Why Do You Want to Be a Teacher?
I have been everything.
The commentary track
to the dark comedy
of American History
I provided without solicitation.
The blue hair with winter rain
in it was mine, and I
was the one who came empty handed
that you passed with a D.
You could count on me
to read aloud The Diary
of Anne Frank
or my fiction
about a man whose body falls
asleep one limb at a time
until he can’t get out of bed one morning
and everyone decides he’s not
worthy of their love.
I sang tenor in your choir, sang
the national anthem before the ball games,
but unless you grabbed me by the arm
I wouldn’t stand from my desk
for the pledge of allegiance
(not even once) in high school.
I opened up owl pellets
every time you asked
and from these wretched globes
I put together a thousand
warped skeletons of small mammals
with a hundred mandibles
You wished you had a thousand of me,
you’d tell my mom;
and then we’d go up the hall and you’d
make her cry
as you put it bluntly,
you’d never had such a lazy student.
My head is a thing I kept
against the window on long bus rides,
usually with spit.
If you looked me in the eye and asked
me to explain why I felt that way,
to elaborate on my answer,
it really meant something.
There isn’t anyone
I don’t want to save,
no point of view
I can’t find myself in.
who takes a seat in my class
has been in an invisible rain
of violets and skulls.
I want to be the friendly monk
with a stained-glass haircut
who sits with them and listens.
By Chris Prewitt
Sorry, everyone, I’m sorry.
I took such poor care
of myself for years.
I know things got weird.
On Monday, I was affable
and witty. Even if you
who wanted to design
why you had to write
you did find me funny
and kind. But then
on Wednesday, what happened?
I was irritable for no reason,
all my spoken sentences seemed to be
the output of The William Burroughs
Cut Up Generator,
and a profound sadness
that emanated from me
filled the room
as I sat at the table at the front,
looking at my hands.
I hope the notes I left
on your essays made sense,
though I didn’t really want to write them
if I knew you’d just flip
to your grade and throw into the wastebasket
your essay on the way out the door.
I can only say sorry, sorry—
as I said to you about your writing, sometimes
it takes great courage
to admit that you need help.
By Chris Prewitt
Once the syllabus is out of the way,
then we get to business.
I make a point about interpretation: not
all interpretations work.
suppose we were to read Robert Frost’s
‘Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening,’
and a student said,
‘Mr. Prewitt, this poem is about the use of submarines
in the first World War,’
would that make any sense?
So we’ll talk a lot
I’m not a doctor.
I’m an adjunct. I have no office. I have no reason
to believe I’ll be here once the semester’s over,
so I’ll put my heart into this class as if it were
my last sixteen weeks on earth,
but don’t expect me to read email
after 4 pm.
That requires the premium Prewitt plan
which ultimately falls on the college to pay.
You know about Rate My Professor?
I encourage you to read
reviews. You should take the class that’s right for you
with someone you can work with.
This subject’s that important.
For what it’s worth,
most students seem to like me. They think
that my class is easy.
For others, not only is the class a waste
of time, they also find me pretentious.
Which is true.
This World’s Greatest Dad mug you see me
regularly taking drinks from?
I don’t have any kids.
Though this is Composition I, think of this more broadly
as a course in communication.
What are good relationships built on?
We’ll learn both here.
By Chris Prewitt
Chris Prewitt is the author of Paradise Hammer (SurVision Books), winner of the 2018 James Tate Poetry Prize. Prewitt's writing has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Prewitt has also received the Virginia Tech/Poetry Society of Virginia Poetry Prize.