On the Termination of Professor

All the tenured others have a name,
but he had transcended delimiters
and his surname became what was
for others simply a title – Professor.

Such was his reputation, amassed
over years of walks across the quad,
tattered tweed and unkempt, thinning
hair, never so proud so as to style.

His flair was the attentive mind
of the absentminded academic, but
he knew where every scrap of paper,
book, idea, and every word rested.

The office was never neat, swept,
untouched by time even dust shunned,
a couch for naps, chairs for stacks
of papers begun and undone.

Diplomas, awards hung on a wall
hidden behind tassels, programs of
graduations long ago, and three walls
shelve-covered and book burdened.

Office hours maintained sacredly
but scarcely attended but for a few;
puzzling and time passed to most,
sought and honored by only some.

Matter of fact questions earned the
reply of a tale, legend, story to explain
the unexplainable why ; every plea for
a story earned a who-what-when-where.

His time had passed, but he stood still
convinced that learning was progress
granted the guarantee of title his battle
was now one of perceived value.

Once freshman seminar his load,
now only electives and covering
for sabbaticals of the young, restless
who used post- in journal submissions.

Post-tenure review was the remedy
from a utilitarian board in the know,
failing to manage an unsustainable shift
from Professor to professionals.

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Disclaimer

Make no mistake,
I am not real, I am
but a fictional character,
and any resemblance
to actual persons,
living in real places,
doing true and
meaningful things,
whether living or dead,
is entirely coincidental;
I am a work of
creative imagination
for whom words,
locales, events such as
expressions of affection,
comforting phrases,
apologies, and even
promises,
are the products
literary prose
for the purpose of
entertainment and
resemblances to
real life are to be
construed
fictiously.

A Mother’s Son

When I was a boy, I was a boy
and this exasperated everyone
but my mother,
for she understood the ways of boys
and I was her third, with her own three
older brothers; her patience
was limitless,
or so I thought until I tried to become a man,
failed, but refused to admit failure
and discovered we were both navigating and
negotiating a new way together; for each
boy is alike, but boys become men differently.

Ketchum

Every writer wishes,
wishes they would have
known Hemingway, at
least for a day, sometime
after Old Man and the
Sea and before the Clinic,
between young, pure
desire and the paranoid
cynic; but not in Africa
for when that story’s
told the pain of failed
flights get’s old and
undoes the personality
of liquor, staccato and
brevity; oh Ernest, what
had become that was
undone at Ketchum.

Weeds of War

After each cool night
and every warm morn
dew drunk and eager to mock
my weeds are waiting for me.

From my kitchen window
across the greening lawn
they choke my fruit blooms
mocking my efforted rows.

Uncultivated, unrelenting
stubborn to their roots
I’m left to battle my nemesis
with these bare hands.

Too swiftly they recover,
too eagerly they convalesce,
and shoot past stake, pole and string
to race toward the sun.

I have failed my training,
become trapped in this war,
as Sun-Tzu mocks my ignorance
for weed is but wild-flower.

Six Word Stories

six word storyThe legend is about Hemmingway
and therefore it takes place in a bar
over drinks (always plural) and a bet
whether he could write a story in six
words, six words, no more, no less.
This is Hemmingway, for godsake
of narrow minds, narrower streets!
Mr. write drunk; edit sober himself;
making economy and understatement
economical and understated.
Six word might be two too many,
as in “To hell, with luck.”
Or just the one if he goes with
“Courage is grace under pressure.”
But ‘You’re beautiful, like a may fly’
meets the expectation, just barely,
and I can imagine its usefulness.
No one knows how many drinks
it took to come up with the winner:
‘For sale, baby shoes, never used’
and damn if it doesn’t make me cry.

Illumination

Morning’s gloom,
unwanted for a wannabe
but an aspiring scholar
greeted in his musty,
book-filled room
quietly rejoices to see
air for upturned collar
and studious honesty.

Tucked in a nook,
table for many pages
serves as an altar
and he the priest
of saints who took
pen from far ages
composing a psalter
of knowledge leased.

Murkiness around
every shelves’ stack,
drawing down editions
of obscure vexation
to others here bound
but he has a knack
for in these conditions
he finds illumination.

