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The Day the Pens Ran Dry ~ a Poem

John is a long-time poet, short fiction, and article writer. He loves story-telling and also has a Certificate in Permaculture Design.

The day the pens ran dry

The day the pens ran dry

What If ..?

Sometimes when just sitting and contemplating a “what if..?” thought pops into my head. One thing that struck me recently was, “What if the pens dried up, and computer keyboards didn’t work, so there was no longer any way to actually write?”

One positive of course would be a return to old fashioned verbal communication, and people would be no longer glued to their phones texting, but the real negative Impact would be felt by writers and other professions reliant on the written word. I suppose we would still have pencils, but maybe they also snapped on contact with paper. Would we revert back to slates or using ochre and other pigments?

Anyway, from this frivolous thought arose this poem. I hope you enjoy “The Day the Pens Ran Dry.”

Blackboard/slate board

Blackboard/slate board

The Day the Pens Ran Dry

It was just another day
The sun rose in the sky
Birds sang to greet the day
But the pens ran dry.

All the ink dried up
And would no longer flow
Writers began to stress
They would have no work to show.

All the keyboards froze as well
Computers, tablets, phones
All written words no more
Oh the cries and groans.

Now only verbal speech
No more text messages
Emails and letters defunct.

How would the world survive?
We’d have to learn new skills
Writers now orators.
Speech recognition.

All the keyboards froze as well Computers, tablets, phones

All the keyboards froze as well Computers, tablets, phones

But life carried on
Mankind always adapts
To obstacles and strife
Despite chaos and complaint.

Books became valuable
Rare collector’s items
Anything hand-written
Was almost priceless.

Poets recited
Their verses in public
A revival it seems
Which was welcomed by many.

Oral dialogue returned
People regained their voice
Relationships improved
But all writing ceased..

The day the pens ran dry.

Running Out of Ink

© 2019 John Hansen


John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on February 24, 2020:

Ok Brenda, thank you. Cheers.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on February 24, 2020:

Hi..including on poets with a voice.

Enjoy your day.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on February 09, 2020:

Yes, you are right Peggy, communication would revert to an old form. Thanks for reading.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 09, 2020:

Already written books would inevitably become more valuable. Communications would take a new form, actually an old form, and perhaps relationships would be rekindled. Something to ponder...

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 30, 2019:

Good to see you SAQIB, thank you for the fine comment. It is much appreciated.

SAQIB from HYDERABAD PAKISTAN on December 30, 2019:

Well beutiful flow in poetry. About the topic, yes Jodah.. what would really happen if all pen go dry and all computer related gadgetry also defuncts.. Then education within cave age will survive as you have highlighted ..one thing realtionship will improve...

Overall a treat to read this poem friend.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 18, 2019:

Hi Marie, thanks for the interesting comment. Telepathy indeed! Yes, I have a ton of good pens that just need refills but I never get around to that...just buy another cheap pen. Have a wonderful holiday season and New Year.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on December 18, 2019:

At that point, John, we'd be communicating telepathically. No need for written words or voice, everything would be shared in picture-thought form.

By the way, pens are ALWAYS running out of ink at this out-of-the-way farmhouse. I toss them and pick up the next one. (Usually one of them works among the jars of rarely used pens.) There was a time when one had a single good pen and purchased the necessary refills. Such respect for one's pen is long gone, it seems.

Anyway, your poem conveys a charming, fanciful idea, and I enjoyed the reading. The music on the video, though cute, wasn't quite my cup of tea.

Have a great writing day! All my blessings are being sent to you and yours for this holiday season and especially the New Year 2020!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 18, 2019:

Hi MG, yes the human race is quite adaptable so I am sure we would figure out some way of writing. It would be interesting though.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on December 18, 2019:

What an interesting thought. What if pencils were also not available? I suppose writers would still write maybe etch on bricks. What a world it would be.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 16, 2019:

Alyssa, glad this poem got you thinking. It is quite a worrying scenario...and I suggested in one of the comments that pencils would also break on contact with paper..lol. I guess there are pros and cons with every situation.

Alyssa from Ohio on December 16, 2019:

What an interesting thought. Would pencils also be gone? haha! I kid.. I would be very upset, as I always have a pen and paper with me wherever I go and my kitchen counter is littered with my writing on index cards. But your lovely poem presents a beautiful optimism.. books becoming valuable and precious again, the return of oral tradition.. maybe sitting around a fire and telling stories of history..? You've sparked some inspiration in me my friend. :)

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 13, 2019:

Hi Devika, yes, I admit it is a pretty scary thought.

