Friday, March 3, 2017


The Correspondence-School Instructor Says Goodbye to His Poetry Students

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Goodbye, lady in Bangor, who sent me   
snapshots of yourself, after definitely hinting   
you were beautiful; goodbye, 
Miami Beach urologist, who enclosed plain   
brown envelopes for the return of your very 
“Clinical Sonnets”; goodbye, manufacturer   
of brassieres on the Coast, whose eclogues 
give the fullest treatment in literature yet 
to the sagging breast motif; goodbye, you in San Quentin,   
who wrote, “Being German my hero is Hitler,”   
instead of “Sincerely yours,” at the end of long,   
neat-scripted letters extolling the Pre-Raphaelites: 

I swear to you, it was just my way   
of cheering myself up, as I licked 
the stamped, self-addressed envelopes,   
the game I had of trying to guess   
which one of you, this time,   
had poisoned his glue. I did care.   
I did read each poem entire.   
I did say everything I thought   
in the mildest words I knew. And now, 
in this poem, or chopped prose, no better,   
I realize, than those troubled lines   
I kept sending back to you, 
I have to say I am relieved it is over: 
at the end I could feel only pity 
for that urge toward more life 
your poems kept smothering in words, the smell   
of which, days later, tingled in your nostrils   
as new, God-given impulses 
to write. 

you who are, for me, the postmarks again 
of imaginary towns—Xenia, Burnt Cabins, Hornell— 
their solitude given away in poems, only their loneliness kept.

Last day of class~we uploaded our final blog entries and I sent them off with a kitchen toy of their own. Now to close the dorm for break and fall into a deep spring slumber.


  1. A very successful minimester, and a well-deserved rest! Hope you gets LOTS of alone time this break.

  2. Hope you can sleep (my nemesis) - read - connect with your little Virginia family - whatever! Your students are spoiled for anyone following you if you decide to leave. Enjoy!