Poem of the day: pebbles

by | Apr 14, 2020 | Hammond, poetry | 5 comments

On Instagram this morning, I showed off my folding Hammond.

I got a request there to write the day’s poem on this machine.

OK! I put in a fresh ribbon, cleaned the machine, and found that a wide strip of shrink tubing worked as an impression strip. (There’s supposed to be a rubber strip that intervenes between the hammer in the back of the machine and the ribbon and type shuttle.)

Mark provided the word of the day—”pebbles”—and I got down to business.

Yikes! This was technically challenging. When a Hammond Multiplex is working perfectly, it creates an even impression on every stroke, and also allows you to switch type shuttles so that (in this case) you can type in one compact, 11cpi style, and another tiny, 14cpi style. So I thought I’d create a poem with footnotes.

This typewriter was not working perfectly, so it kept printing the wrong letter. It can be hard to see what you’re typing and find your place on the paper. The carriage also requires a lot of force to return (since you are winding a spring that has to move the carriage as well as activate the hammer). Then there’s the 3-bank keyboard. I can’t say Hammond-typing is a pleasant experience.

Well, this was the result. Edgar Allan Poe is spinning in his grave.

If you’d like to learn more about how this typewriter works, here’s a user’s manual.


  1. Bill M

    I like it. A poem with foot notes. I never tried heatshrink for the impression band. I bought one from Ebay and now make my own from old bicycle inner tubes. I have the letter problem with my Hammond. If a good cleaning of the stop rods and springs does not work I look for broken springs at the bottom of the rods. Seems they break there and the only method I found to repair them is a bit of JB Weld places where it will hold the spring and I can dig it loose should I ever need to take the machine apaprt.

  2. sansuey

    Quite fun! I am enjoying these poems!

  3. Mark

    In spite of the technical issues I love this poem. I really like the use of the word stranded, playing across languages is something I enjoy immensely!

  4. Mark

    Reading again, I think I jsut really REALLY reallyreallyreally love the first two lines. With the foreign wordplay, the rhythm, the image, they are awesome.

  5. Richard P

    I'm pleasantly surprised by your pleasure.


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