for Antonio Gramsci
… and I’d like to add that I will teach all the classes; I will crave the eight o’clock. I will teach whatever you want, Fuji Island poetry, gator wrestling, Lamaze, all within my range. I will toil like a South African dockworker, my office in a men’s room stall; I’ll wait there forever like a hobo in a Beckett play. I will make the students love e; erupt in a lava flow of praise over their slightest efforts. I will coddle and pet. I will nurture. I will suckle them on a blanket in a corner of the teachers’ lounge.
I’ll go to every meeting I can find. I’ll be perky and upbeat; bye-bye despair. I will not silently mouth the words I want to die. I will chortle when there chortle, stop when they stop, sick smile stuck on my face like the Joker. I will be a frisky Marxist, an ersatz Francophile, I will join a gang of coiffed homosexuals. No more Xeroxing my butt cheeks, no matter how appropriate the occasion. I will convince the Chair of the Committee for Diversity Hiring that I am the last Mohican.
I’ll hobnob with nearsighted Victorians and acne-scarred medievalists. I will show up each year with successively smaller black glasses. I will go under the knife, get a hamster overbite and pasty skin. I will come to your dinners and eat your bland food. I will move to the Galápagos of men’s fashion, a crepehanger’s satchel in the sea of bad tweed, drop cloth trench coat, sensible brogans, 30-watt power tie, huge pleats like I’m shoplifting an accordion.
I’ll request more students, shoehorn them in like the Middle Passage. I’ll have a roll book like a cast list from Cecil B. DeMille. No more office hours at the Moon Wink Motel. I’ll be avuncular and blinkered like Sea Biscuit, sterling, papal, Ken-doll sexless. No more wickedness or infernal voodoo, no matter how hot the student. I will be as prompt as a star, type-A-Nazi-punctual. I will never loiter, tarry, or dawdle. I will plan ahead to infinity. I will have lesson plans like Nostradamus.
I will be your apostle, applaud after all your dumb comments. I will work for no food. I will be my own dentist. No more classroom scenes like from Abu Ghraib prison or Hieronymus Bosch. I will respond to all questions with Of course, Derrida…. The faculty handbook will be my Koran. I will not mutter. I’ll make eye contact like a Latin American optometrist. No more shaking my junk at commencement, no more rattlesnakes in the mail slots. I will be the ideal hire, your colleague, a twin, a mirror.
[from This Island of Dogs]
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Author biography partially borrowed from the Colorado Poets Center:
Eliot Khalil Wilson is the author of The Saint of Letting Small Fish Go, published by Cleveland State Poetry Press, as well as This Island of Dogs, published by Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books. He has received a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Pushcart Prize, a Bush Foundation Fellowship, the Hill-Kohn Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and the Robert Winner Prize from the Poetry Society of America. He currently teaches at the University of Colorado Denver.