He couldn’t wait to tell his wife, Janelle,

          About his day, the way the kids took to

          Barthelme’s “The School” he handed out

          To map a story’s geographical borders,

          Not a series of unrelated prairies and mountains,

          But a focus on one continuous piece of land

          That had to be crossed by a pioneer

          Who would either succumb or succeed


          In the trying, kind of like when he took this job

          Thirty years ago this June, stepping into the now-

          Dead principal’s office to face a future

          He didn’t want, but wanted less to be a poor,

          Unpublished novelist, so listened to his father

          And sucked it up, sat through those god-

          Awful waste-of-time pedagogical classes


          To be here today, finally at home

          With who he was, a teacher, not writer, or,

          On a good day, maybe he’d give himself both. 

                                                                                          Richard Holinger