Buying Pencils

By Marc Meierkort      



Parole is a movie

about a lady & her pencils.

Celebrating life 110 years she

(quit smoking at 107 too proud

to inquire of another a light)

surrenders to this story,

such a little story,

stenciled on cereal boxes

those pencils she sells

to Van Gogh. This lady working

in her father’s little store

are 3 pennies a dozen,

each point a sunflower,

each masterpiece half a cent.

She smiles when she tells,

this story keeping the listener

unsure of its authenticity,

keeping the hook dipped

like light’s invasion upon

time; she smiles when she

tells of his storied fingers

picking at the sharpest

lead, the strongest impression

of stroke across the page.

She smiles, the stencil & a little

swerve built into what the eyes

see & he fingers them

one at a time, one at a time.

When she smiles telling

this little story, these 100 years,

this time of dried paint,

secluded minds & the way

she smiles through her smoke smiles

at squirrels & children playing

with worms, the story of she, who,

smiles seeing each yellowed world

turn around to scrape the lead

from the tips, she smiles

of his divine fingers.




Van Gogh tells its time,

one at a time, one at a time,

keeping light’s invasion stenciled

& unsure.  She surrenders the pencils,

the sharpest, the strongest

half-a-cent sunflower,

as Van Gogh tells time.


She smiles – Father’s little store,

dried these 100 years, storied

the listener.  Like a movie.  Like light.

The pencil stroke built his fingers,

eyes yellowed at the impression of divine

paint picking at 3 pennies,

a pencil’s little dozen,

sharpest at the lead,

strongest at the swerve.


Van Gogh smiles.  A proud parole

hook-dipped the authenticity, working

to inquire of a “masterpiece” –  she smiles –

from the tips, she tells a story

about little fingers & secluded pencils,

about the sharp and the strong,

about keeping Van Gogh unsure,

about sunflowers celebrating the divine.




The Page:

The strongest impression

of eyes, this little story, yellowed in

the way of light’s picking at a sunflower

playing in his storied eyes, his fingers

celebrating with worms & authenticity.

Van Gogh unsure, keeping his hook dipped.

The lady – smiles – telling of his sharpest lead.


The Film:

Van Gogh

sells her father’s little store.

The pencils.

The cereal boxes.

The storied listeners.

Each sunflower

Van Gogh sells.


The lady – smiles – through her smoke,

sees his fingers in a swerve of worms,

the hook dipped – she smiles –

one at a time, one at a time

like dried paint stenciled across

his secluded masterpiece.


About the Author

Marc Meierkort currently teaches English and Film Studies at Thornton Fractional North High School in Calumet City, IL, and has been a teacher for the past 19 years. He graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (B.S.) and National-Louis University (M.A.T.) and is currently living in the western suburbs of Chicago.

A collection of colored pencils.