The Old Grey Pencil Test by Philip Burton

Mister Bentine’s room unnerved kids 
with its mess tins of needle-sharp pencils, 
big-time drawing boards, 
and war surplus French curve stencils. 
 
Heavy weaponry. I surrendered 
myself, but my drawing proved invisible. 
No, son, round up some force. 
He gave me paper on which to doodle. 
 
That’s better. Open your shoulder, 
lean down on the job. That’s a sizable  
improvement. Primary report  
claims you’re blind to any words at all?
 
As a trained interpreter of scribble 
I outrank any tea leaf reader 
and I find that you display hunger. 
One day soon     you’ll be a winner.