Fall 2019 – Week 1

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I began two courses this week at Ball State. One is a literature course concerning 19th century American literature, and the other is a methods course on literary research. Both classes include students in master’s programs and Ph. D. programs. So far, I feel very comfortable with the reading and writing assignments on each syllabus. Among the major titles I’ll be reading (and in some cases re-reading) are the following:

  • Walt Whitman – Leaves of Grass
  • Henry David Thoreau – Walden
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson – “Nature”
  • Louisa May Alcott – Work
  • Frederick Douglass – My Bondage and My Freedom
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Blithedale Romance
  • Herman Melville – Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life
  • Harriet E. Wilson – Our Nig; or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black
  • Viet Than Nguyen – The Sympathizer
  • Claudia Rankine – Citizen: An American Lyric

This past week was also “Non-instruction week” at Ivy Tech. Full-time faculty must be on campus all five days and serve a minimum of 40 hours. Those hours are logged in paper form and submitted to the program chairs and deans. Each day this week, I attended a meeting of some kind. Some of those meetings were beneficial while some bordered on meeting a requirement.

I begin my twenty-first year as an educator on Monday with my first set of students for the fall semester. I will be teaching one class each day for the first eight weeks of this term, but I will not be in the classroom on Mondays during the second eight weeks. I’m teaching a co-requisite class this semester that is in line with the trajectory that Ivy Tech is headed: Eight-week courses.

While this particular post is not directly about eight-week courses, I will likely blog about my general observations of them between now and December. Unlike a lot of my colleagues, I feel I am a little more willing to embrace this structure. I opted to volunteer to teach one to at least see how it compares to the 16-week model I’ve been teaching for eight years (as an adjunct and FT professor) and be able to share informed takeaways from my experiences. It may work better than imagined, and it may be disastrous. For me, I prefer to at least try it with an open mind (hopefully in the spring 2020 semester as well) before shaping my official stance.

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Poe(m)try

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Here.  Read this.

Read the part below.

The poem.

I’m reading–actually skimming–through student poetry submissions

It’s an expected lot hyphen hyphen (dash)

Some are printed requests for Healing to Begin;

Others include lines about how

quote funny unquote quote life unquote

can be

A handful of energetic pieces st-

re-

tch imagination

(s) dot dot dot

So far just 1 has grabbed me

1 just slapped me upside my head.

The poet wrote

about how consumed we are

with ourselves

and how little w-

e

talk

and

share

and

love

and

be

in this oneandonlyworld

You see

there were 4 stanzas

And Line 2 of Stanza 1

Became Line 1 of Stanza 2

and so forth

while keeping the fl-

ow

and never losi-

ng or dis-

connecting

And I think it’s the strongest so far because that’s what poetry should do,

friends.

It should turn our chin toward the sun

And our eyes away from the coals

It can warrant warmth

And suffocate sadness

And it can be structured

or

not

Because poetic license allows you

to walk down the escalators sometimes

even if they’re pushing you

before you’re ready

The House on the Highway (updated Nov. 2018)

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transport1

Rain again.

The boy is sleepy

But becomes alert when reminded

Of school.

He’s dressed in minutes

His cowlick springs up

Over dry cereal at

An empty kitchen table

 

I cover a stained shirt

With a sweater

That fits tighter than last month.

We say goodbye

To a sleepy mama.

The missus

Misses coffee

But rubs

Her pregnant belly

And winces and ooohs.

 

She oozes exhaustion

Mumbles words of plans for plants.

 

Will the missus miss us?

Now we’re a mile away from her

When the first red light

Stifles our progress

Toward timelessness.

I hate

Being late.

The rain hardens, stiffens,

Strengthens.

The sky sends pellets,

Mini-bombs onto my windshield.

 

Green light.  No movement.

The head of the driver

In front of me

Is visible

In his side

mirror.

His phone’s more important.

I honk and say

Something

He can’t hear.

Something

The missus wishes

I wouldn’t say

when the boy is around.

Or ever.

 

Seconds pass. The guy looks

Up and eases forward.

Waveless and unapologetic.

Another point-eight miles of green lights,

Momentum rises,

Blades wipe away wetness.

The next stop is our turn.

The left-arrowed lane fills behind me

As the rest of the east- and west-bounders

Pound down the splashy path.

 

A long, loud transporter

Booms by on our right,

Bearing one-half of a modular home.

“Look at that house,” I say.

The boy, of course, looks

For a stable structure

On land

And sees.

“Whoa!”

Each letter filled with wonder.

“Is there people in there, Daddy?”

“Not likely,” I say.  

But I fixate on its

Its future inhabitants.

Where are they at this moment?

Waiting at the lot?

A few cars behind me?

Boxing up picture frames

And kitchen utensils

In another area code?

Did they pick that color?

Is this their forever home?

<<EEEEEP!!!>>

Will this rain ever quit?

<<BLAAMMM—BLAAMMMM!!!!!!!>>

 

The half-house punctured the flow.

The fractioned structured caused

Distraction.

I prevented traction.

I delayed the day.

The missus misses us.

We miss her.  

Work should wait some days.

 

Moving along, the boy bites

Into the lull.

“Daddy?”

“Yes?”

“I’m glad you’re taking me to school today.”

 

My son really says this,

Just like that.

 

I lower my window,

Brave the rain,

And stick out a sleeve

To wave my apology

To the cars behind me.