Monday, July 25, 2011


Before dawn
the instruments of my career
spill out of my case
onto the floor
of my den.

It has been
months since I was in
the classroom,
and only now I have
begun to plan for
autumn's return.

But on the floor
are pens, textbooks,
grade sheets,
a syllabus in need
of polish or fertilizer.

And I think of retiring,
as I have thought of it
each year in the past three.
My wife has places for us to go,
a dream of getting to the mountains.

There is not enough space
to wrestle with my own thoughts.
The desire to teach on,
the desire to pull the cord.
Would the students be better off
without me?

Would I be better off
without them?

A career in that case, nearly,
perhaps there was another,
same brown, same clasp,
when I was a younger man
with vivid dreams of the path.

It is different,
the old days from now.
I am no longer a professor,
but a processor.
Today my students have such
little goals, little aspirations.

Just a salary bump, one said.
Just need to get a credit, another said.
Want to get into a better job, another.

Silly fantasy from my past, perhaps,
of what "it" meant,
what I went to college for,
what my profs were like,
how they stood like giants,
and how I stand squatty instead.

Dreamed, earlier,
of Mr. Chips scene at end,
but know now
that it will just be me,
a box of things,
a slow walk to the car,
and that someone with his own case
and instruments
will teach after I'm gone.

I ask my wife about mountain towns,
about the occurrences of coyotes.

And I leave my case on the floor
for tomorrow's worry.


  1. If you do pull the ripcord, just make sure there's a good golf course near your dropzone.

  2. RT, that's your best one so far. Really enjoyed it.

    I'm not there in my career yet but now I know what I might expect.

  3. Beautiful.

    That "occurrence of coyotes" line is sublime.

    Follow your heart, Richard.

  4. Poignant and beautiful. Thanks, bro.

  5. " longer a professor/but a processor."


    You know I feel your pain.

  6. What Greta said.

    Wonderful. Simply and truthfully and wistfully wonderful. Thank you.


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