Thursday, August 7, 2014

"Is this my life?" That's what we're here for.

Enjoy your break while it lasts.

From College Misery, January 8, 2013

bad late-night haiku for the start of the semester

late at night, candles
flickering on the mantle,
wine in my glass, my

brain in the mud, my
soul steps closer to empty.
before i begin

to teach, i begin
to defend: my syllabus--
once a page or two--

too long to copy,
off to the printers. like the
urban mockingbird,

who nightly sings the
song of cell phones, garage door
openers, and car

horns distinctive and
varied, my poor syllabus
repeats its three-note

pleas, its legalese,
its tape-looped instructions, all
to be heard above

noise not worth hearing
anyway.  longer, louder,
over and over,

binding and airless,
lacking the mockingbird's art
while plagiarizing

his technique.  meanwhile,
the emails roll in, grubbing
for last semester's

grades or last-minute
begging for overrides, none
of it inspiring

any kind of song
from me beyond this frequent
refrain: where is that

wine?  is this my life?
a three-note song, repeated
louder and longer

each year and without
artistry.  i remember
a late-night walk in

d.c., a song so
lovely and strange that i stopped
to find its source, a

mockingbird, its voice
so loud and beautiful, at
times odd but always

persistent, always
innovating.  if i had
the ability

to adapt to these
times, i would still need to sing
a repetitious

tune, but i'd repeat
the beauty and the whimsy
and the garage doors

and the jackhammers--
the necessary music
and not merely the

noise required to
construct a syllabus or
life in three small notes. 


  1. Mockingbirds songs are, indeed, lovely, and innovative. I remember the early-summer week during grad school I spent living in my late grandmother's house, beginning to sort through her belongings. It was a stone house, un-airconditioned but located in a reasonably temperate climate, and I slept with the windows open, listening to a mockingbird singing from the yew hedge every night.

    1. But I think that was a more suburban mockingbird (although it was technically within the city limits).