Monday, August 4, 2014

Flakes and flowers

From College Misery, June 19, 2012

bad tuesday haiku, for the coming solstice


the steady, rising
heat matches my steadily
rising ire; a cloud

of dust rises from
the patio, today's soft
breeze eliciting

more than the breezy
drafts on the table before
me manage to do.

are we doing the
right thing, attempting to teach
when summer beckons,

when every day is
better than any day last
winter?  when each of

us, so easily
distracted by the slightest
breeze, the merest hint

of motions not our
own, when even the sharpest
students dull, stricken

by june?  i study
a single sunflower camped
beneath a feeder,

the birds having kicked
its beginnings to the ground
weeks and weeks ago.

i should have chopped it
down last month, discarded its
unopened head and

long stem, mowed the spot
it's claimed and been done with it.
today, though, it nods

like a poem, less
useful than pretty, and the
heat seems to make it

yellower.  once in
a while, an essay startles
me with its perfect

prose lacking focus,
like a flower growing in
a surprising place.

today the sun and
heat intensify all of
it:  the sunflower,

the prose, the useless
endeavor before me on
the table, the hope

that rides along when
i grab the stack of essays
in spite of myself.

1 comment:

  1. I'm still out there....

    The "100 Reasons" anti-grad school website is now up to 93. Here they are:

    1. The smart people are somewhere else.
    2. Your colleagues are your competitors.
    3. Your pedigree counts.
    4. It takes a long time to finish.
    5. Graduate school is not what it used to be.
    6. Intellectual expectations are falling.
    7. Labor demands are increasing.
    8. There are very few jobs.
    9. It is very, very hard.
    10. There is a psychological cost.
    11. There is a psychological cost for quitting.
    12. Adulthood waits.
    13. Respect for the academic profession is declining.
    14. Adjuncthood awaits.
    15. Marriage and family usually wait.
    16. Where you live will be chosen for you.
    17. Funding is fleeting.
    18. Fellowships are few and far between.
    19. These are the best years of your life.
    20. Few ideas are exchanged.
    21. Graduate seminars can be unbearable.
    22. The liberal arts do not attract investment.
    23. There is a pecking order.
    24. “You are still in school?”
    25. Academe is built on pride.
    26. Some graduate students are more equal than others.
    27. The academic bubble may burst.
    28. Writing is hard.
    29. You may not start with plans to be a professor, but...
    30. You occupy a strange place in the world.
    31. There are biological consequences.
    32. The university is an economic engine.
    33. There is too much academic publishing.
    34. There is too little academic publishing.
    35. Mumbo-jumbo abounds.
    36. “So what are you going to do with that?”
    37. The university does not exist for your sake.
    38. The tyranny of the CV.
    39. You are asked to do the impossible.
    40. Faddishness prevails.
    41. Teaching is your first priority.
    42. Your workspace reflects your status.
    43. Attitudes about graduate school are changing.
    44. Advisers can be tyrants.
    45. Nice advisers can be worse.
    46. You may not finish.
    47. It requires tremendous self-discipline.
    48. The two-body problem.
    49. There are few tangible rewards.
    50. You are surrounded by graduate students.
    51. You are surrounded by undergraduates.
    52. Your adviser’s pedigree counts.
    53. Teaching assistantships.
    54. “What do you do for a living?”
    55. There are too many PhDs.
    56. Grading is miserable.
    57. Rejection is routine.
    58. The one-body problem.
    59. You pay for nothing.
    60. The tyranny of the dissertation.
    61. Unstructured time.
    62. You have no free time.
    63. Your friends pass you by.
    64. Smugness.
    65. Teaching is less and less rewarding.
    66. “Why are you studying that?”
    67. There is a star system.
    68. It is stressful.
    69. It is lonely.
    70. It is unforgiving.
    71. The tenure track is brutal.
    72. The humanities and social sciences are in trouble.
    73. Perceptions trump reality.
    74. Academic conferences.
    75. You can make more money as a schoolteacher.
    76. There is a culture of fear.
    77. It attracts the socially inept.
    78. It takes a toll on your health.
    79. The tyranny of procrastination.
    80. “When will you finish?”
    81. Comprehensive exams.
    82. Teaching is moving online.
    83. It narrows your options.
    84. The politics are vicious.
    85. It is not a ticket to the upper middle class.
    86. It is a state of being.
    87. The financial rewards are decreasing.
    88. You are not paid for what you write.
    89. Virtually no one reads what you write.
    90. Virtually no one cares about what you are doing.
    91. Downward mobility is the norm.
    92. There is a social cost.
    93. There is no getting ahead.