Friday, May 8, 2015

Thirteen Ways of Looking at End of Semester Grading

I bring to you, precious readers, another sad parody of a wonderful poem, suitable for  the end of the semester:

Thirteen Ways of Looking at End of Semester Grading

Among twenty stacked bluebooks,   
The only moving thing   
Were the empty pages left unfilled.   

I was of weary mind,   
Like a sentence
In which there are three clichés,
But no content.   

The thesis floated across the page.   
It was but a small part of the essay.   

A pen and a professor
Are one.   
A pen and a professor and an exam  
Are one.   

I do not know which to prefer,   
The beauty of assessment   
Or the beauty of completion,   
Turning in the grades
Or just after.   

Tension filled the long hallway
With desperate requests.   
The footsteps of the students
Crossed it, to and fro.   
The mood   
Traced in flipflops
An indecipherable plea.   

O wise professors of English,   
Why do you imagine published work?   
Do you not see how the essays
Lurk around in stacks
By the coffee mugs surrounding you?   

I know noble efforts
And lucid, surprising arguments;   
But I know, too,   
That the red pen is involved   
In what I know.   

When the exam paper blew out of the window,   
It marked the end
Of one of many courses.   

At the sight of a sad dash
Filling a place meant for a comma,   
Even the teachers of poetry
Would cry out sharply.   

He drove over to campus
In a used Camry.   
Once, a fear pierced him,   
In that he mistook
The bulge in his briefcase
For ungraded exams.   

The registrar is calling.   
The final grades must be overdue.   

It was evening all afternoon.   
It was raining
And it was going to rain.   
The professor sat   
Still grading.

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