HEY TEACH

She is long departed I imagine,
and she would have had no
memory of me given the number
who passed through her room
in the decades she stood imparting
the sort of knowledge that was
somehow tucked away, not
forgotten, for it bubbled forth
years later, the aha moment.

I could not forget her, why
perhaps she was a key 
to my passwords, the first
question you have to answer
to reset a site, to reset your life,
“Who was your most memorable
teacher?” and it was she among
all the others without doubt.

WHEN WE STOPPED

It was probably that moment
just after we sat down
at our new, huge or so
they seemed, desks
and the large person
in the front of the room
smiled at us and said
“I will teach you all
that you need to learn
this year so pay attention.”

Perhaps we stopped
thinking the year before
during kindergarten,
but I do think the first
day of first grade
truly marked the moment
of our mental subjugation.

SHORT LISTED

A short list of my college learning:

you can drink bad beer when it’s free,
you can’t  cram for finals on caffeine alone,
you can watch Star Trek episodes for the nth time,
you can make spaghetti sauce out of ketchup,
Naval ROTC cadets make great radio engineers,
even the news director gets free LPs,
mescaline is not advised for exam pep,
0.98 GPA requires negotiation to remain,
English can be an accidental major.

A short list of my  college missed learning:

fail calculus if you never go to class
formal organic chemistry, not self-applied,
not reading any Chaucer before writing the final paper
grad schools look at GPA, not just GRE,
sleeping through morning classes not a good strategy, 
Medieval history is boring,
Symbolic logic is anything but.

Conclusion: Got the diploma so
parents money well invested.classes

COSMOLOGY

Our purpose is to understand
and then explain
the order of the Universe:
the logic of the neat array of stars
from our centrally located
observation deck, the galaxies
as so many fractals seeking
to hide their organization.
We have no ability to control
and lack the mechanisms
to make all but the most minute
adjustments and then as if
to energize a stray electron
into a higher energy state.
We would like to foretell
but we have no essential premise
on which to erect our framework
just a cornerstone unwilling
to settle in place or time.
We can only recount
what we have learned
cautious that we miss
only events of lesser importance
even if they are prehistory
long before they occur.
Before the beginning
was the beginning.


Published in the May 2004 issue of Vent

GYOZAN DRAWS A LINE 鐵笛倒吹 八十三

At the end
of a long day of discourse
the teacher may ask the student
what have you learned.
How should the student respond.

The student may raise a finger
and trace a line
in the air of a fading day.
Which, I ask you
is the teacher
and which
is the student?


A reflection on Case 83 of The Iron Flute