boards, travel with me.
Filter paper scientifically blots the mess
from emotionally dry sentences,
while sea shells from beach combing
fancy goods of a stationery press
are a scouts’ tools for handwriting.

Fair copy hand typed on a keyboard
lines set for the computer and internet,
a postcard to you and your smart-phone
so as to be ready to be read,
if you have the battery charged,
and you are in the humour, to connect.

With a scouts’ obsession of having tools to hand:
for when the fickle muse calls
and words start to tumble out
some unholy time of day or night,
my trusty twin pencils pared
are always ready to write.

Howard Fox

I do not like squared paper – towards a solution to a science dilemma

Laboratory Books I need to love
on every page have squared paper –
a push away from science.
Title, abstract, introduction,
materials, methods, results,
discussion, conclusions, references
is our way.

Squares for every single letter.
Squares for every single digit.
Obsessively square control
for everything written every time,
every day in a square,
day by day, in laboratory books.

My love of digits in squares faded
with childhood mathematical prowess.
Now I could not do a budget
to save a single round cent,
yet I need to love squares again
to get some science done.

I think I am finding a way.
1000 questions in long hand
writing across square boundaries
as if they do not box me in.
Angle the page so as my hand
follows a horizontal sometime.
Write on every second line
for a page at least.

Are the problems real? The trauma is.

An unethical pharmacology demonstration
in a graph on squared paper
displaying after injection the last of a life.
Traumatic physics assignments,
of metallic springs stretched
beyond their design load.
Laboratory Book marking
turned me to botany,
and on to vegetation quadrats
standing in squares recording plants.
Geographic co-ordinates are
squares set on arcs on the celestial round,
squares undermined by cadastral appeal.

The scientific solution is to add
a compass with pencil arcs
to turn squared paper on the lathe to beauty.
Arcs and curves, sine waves and parabolas –
squares inhibit, if you do not love them.
Rekindle that spirit of botanical inquisition
to understand, model and represent.

Build that scientific model
from the materials to hand
of some phenomenon in the world.
Back of an envelope, they say,
Why not the herbarium folded packet
Latin name, plant geography, date, collector.

Find your voice, find your style,
let your laboratory book be
your window on to that inquisitive life.
For the love of squares, with a compass then,
create arcs of roundness,
and a few tweaks here and now,
terms of reference, ethical concerns,
why this science is good for society,
and why it is right for us to do.
Masking tape to add notes culled from
notes written in undisciplined places,
until I like squared paper in the
Laboratory Books I need to love.