Ode to the Yellow Pencil

Thin rectangular cylinder,
distributor of lead,
the bringer of yellow
to young eyes
grappling with consciousness
in plastic chairs.
The producer of billions of words,
millions of paragraphs,
thousands of transformative poems
lost to Puente Hills
and recycling centers
churning out more paper
for your perfect pointed tips.
And oh the joys
of your pink rotund bottom!
The glory of being able to erase
until thin metal strikes paper
and you are tossed
into an abandoned drawer.
You languish on shelves
in dusty bins
in forgotten corners
in classroom crates
where you are deemed too fat
or too inferior
because of a blunted edge.
Why have the adults
discarded you for pens?
Why has the future
replaced you with a keyboard?
Why do some break you,
throw you,
curse you,
or ignore you
when you have brought
the revolutionary alphabet
the permanence of words
the institution of grammar
and the first stroke of literature
to all men and women
of the educated world?
Number 2 pencil,
token of standardized testing,
tangible release for dreamy eyes
looking into windowed sunshine.
You are so eager to please
logos infiltrate your sides,
colorful erasers fatten your bottom,
and new blades are designed
so that you can remain forever sharp.
Oh yellow pencil,
I have seen you neatly arranged
and perfectly sharpened
in groups of six
in wooden desks
of braided girls.
But now schools are going digital.
They don’t want you
to divide decimals anymore.
Sentences are left
to finger swipes
and auto-corrections.
And when it comes to signing papers,
your greatest attribute,
you pink rotund bottom,
is precisely why you’re doomed.
You ruled elementary school
from the plains
to the mountains
to the seas,
but your reign is ending.
You may still survive
in impoverished corners
and families with 20th century values.
You may still return
to create lasting works of art.
And it is true
that young eyes still widen
when you fall into their grasp.
But it is time to move on.
We honor you,
yellow pencil,
for all that you have written,
and for the final words
you will one day write.


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