Our Once Upon a Time

In our once upon a time
we had spells to linger and
entwine our fingers in a
web as we gladly persisted
against all convenience
of freedom. Before all we
call our lives now – do you
remember – how we weren’t
always going somewhere,
and if we were it was an
adventure shared first
together? It couldn’t be
frozen in a globe for we
would have melted the
ice with our simple kisses
and giggled at the puddles
we’d made. Some languish
in idyllic moments, others
perish in pursuit of the
clarity they once perceived,
and still some have yet to
reach their paradise, but
we’ve found balanceless
pleasure holding life
loosely, refusing ire’s
gravity and rising with
love’s determination to
remember why we do.

Living in the Shadow of Narcissius

Mirror“The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

What’s a pronoun?

That’s simple: a pronoun replaces a noun to make sentences less cumbersome.

(This would be a good place for an example, but that would be cumbersome.)

So let’s move on.

What’s a personal pronoun?

It’s how we talk about ourselves, each other and others. That’s simple enough.

Personal pronouns refer to person(s) that act as the subject.

And acting as the subject sounds important… it sounds empowering… doesn’t it?

We all like to feel important. That’s why moms and sometimes dads, teachers and some counselors told us, over and over again—how special we were. And we believe them… for a while at least.

But that stops, or at least it should stop.

If it doesn’t stop it’s called narcissism—a personality disorder more and more common among adolescents and adults. Maybe we didn’t learn how to negotiate the adjustment to adulthood, or maybe we believed all the pep-talks of childhood. But somewhere along the way we lost our way.

Narcissism is the trait of vanity, conceit and selfishness. (Now it sounds familiar, right?) It’s what’s wrong with us if we think the world and everyone in it should talk to us like our mama’s once did.

And if we don’t get over ourselves we become our own worst enemy.

In Greek mythology Narcissus was a self-absorbed young hunter from Thespiae in Boeotia. Some might not think it fair that poor Narcissus earned such a bad reputation because he was, in fact, beautiful. But he was also so proud of himself that he felt contempt for those who showed him love.

Sounds familiar, right?

From Narcissus we’ve either learned so much or learned to become so much. It’s hard to figure out whether we’ve become ourselves or we’re just being typical.

Narcissists are shameless, twisting themselves into perfection by distorting others, in arrogance degrading others for self-elevation; envying others because they’re entitled, exaggerating and bragging achievements without regret or gratitude.

How many narcissists does it take to change a light bulb? Just one. He holds the bulb while the world revolves around him.

And it’s common. Too common.

Everyone knew this about Narcissus but no one knew how to give him what he deserved. Except for Nemesis (in Greek her name means to give what is deserved, and we use the word nemesis to mean enemy—what’s deserved and our enemy are the same thing).

Nemesis made sure pretty boy got what he deserved. She led him a pool of water where he saw his own reflection and fell in love with what he saw. But he didn’t realize it was just his reflection.

This would be the right time to ask about looking in mirrors. They tell the truth and won’t lie to us; it’s what we see in them that makes the difference.

So let’s do it; look in a mirror.

If someone else is watching, and we don’t make it quick, what will others think?

Who cares?

It’s time to look ourselves in the mirror while others are watching.

And not care.

Narcissus was not only told how special he was, he believed it in the worst way possible.

He was trapped by his own reflection and was condemned to spend the rest of his days admiring his own reflection in the pool.

Narcissus was condemned by the first person singular—himself.

Narcissus only cared about Narcissus.

So let’s look in the mirror.

Can we see more than our own reflection?

Can we see a different pronoun than Narcissus saw?

What’s our pronoun?

What’s more than more…

There isn’t always, always more
to season’s joys or love’s embrace
to mothers’ love or men’s war
there isn’t always, always grace.

When what’s lost is lost indeed
not misplaced but put away
not forgot but must concede
when what’s not stolen is gone today.

To do what’s asked, asked of one,
with true design, studied course
with stoic aspect, end undone
to do without will, without remorse.

Life entombed, entombed unbound,
this coward bent and now crushed,
this hero followed and crowned,
life unearthed, death hushed.

There isn’t always, always more
when the promised one, only one
when none are left, left but for
there isn’t always, always none.