Thursday, August 7, 2014

I love a story with a happy ending

This is the strangest looking haiku that I've ever seen.

From College Misery, December 28, 2012.

A Visit from the Not-So-Sainted Greta

'Twas four days after Christmas, and all up in my grill
My students were stirring up messages shrill.
The grades were in days ago, calculated with care
In hopes that my students would find them all fair.

My critters were nestled all snug in my bed
While visions of contraband--you know, like forbidden human food and unattended toilet paper rolls--danced in their heads.
I was happy in jammies, in my hand a nightcap
To help counter another late afternoon nap.

When drawn to my desk, I admit epic fail.
I booted the computer to access email. 
(I cursed my old Windows; it was slow as molasses.
Hey! When did I start needing to use reading glasses?)

First I cruised Facebook to see funny photos,
Then Reddit, then Cake Wrecks, then over to Pogo.
Then finally email, and what did I find?
Many student emails, each one of them unkind.

With a small bit of vitriol, none lively, no wit,
Each student threw miniature nuclear fits.
More rapid than eagles their hatred it came,
Some hooted, some hollered, some called me rude names!

"You're terrible! Stupid! You're mean and you hate me!"
Said one student, "What gives you the license to rate me?"
"I worked so hard! How did I fail?" asked another.
Yet another one chimed, "I've complained to my mother!"

As dry leaves that before wild hurricanes fly,
These student complaints irritated my eyes.
As I fumed in my head, and I thought what to do,
Another note came in, quite out of the blue.

It arrived slightly later than all of the others,
And I almost deleted it, along with its brothers.
I cringed at the name; I remembered the lad.
His countenance always looked snarky and mad.

His eyes never twinkled, his face was so sour.
He looked like he'd never survive our one hour.
He thought that his writing was perfect and droll;
He never did smile; I lamented his soul.

The cap of a pen he chewed throughout class,
And when he spoke, spoke as though talking through glass.
He had a hard face and was trendy and skinny,
The one time he laughed, it resembled a whinny.

He looked like he needed to eat more than junk food,
And I wondered how much sugar and carbs tanked his mood.
A roll of his eye and a shake of his head,
The first day of class warned me what was ahead.

This email was vile, full of personal insults,
Ignoring his own lack of effort and results.
And laying a finger on top of one key
I jettisoned it, him, and all the other student-based tea-partying crap that cluttered my inbox, along with several useless messages from various offices around campus and some spam--with glee.

I rose to my feet and remembered my wine,
Thought fondly of bed and a hot bath and time--
Time between now and next term, time I'll take,
So Happy New Year to me, and to all, a good semester break!


  1. Strange-looking haiku or not, the break from meter/form in the second-to-last stanza -- as well as the actions it conveys -- is/are wonderful, and, immensely satisfying.

    Of course I didn't need to read this one a few days before grades are due, as I'm doing my usual juggling act to avoid either panicked emails because gradebook columns have disappeared (because I've hidden them while grading) or complaining emails because a student doesn't like the grade (s)he received for a particular assignment/final grade category. If I'm going to manage one more week of real summer vacation, I'm going to have to orchestrate a carefully-coordinated sequence of posting final grades, putting up the vacation message, and revealing the relevant gradebook columns. Maybe I should just put up the vacation message first.