Not quite a great poet



They say all the great poets died young, and hungry.

I guess that’s why I’m no great poet.

I didn’t die soon enough

And I liked to eat.

Professors don’t get the respect we deserve; we just get tenure.

Then we get accused by Right Wing Bigots of being too liberal.

All this hits me hard when I come back to campus too early.

In summer, the campus is alive with the clatter of hammers and the sharp echo of my own footsteps along empty sidewalks.

In fall, these empty canyons are filled with impressionable minds.

I often ache for their advancement the way I ached for my own graduation.

They are the reason I live.

Sure, I have a life outside of college.

But I am always uncomfortable among people who don’t think – the reactionary money-grubbing populace who prefer the lottery to logic, living from pay check to pay check in the hope they might strike it rich – even when they are rich in the first place.

The successful people – I call them stock brokers always they might be of any profession – stop thinking when school ends, filling their pockets with profits and their lives with cheap thrills.

I even prefer the empty campus to their company.

Here, I need not worry about sounding “too intelligent,” thus out of touch with the popular misconception that all intelligent people are crazy.

While most ordinary people do not yet think a book is only good for burning, they are never far from that idea, and don’t see a point in owning one unless it has pictures.

This college like most colleges used to be a safe haven for people like people, people who still believed in liberal ideas.

But year after year, I’ve seen a new breed of professor, money changers who have come to the temple of knowledge to street students towards a more practical life of money grubbing on Wall Street.

My students used to quote Shakespeare and Plato, now they quote the Stock Market.

I listen to the hammers pounding out new construction to house this whole new philosophy, life as a calculation rather than an inspiration.

It scares me to think my kind might cease to exist in the college’s rush to make money, while Neo Nazis continue to blame my kind for twisting the minds of those few students who still avoid stock market slavery in the pursuit of true knowledge.

Sometimes, even when the campus is clattering with students, I feel like I do now, heavy with the beat of my own heart as I walk isolated among the mindless who had invaded this once sacred earth.

And at those times I wish more than ever that I had become a great poet and died young.


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