Devika Primic on December 13, 2019:

Hi Jodah makes me wonder as well and your good poetry got me thinking of such days. It is unimaginable!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 11, 2019:

I am glad you found this scenario thought-provoking, Linda. It certainly would force a lot of change and readopting other methods of communication.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 10, 2019:

Your poem discusses a thought-provoking idea. It's certainly interesting to think about what the world would be like if the pens ran dry! I think sign language would be very useful for those with difficulty in hearing or speaking who at least partially rely on writing to communicate today.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 10, 2019:

Hi Jason, yeah a true artist would still find a way to do what they love. I need to be able to draw and write as well.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on December 10, 2019:

Interesting idea you have with this one, John.

I quite honestly dont know if people could survive without their phones texting all day...but I do believe people need to get bavk to talking with their voices.

Cute that the pencil would snap on contact to paper.

The thought of writing becoming priceless is a nice one.

Great write.

Jason Nicolosi from AZ on December 10, 2019:

Great poem John. All I know is I find a way to draw. I'd be like a caveman using charcoal and mud. Nothing would stop me from being creative. I have to draw and write. So I'd find a way to get by somehow. Ha ha.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 10, 2019:

Thanks for reflecting, manatita

manatita44 from london on December 10, 2019:

A bit like the Day The Earth Stood Still. Don't know really, just reminded me of the title, that's all.

It may be useful to recall some things, but the new era is set in stone and will continue apace, methinks. Great bit of reflection though

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 09, 2019:

Life would change in probably more ways than we can imagine if this were to occur Kathy. You are right that the keeping of historical records would become very difficult. Thank you for reading.

Kathy Henderson from Pa on December 09, 2019:

So true, in some ways it would be awesome for verbal interaction to focus again. But what a horribly sad day it would be and this thought saddens me. I would imagine it similar to the book burnings of the past only everything would change. Especially the limiting of historical records of life it would be as if time stood still.

Geat Poem!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 09, 2019:

Yes, Stive. I am sure the telegraph, Morse code and sign language would be brought back into regular use if need be.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 09, 2019:

Thanks for sharing that MizB, Yes, this scenario could lead to what you describe. It is rather scary.

Stive Smyth from Philippines on December 09, 2019:

Extreme thoughts John but a nice read. Back also perhaps to the old telegraph and flashing lights with morse code. Or perhaps sign language too?

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on December 09, 2019:

John, your poem reminds me of a series of books I read years ago. After the loss of technology, by the third generation the people were living in a tribal society with clans, riding animals, no running water and electricity, and, just think, no modern medicines. The thought is just horrifying because it isn't just the pens and computers. But your poetry is good.

Suzie from Carson City on December 09, 2019:

Yeah Jodah....but that's what I'm talking about!!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 09, 2019:

Paula, sorry to put this nasty possibility into your head. I should have labled it a “horror tale.” Hope you find your “to do” list. Maybe the first item on it should be “look for to do list.”

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 09, 2019:

Ruby, I am glad this was thought provoking, but like you I hope nothing like this ever happens.

Suzie from Carson City on December 09, 2019:

Jodah,,,,what an utter disaster it would be!! I can't bear to even think such a horrible event! My entire life would come to a stand-still if I didn't have my daily"To-Do list!!! (On the days when I can find where I put it!!)

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 09, 2019:

Your poem causes one to ponder what if? I'm not sure if we would be happy? I can't imagine a day without my computer, but I'm sure we'd adapt. The thought of handwriting a letter is not a happy thought. I loved your words of the poem and it does make one wonder.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 09, 2019:

Thanks MsDora, yes there is good and bad in every situation. Glad you liked this.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 09, 2019:

Shauna you make excellent points. Your comment actually makes me feel better...”the pen will never die.”

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 09, 2019:

Yes, Linda, oral story telling would become very important once again. It is through that dance and painting that the Australian Aboriginal people passed down there Dreamtime stories etc for they had no written language. I would be much happier not hearing news from around the world..in fact I rarely watch it. Thanks for reading.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 09, 2019:

Thanks for sharing that Elijah, those ill be scary times and I hope I’m no longer around. Maybe my poem is some sort of prophesy too. Glad you enjoyed reading it.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 09, 2019:

So it was a good day after all! Look what it takes to restore communication and connectedness, especially among writers! I like the poem.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on December 09, 2019:

I suppose raconteurs could take over passing stories down through the generations, but would that ensure preservation? The written word is not only a learning tool, proof of legacies, a means for escaping to places unknown but a vehicle for immortalizing the author.

