Blank Pads


Taught to speak then told to be quiet,

I learned to talk and was taught to be silent,

then learned to write with no such restrictions.

Write! they said Write!     Quietly write.


Start with white and beige pads of blank paper

from the plant—my mom’s work, Moore Business Forms—

bound with bright red gum on top, the edges

cut smooth to fan against my lips the cheek,

hand-sized pages designed to be ink-lined

in a waitress-apron at a diner

but slightly off-square, unprinted, lopped ends

left at the chopper for Mom to bring home;


add pencil or pen from a coffee can,

and look like Mom when she writes a letter—

squint up and left as if trying to see thoughts

on the ceiling and walls through my eyebrows—

then, starting top left corner of the page,

draw shapes like letters scribbled into lines

that look like the words Mom sends to grandma.


Later on, the pads had built-in carbons.

When I was very young some blank pads

had a double-long page of carbon paper

that was pulled and inserted as the pad

was used. But in third grade Moore’s invented

NCR© paper, self-copying sheets;

and every scribbled page      self-published.