Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Sound of Poetry at Eighty Words Per Minute

Over at Author Amok this month, Laura Shovan is posting various sounds as daily writing prompts.  I finally got in on the fun yesterday with a poem in response to the sound of typing on an old typewriter.  You can find my poem "Eighty Words Per Minute" at Author Amok at

Here's my poem in case you don't want to go to Laura's blog to read it:


I learned the value of precision
in the sound of eighty words per minute,
the bell signaling each line’s end
and the left hand to action,
levering the platen’s return.
Mother could type faster, but she knew
there is a tradeoff between accuracy and speed,
with little room for margins of error.

I learned to plan ahead,
place a pencil mark near the bottom
of the sheet to know when
the last line on the page was reached.
I learned the patience and the value
of not going too fast
when replacing the ribbon,
guiding it to the other spool—
efficiency sometimes means slowing down.

I learned to love words proofreading
the legal documents she typed,
their structured forms,
their mix of English and Latin,
black and white, precision and logic
impressed onto each page
at eighty words per minute,
thousands of words now worth
more to me than any picture.

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