The pen will never die, nor will the music. For without them, life would be dull at best.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on December 09, 2019:

John, folklore, the telling of tales goes back centuries and it's become a lost art. I know very few people who are actually good storytellers (there's a difference between writing and speaking).

Would we be happier if we didn't hear all the news from around the world? Hmmm, now there's a thought.

Elijah A Alexander Jr from Washington DC on December 09, 2019:

By my vision, John, not as you explained it in your intro but in another way we are about to enter "the day the pens run dry". Shortly after Mystery Babylon is destroyed and all systems of control fall will leave so much discontent that the war that terminates this worlds will began. That will make everyone one of four groups, three of which will be killing anyone not from their group until no man is left standing. Then there will be no more writing until after this world return during the middle 84,000 of the 98,00 years before this returns. In the system developed then man will have photographic memory of all observations including mind to mind communications.

Those who never consider there's a cycle to civilization and what happens during this and the next one is exactly the same with the exception that the individual life-forces will be in different positions.

I enjoyed the reading, my friend.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 09, 2019:

Haha Bill, this scenario would be quite a horror story for a writer I agree. But it is purely a figment of my imagination thank goodness. I hope it is anyway.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 09, 2019:

Shame on your for even suggesting such a thing, John!!!! You sent a cold shiver down my spine.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 09, 2019:

Haha Becky, thanks for the offer to use your sand. Also, thanks for reading this.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 09, 2019:

Yes, Eric, where there is a will there is a way. Crayons would work. I rarely use my phone to send sms texts but Facebook messenger gets a bit of use.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on December 09, 2019:

There is always writing in the sand and making clay casts of it. So many ways to communicate in writing. I have a huge patch of sand in my yard for any interested. Bring good soil to replace it please.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on December 09, 2019:

That texting thing constantly is a very strange thing. I just looked. I am about at 2 a day. Gabe is at three. He has to tell his mom we are home safe from school, finished stuff and that we are going to bed.

That is OK to me. I got no problem going with crayons.

Finishing up a letter to a sister in pencil.

This is a great poem and you never disappoint. I like the theme.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 09, 2019:

it is a scary scenario, Cheryl. Hopefully, it will never happen.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on December 09, 2019:

Great poem but s truly frightening thought.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 09, 2019:

Hey Pamela. Yes, maybe if we used all the different forms of communication in moderation so one form didn't overshadow all others. Thank you for reading and for your generous comment.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 09, 2019:

This is such an interesting thought and we would actually have to talk more with each other. That might be good for a short time. Maybe we just need to appreciate the fact that we have so many ways to communicate. I think your well-written and thought out poem is very clever.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 09, 2019:

Thanks for reading and for the interesting comment, Liz. Possibly the fact I am from Australia swayed your thinking towards sheep pens running dry due to drought. But you make a valid point that pens (biros) have been superseded to some extent by computers, email etc.

Liz Westwood from UK on December 09, 2019:

This is a well-worked through and fascinating train of thought. This poem makes valid points about communication. Interestingly, when I saw your title on its own, my first thought was sheep pens! Maybe that explains my struggles with crosswords and missing the obvious or does it show how far pens have been removed and overtaken in our daily experiences of communication?

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 09, 2019:

Hi Lora, thank you for your insightful comment. I too would hate this scenario but I thought it interesting to consider. I also thought about making it longer but I reversed the syllables per line in each stanza so it made lengthening the poem difficult. Yes, that would be the biggest plus...people speaking to and listening to each other again.

Lora Hollings on December 08, 2019:

A very interesting scenario you create here, John, in your very well crafted poem. I think it would be good to take a break from all of the technology but I certainly wouldn't want to see all pens and pencils disappear. I would be lost without the capacity to write down my thoughts and translate them to paper. I think it would be difficult for artists and composers too. But what I really loved about your poem was that people begin to speak and listen to each other again and relationships improved! If we could only do this now. We would all be better off. The emails, texts and videos have become a replacement for actually visiting others in person. No wonder so many people feel lonely today.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 08, 2019:

Thank you Lori. I would miss it too, in fact I would go crazy without being able to write, My social skills do need improving though so it would force that on me, which would be a good thing.

Lori Colbo from United States on December 08, 2019:

I love the way your mind works. What a unique topic. I personally would go crazy without the ability to write. I am a very social person so talking with people is not lacking in my life. I would simply miss it for creative expression.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 08, 2019:

Yes, I totally agree Flourish. Thanks for reading.

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 08, 2019:

For a few days it may not be such a bad thing if it meant people would actually talk to one another.

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