Le Roi Est Mort

This is the classroom where I will die.
I will be teaching great literature, or motifs:
the ubi sunt, the carpe diem, the deus ex machina

and I’ll expire, probably of a headache.
The students might look up, at long last,
blinking, and awaken from their months-long

slumber to see the real meat of the matter.
They’ll gather round me in a quiet circle,
faces filled with the wonderment

I sought for so long in vain. Maybe
they’ll hold hands or sing a short song.
No one, though, will ascend his chair to cry

O Captain, My Captain. But I prophesize
they will take out their forbidden iPhones and,
without even snapping one ultimate selfie

with my mortal remains, they’ll place them
in a ring around my body, like Neanderthals
who spread flowers about their dead. This is my final

reward: they will go outside, disencumbered
by technology, and they will explore the fields and
smell the bees and wander like walleyed pike.

They’ll paint portraits of the inhuman and compose
symphonies for the herons. And when at last
the angel is cranked down from a poufy cloud

on creaking cables to heft me to the rafters,
my students will smile and wave and
shout: there go the snows of yesteryear!

My rictus grin will quiver a bit dustily
because at least they got it half right.


Amaya Engleking’s prompt for dVerse Poets Pub Poetics: “Back to school” asks us to remember our own school days. I don’t. So instead, here’s a poem about my current school days as a teacher.

11 thoughts on “Le Roi Est Mort

  1. Charming and amusing -not to say erudite – the way you wove teachings into their reactions but you see your students clearly and your wish for them is beautifully written in the last 3 stanzas

  2. This was a treat to read — I especially liked this:
    “and they will explore the fields and
    smell the bees and wander like walleyed pike.”

  3. Hats off to you. I last taught in a classroom seven years ago, and even then the youngens would be sneaking peaks at their phones. I don’t know how I could go back to doing that without pulling out all of my hair. Outdoors, sans screens, is much more conducive to focused learning. I loved your poem and all the allusions to what students could access if they wanted to.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s