October 26, 2016

Howard Faerstein


for Mr. Mahedy

A. Define the thesis in the following topics:
Not a day goes by that I forget to wash.
I apologize for being so accessible, if for nothing else.
Walking into the hothouse, overcome by the smell of old love,
treasured and abhorrent memory holds like a tick.

B. Rewrite and punctuate:
what were we doing in the elevator dorothy
lights out hot hands the absence of rebuke
if only the tornado came tonight instead of years ago

C. Circle the prepositional phrases:
Drums, mother of pearl trim, sat in a bedroom corner.
I beat on the bass, high hat, the tightened snare.
Ignored the cymbals.

D. Identify the figures of speech:
(1) You flew from me like a cat when a plate breaks.
(2) Chomping caterpillars re-enact destruction of 2nd temple.

E. Revise the following paragraph, highlighting the relative clauses:
After the beagle fell through the chimney, I lifted her from 
the embers, carried her through the woods where she changed 
into a portable vacuum which I used to clean the trail. Then I dreamt 
of reconciliation when an admission of a dalliance with the Dean 
of Science caused me to awaken, shouting, What a hypocrite!

F. Eliminate the run-on:
Smack in the face of the smart money the shooting guard 
penetrates the paint dishes beyond the arc captures 
the crisp chest pass on the wing and floats one all net.

G. Correct for sentence fragments and misspellings:
I apolagize for being so inaccessible.
And for everything else.
The proffesor complemented me. On my voice.
Her exuberance overmatched mine. Love’s deadly imitation.
In today’s society. We have many problems.
H. Employing critical thinking, write a short essay explaining 
what you’re doing here.

I. Provide the answers:
Who wrote the book of love?
Why do fools fall in love?

For extra credit:
(1) When did Mayakovsky invent rock and roll?
(2) What’s love got to do with it?

Once more for emphasis.
Once again for clarity.

from Rattle #53, Fall 2016
Tribute to Adjuncts

[download audio]


Howard Faerstein: “Call me Professor F. Call me adjunct. Better still, call me visiting instructor, a title even more denigrating but necessary to meet the lower pay scale. Hired to be a teacher of American youth, I’ve been at it for almost two decades feeding American dreams to bored, sleepy, apathetic not-quite adults as if they’d be interested in Thoreau, Faulkner, Cheever—I should’ve focused on superheroes or why it’s no longer necessary to use apostrophes. There’s a rumor that college administrators will soon be subject to the same corporate out-sizing … wouldn’t that be sweet. But don’t count on it just yet.” (website)

October 25, 2016

John Bennett


Nine-eleven-96-hike the ball to the split-end the tight-end to the
end of the known world fling the fucker between your legs
and prepare to meet your maker as an army of 300-pounders beefed
up on steroids and quarter-pounders comes rolling over
you but what the fuck what the hell let the thunder die in your ears
as they go on their merry way in hot pursuit and then pick
yourself up and limp over to the sidelines where the coach will slap
you on the ass and the waterboy will slap you on the ass
and all the guys on the bench jump up and slap you on the ass you
did your job you set the ball in motion and even tho
you’re no 6-digit superstar you’re essential to the game and people
speak of you fondly if they speak of you at all which they
really don’t that much and ten years down the line maybe less
probably more like five when you’re drunk on a stool in the
last of the skidrow bars even the bartender won’t know your name
and he’s been a sports fan since before he could walk
which you can barely manage yourself drunk all the time on cheap
wine and one day you can’t even go in there you’re on a
park bench in a big overcoat with no pants underneath not pants and
a ridiculous pajama top and no you’re no pervert this is
just what it’s come down to and here comes that cop on a horse again
twirling his billy move on move on the words echoing
in your confusion you look around but there’s no place left to go and
then you look up and there is this world of winter
branches latticed against a blue sky. Something lifts something lifts
big time go there you think go there and you do.

from Rattle #15, Summer 2001
Tribute to the Underground Press


John Bennett: “I am an iconoclast to the point that I don’t trust the word iconoclast. I’m big on elasticity and spontaneity and—more than anything—motion.” (website)

October 24, 2016

R.G. Evans


My niece is addicting
mice to cocaine.

The cause is science,
the university is Temple

so it’s almost holy.
Poor little buggers.

Their tickers get to ticking
and pretty soon they dream

that they are rats,
that they can fly,

that they are rats
with wings, pigeons

soaring over mouse and rat,
the god of mice,

of rats, of birds. Until morning 
when they’ll believe

that they are dead.
Then the true god comes

in a cloud-like lab coat,
the resurrection and the life.

I used to dream 
I was a mouse,

but I am only a flea
upon a mouse’s back.

But sometimes … sometimes
the blood’s so sweet

I feel I’m the uncle of light riding
bareback and holy through the temple.

from Rattle #53, Fall 2016
Tribute to Adjuncts

[download audio]


R.G. Evans: “One of the first questions I ask my creative writing students at the university where I serve as adjunct is, ‘What is your favorite poem?’ I get a lot of ‘The Raven’ or ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends.’ Some try to describe Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken,’ although they usually can’t identify Frost or the title. I don’t mention this as a criticism of my students, most of whom are clever, adaptive writers who delight me with their work throughout the semester. I mention it as an indictment of an educational system that has gone mad pursuing standards and standardized testing while excluding the rich history of poetry available to everyone. At a time when we need poetry more than ever before, it’s my privilege to be able to introduce students to poetry and watch what happens behind their eyes.” (website)

October 21, 2016

Anna M. Evans


You just come in and teach, then you can go,
she says, distracted by her tenure file.
I wish someone would tell my students so.

From there I leave to meet with one who’s slow
to understand the work. It takes a while
to teach him what he needs. Then, I can go.

Another texts: the fetus didn’t grow.
She’s on bed rest for weeks. Can I compile
the work she’ll miss? I can, and tell her so.

Two student emails wait: one’s in a show
and really wants me there. Good kid. I smile
and write back saying I’ll be thrilled to go.

The second wants a reference. Just say no,
I’m told. I could, but cannot reconcile
this with the student I remember. So,

the one whose mom died doesn’t need to know
my story, how I have to swallow bile
when I hear how I come, and teach, and go.
I don’t. I wish someone would tell them so.

from Rattle #53, Fall 2016
Tribute to Adjuncts

[download audio]


Anna M. Evans: “Although this poem is the first and only I have so far written to address the subject of my work as an adjunct professor at Stockton University directly, my job affects my poetry in subtle ways. I have become a crusader for social injustice and that is a thread that runs through my poems. I also see social media as the battleground in which these issues will play out and have worked hard to understand it.” (website)

October 19, 2016

Aubrie Cox



DUI checkpoint
dashboard Mother Mary
bathed in light




chum sink caution tape washes in with the kelp




whittled down
to a toothpick
cheese block




spare change where the rainbow almost ends




day moon
drone hovers
over the observatory

from Rattle #53, Fall 2016
Tribute to Adjuncts


Aubrie Cox: “Creative writing is a luxury usually reserved for full-time faculty, so I spend a lot of time teaching composition and grading essays. There is no funding for adjuncts, so I have to pay my own way to readings and conferences. My mind is usually filled to the brim worrying about money and wondering if I’ll have a job the following semester. Since becoming an adjunct, I have longer rumination periods and write in spurts, whereas before I tended to write year-round. Usually in the spring I’ll suddenly have several really good poems, then it may not be until August when something else solidifies. That being said, when I don’t have the mindset to write, I find a way to champion someone else’s work. Just because I’m not in the act of writing doesn’t mean I stop being engaged.” (website)