I asked a number of friends to help me with this 17-syllable exercise, using the traditional 3-line, 5-7-5 syllable haiku form to describe our feelings about beginning a new semester. Working inside a strong structure permits freedom, recognition, realization and a special kind of awakening to language and image. Because more people responded than I imagined, I've thrown (with permission) everybody into one batch. What started out as a way to playfully welcome the new term became far more than that, and ended up making more sense than nonsense-- as so often happens when we play.

Wake with teeth grinding

Broken printers in my dreams

Is it due today?

Wonderfully does

The cheating kid sit beside

The foreign student.

Capture my fresh thought

Embrace the joy of learning

Oops! There is no place to park.

Why teach before dawn?

The schedule I have now

Might kill me outright.

Happy instructor!

Brilliant students come to learn!

Brooklyn Bridge for Sale!

Cynical teachers

Make empty nests of classrooms

No one fills the blanks.

See the patient desk

Where no writer sits today.

Teaching interferes.

My boyfriend is back

But my new colleague is cute.

Fulbright time again?

Yesterday’s lessons

Drawn from your grad school notebooks

Will not work today.

How can we have lunch?

I teach five classes a day.

Remember? Adjunct!

Anybody here?

A fly buzzes in reply.

Wrong room once again.

Professor X smells

Of Axe spray and baby poop.


Canadian schools

Give faculty more support.

Count your blessings, eh?

No, you can’t get in.

The class is already full.

Yeah, well, tell it to the Dean.

Library closes

When you most need to go in.

You buy a Kindle.

Fine colleague retires.

Her absence makes you wonder:

Have you allies left?

See the pretty girl!

She is way too young for you.

Better believe it.

Twenty years teaching

And still no health insurance.

Too late for law school?

Submit the novel

Wait for the agent’s reply.

Is this a way out?

Turn your laptop off

And watch the sun cross the sky

Time has no cursor.


a version of this piece was first printed in The Chronicle of Higher Education

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