October 31, 2016

Steve Henn

ALWAYS WANTED A CAREER IN EDUCATION? (CLICK HERE)

I went into teaching, obviously,
to create a vast network of lackeys
reaching beyond their decades
of graduation to infiltrate communities
with my nefarious values. And to create
yes-men. Yes-people. Yes-women, too.
LGBTQ yes-folk. Equal opportunity yessing.
Everyone can agree with me.
Everyone can do what I say.
When their hands raise in class my lackeys know
the only appropriate comment is “tell me what
to think of this, Mr. Greatest Poet
in the Universe,” and I say, Sally, Billy, whatever,
you’re free to think exactly as I think
as much as you’d like. Sarah. Sam. Whoever
you are or may be—Christ, they stick me
with 120-150 of you whiners per semester,
you’d think God or Allah or the Hindi Elephant God,
whoever’s in charge, ought to know
I’ve got more students in here than I can keep track of.
“Yes, Mr. The Greatest English Teacher in Known
and Unknown History,” my students answer kindly,
gracefully, gratefully. “We understand you,
Mr. Don’t Worry We Love You,” they coo,
they soothe. “We were put here, in your presence,”
they confess, “so that you might be understood.”
An otherworldly glint shimmers in their eyes,
which I choose to ignore; it’s like the palms
of their hands are pushing against my heels—
I go up and up and up, ever onward
into the light, understood, appreciated, elevated,
probing heaven with my hands
as if this were my coronation.

from Rattle #53, Fall 2016
Tribute to Adjuncts

[download audio]

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Steve Henn: “One of the classes I teach in an Indiana high school is a dual-credit IU freshman composition course, followed in the spring by a dual credit IU Literary Interpretation course. I am considered IU faculty as a teacher of the course, and am not remunerated for my services, although the training for it is paid for by IU. The students pay for and earn IU credit for the courses. In that sense, I’m another source of cheap labor for the Indiana University system. This poem was written in the past year, during my second time teaching the L202 course and third time teaching freshman comp.” (website)