Tag Archives: the burden of grading

#222: Why I Am Happy


Poet and teacher of mine from a long way back, Peter Sears, taught me about a thing called poetry by corruption, whereby you, the writer, take a poem that you like and just simply and with impunity steal things from it, or, steal it wholesale except for some words or phrases you’ve blanked out from the original and then replaced with your own stuff. It’s only legal because it’s a good exercise to teach us about the choices poets make and it’s a way to pay homage and attention to a poem we love. The only rule: don’t try this at home unless you’re willing to give credit to the original poem. The following is a corruption of one of my favorites by William Stafford.

Why I Am Happy

(from William Stafford)

Now has come, an easy time, I am done
grading sophomore essays, and there is
a lake somewhere so blue and so far
no more student work can find me.
A wind comes, saying, you’re not there yet.

In a few more days will come student
notebooks and portfolios and senior
final exams into my attention. For now,
a lull, unusual, like the one
I hear every summer, when I, too,
laugh and cry for every turn of the world.

Grading goes on and on
but that lake goes on and on even farther;

and I know where it is.

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#95: On the End of Spring Break

There’s laundry to fold and put away
and dust bunnies to suck up
and it’s raining and blowing so hard
we’re sort of trapped in here.
Water puddles up in the flower beds
and these damn sugar ants keep
crawling over my keyboard
while I type up another poem.
It’s Saturday, half way through,
and after that we have one more
Sunday before everyone goes
back to school.  There’s an over-
whelming amount of grading
just waiting on my desk in the
classroom which I’ve managed
not to think about all week long.
But now I’m thinking about it
and there’s a heaviness in my
chest of dread anticipation.
Why must there be grading?
Why must everything be measured?
Does learning not happen
unless there is a record of it?
These are the thoughts I’m having
on the end of spring break,
and then I’m wondering what I will do
with my last real night of freedom,
longing for something just slightly
out of my reach.

Heavy Downpour

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