Category Archives: grading

Paper Maché Identity Sonnet

The remnants of my dreams cling in fragments

Like the torn strips of wetted news paper

Soaked in Wheatepaste and glue to be pliant

I’m only a paper maché cover

The pasteboard mask that I present to you

Made up of the finest linen paper

Is a simulacrum that is untrue

Made to help me pull off this bold caper

Who is anything more than a puppet

Strings leading up to the bold puppeteer

(Or a hand reaching up to control it?)

Once we know this we can play without fear

The script that we are performing each day

Was written long ago & far away

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Work Week Sonnet Six

It is only Tuesday
But this week feels agéd
In my soul it’s Thursday
Work amplifies stages

Mistakes continue to
Add to previous weeks
Errors’ blizzards accrue
Making me an antique

The thoughts of so many
So imperfectly said
Begin “the uncanny”
Cluttering in my head

The teaching industry
Simply abuses me

I Wrote A Poem While Grading 2



I wrote a stupid poem this morning 

It was about teaching and my classes

Its inspiration came without warning

While grading papers without my glasses

I was struck by the strange intimacy

That reading people’s writing demanded

I was correcting a paper lazy

When I learned that no one else had listened

Though I’m just her eccentric professor

I do spend the time to read ev’rything

Strangely I’ve become her sole confessor

I’m paid to do more than just correcting

But the truth is that I still can’t grade dreams

Just writing typed & printed by the reem 

Spring Semester 15 (in 8)




Tomorrow I begin again
A new semester & students
We, together, will start new trends
Embarking on fresh engagements

New personalities to teach
Me how to better instruct
People to locate goals and reach
Enduring happiness and such

Classrooms: aging and decrepit
Ideas and theories: still older
Will become students’ learning kit
Where their intellect will temper

Ev’ry new college semester
Turns people into investors

Grading Research Papers Sonnet

IMG_0714 autobiographies sonnet

Grading Research Papers

Paper after paper, written badly
Sing their author’s personal mistakes
Beautiful lives experienced madly
They tell true stories, not one single fake

Tragedies and triumphs in 12 point font
Murders, suicides & unsure thinking
Documented unevenly: youth’s cant
Rebellion, obedience and drinking

In fifty-odd students, you’ll find it all
Skills, effort (experiences alleged)
Things that make scholars procrastinate, stall
No tabula rasa at this college

Grading research autobiographies
Lets me see my student’s real qualities

Frantic Grading Haiku

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3. The frantic ending/
To a grueling semester/
Strangely calming/
#haiku

4. Cheating students try/
To game the American/
System of learning/
#haiku

5. There is disrespect/
For American thinking/
Trying to cheat grades/
#haiku

6. Critical thinking/
On subjects besides cheating/
Is undervalued/
#haiku

7. This Golden island/
Still rewards creative thought/
Though it can be gamed/
#haiku

8. I am indignant/
That students think that cheating/
Is American/
#haiku

9. “It’s like lobbying”/
For our tax advantages:/
(Venal Washington)/
#haiku

10. But mercifully/
Government education/
“Ain’t” political/
#haiku

The [Annotated] Gift of Today

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22. The gift of today/
Arrives before I’m ready/
To savor its wealth/
#haiku

23. I open my gift/
Look at all the small pieces/
& feel overwhelmed/
#haiku

24. We’re all small children/
Christmas morning greedily/
Opening presents/
#haiku

25. Presents we’re given/
Have “some assembly required”/
We don’t want to do/
#haiku

26. We sit on the floor/
Gifts & wrapping everywhere/
Refusing to build/
#haiku

27. This imperfect world/
Requires some assembly/
To become Heaven/
#haiku

28. Pick up the pieces/
& assemble your Heaven/
From what Life’s* given/
#haiku *G_d’s

[annotated version]

22. The gift of today/
Arrives before I’m ready/
To savor its wealth/
#haiku

This is a commentary on how I am distracted by my personal meditations when I should be working on my academic work.

23. I open my gift/
Look at all the small pieces/
& feel overwhelmed/
#haiku

I am correcting my manuscript but I’d rather “play poet” & philosophize my feelings.

24. We’re all small children/
Christmas morning greedily/
Opening presents/
#haiku

Here I return to the “gift metaphor” using Christmas to describe my work as a gift before a spoiled & petulant child.

25. Presents we’re given/
Have “some assembly required”/
We don’t want to do/
#haiku

I place myself in the general flow of ungrateful (western) humans who want a “prefabricated Heaven” assembled by G_d while continuing the modern Christmas metaphor for heaven.

26. We sit on the floor/
Gifts & wrapping everywhere/
Refusing to build/
#haiku

I expand the metaphor of spoiled child at Christmas, thinking of the paper I should be editing. The paper, my work, is a metaphor for Heaven.

27. This imperfect world/
Requires some assembly/
To become Heaven/
#haiku

I think this is my philosophy, that life is Heaven! I remember when I got clean & sober & I went from Hell to Heaven in 90 days. I wish I felt that again more viscerally (90 in 90!)

28. Pick up the pieces/
& assemble your Heaven/
From what Life’s* given/
#haiku *G_d’s

I use G_d & Life interchangeably. Does that diminish or re-enforce my atheism/agnosticism?

Finally, I rather like the invocation-jeremiad to improve your life through work and faith.