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The Professor Speaks Alone

One of those 1:30 am poems that burgeon from a random phrase entering your head. You try to ignore the phrase and focus on sleep, but the phrase seems to gain importance as you repeat it, and you know you won’t remember it in the morning. You sigh, turn on your bedside lamp, and grab a notebook — decorating the lines above and below the phrase until you have a poem and only five remaining hours before your alarm goes off.

My first image is that of a professor,

Teaching kids in a playroom, not a classroom,

While you look on with admiration,

A die from Risk in your sinister hand.

‘How do you tell a true war story?’

I ask my students,

Already knowing the answer,

Which makes this rhetorical:

You don’t, you write your own fiction

To fill in the blank in your heart or brain,

Because nothing’s fair in love or war.

Kind of like the die itself — roll once,

And there’s only you; roll more and

Find yourself multiplied in five

Other manifestations, more dots

And weaker constellations. I think

The North Star is mainly a trick

Of the mind, like Venus, a beacon

Of love veiled in the fabric of lust.

A funny thing about lust —

Its anagram is basically a synonym

For a false war story, the protagonist

Of which sells himself short in battle

To fictionalize an image of love,

When the true love lives outside

The soldier’s text in memory

That can’t be defeated, yet manages

To mark itself “present”

In a classroom that is not a playroom.



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