Creative Writing

At semester’s end I tell them
that when the novel founders
with the bourgeoisie, survivors
of the latter are peasants, electronics
are gone and movies myth,
poetry will resume its place
by the fireside of illiterates. Their look
(for they too have survived:
rehab, bulimia) combines
forbearance and that will
to take everything under advisement,
show no enthusiasm,
indefinitely defer judgment.
I return their last works, make some
grand, self-revealing, verbal
gesture. One or two shake my hand

as we leave. The campus, bankrupt
girls’-school absorbed
by the costliest university,
is blocks from my house. To walk
to work! Luck happens.
Like the view downhill I pretend
is ruins and forest … None of which
counts as teaching, a less fortunate friend
reminds me. Whose voice
is to most of her students a noise
before pregnancy, between
some intolerable insult
and shooting or being shot;
or itself provocation, earning
warnings: “You borin’ me, bitch.”

Once home – it was fall semester, night
comes fast – I drink,
field late pleading emails, answer one
that thanks me. And think
(it’s an end; one philosophizes)
how poetry mustn’t be tastelessly
pertinent; how taste ruins poetry;
how poems are at best anomalous
fossils that may or may not
be unearthed. How my kids are already
scattering to airports, parents,
hopefully … How the most rational,
propitious eras presented
to their young no face better
than mine, regretful, doubtful, fighting to focus.


Copyright © 2010 Frederick Pollack


Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure and Happiness, both from Story Line Press. He is an adjunct professor of creative writing at George Washington University.