November 9, 2016

Clint Margrave

MEURSAULT GETS A JOB AS AN ADJUNCT ENGLISH PROFESSOR

It doesn’t matter if he forgets sometimes
how to speak English,
slips back into French,
because he doesn’t say much anyway,
just stares at the class,
while his mind drifts off across
the Mediterranean
to that beach in Algiers,

or the softness of Marie’s hair,
or how the ocean breeze
once felt on his skin.

“Aren’t you going to pass out the syllabus?”
a student finally asks at the third meeting.

Meursault shrugs.

“It doesn’t matter,” he says,
“but I could if you’d like.”

Another student raises her hand
and wants to know
about his absence policy.

“Absence is the only policy,” Meursault says,
before he kicks his feet up
on the desk and reaches
in his blazer pocket
for a cigarette.

from Rattle #53, Fall 2016
Tribute to Adjuncts

[download audio]

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Clint Margrave: “I currently teach English (at least this semester—you never know) as an adjunct at El Camino College and Cal State Long Beach. The word ‘adjunct’ means a thing added to something else, supplementary and inessential. It’s the outsider status that has always informed my poetry.” (website)