Flock will survive without me, rest assured.

          My leaping out the window was foretold

          In my satiric lectures, through which you've snored.

          Flock will survive without me, rest assured,

          And feed as well--but I'll be much less bored

          To hit the ground running from the baa baa fold.

          Flock will survive without me, rest assured.

          My leaping out the window was foretold.









          1. A Student Eulogist


          I praise him for his ideas,

          many of which I could not copy down

          he spoke so fast,

          long curving sentences

          bow-strung from above our heads

          shot to the rear wall.

          But I caught half of them,

          I mean, at least the words,

          and I can prove it from my notes,

          sprawled word for word in lines

          as clear to read as print--

          though little good they did me,

          even verbatim,

          given back on the final exam,

          which he said were illogical and far-fetched.

          Why did I have to suffer

          for his illogic and far-fetchedness?

          And may he rest in peace.



          2. A Colleague Murmurer


          He taught movies.

          He taught Fred Astaire and Cary Grant.

          What's to be taught?

          I love those films,

          but what good's words

          that swirl across the podium

          pursuing Fred Astaire

          and gently leap the nuanced page

          to poise upon a ballroom's polished floor,

          then dip and rise and sweep?

          And could he, in a corner, nail

          the grace and suavity of Roger Thornhill

          running for his life, each hair in place?

          You have to see it to believe,

          but then you do believe,

          and what is there to add?

          Some way to earn a living!



          3. The College President Eulogist


          Although he was not of the faith,

          he died in virtue on the job,

          which, however it may prove he was not up to it,

          he worked up to the level of his merit,

          which we respect, for lower branches of the tree

          must in their way support the more favored choir,

          its soaring testimonials

          of language higher in its reaches,

          humming closer to God.



           4. Poetry Editor Mourner


           He had new things to say,

           which always made you wonder

           why one would want to say such things.

           Words on a well-greased page

           slid down stanzaic ponds--

           and came to rest on a rubber-cushioned pad.

           Next, suddenly self-propelled by pumped-up legs,

           high arching iambs lofted to and fro,

           but mostly up and down, up and down.

           In see-saw equilibrium he strode,

           and now his final sandbox

           buries his self-indulgent pail.



           5. The Department Chairman Mourner


           He spoke with deeper moral purposes in mind,

           though sometimes his vocabulary came up short,

           as when discussing high administrative heads:

           "clowns, con-men, advertisers, idiots, and pimps."


           But while complaining always of our meetings' lengths,

           he was the first to cut himself a slice of cake,

           the last to stand and finish off the pretzel bowl,

           and in between amend all motions up for vote.


           He always had ideas for new curricula,

           undaunted by new preparations, sweeping out

           what he himself  had argued for a few years back:

           whatever is is stale and could be fed to birds.


           He was ironic but perpetually amused,

           pronounced his lecturing as high-class vaudeville,

           but students did not often grasp his comedy,

           and some resented that they were assigned to read.



            6. The Coffined Murmurer


            A character in a Pirandello tale

            shows up disguised at his own funeral

            and lets the corpse receive the honors due.


            This is different. I must report

            dressed in a pine box in a limousine

            to bear the burden of the shovels' thrusts,

            cascading dirt that's flung judiciously--

            all part of my probation till the terms

            have been exhausted and I've been released

            to bask in Florida, annuitized.


            I chose professing as a planned career:

            dispensing wisdom from benches on the quad;

            long sand-swept summers reading poetry,

            hearthside dialogues with sophomores,

            debates with tweedy colleagues in warm pubs.


            My contract with the devil reads this way:


            Accept your daily death in the lecture hall.

            Be civilized and never speak what's true,

            unless you wink or grin (wit covers all),

            or quote as scholar someone's nasty view.

            Applaud the president's vision when he speaks

            each time the provost claps, or dean nods Yes!

            Update your notes every thousand weeks.

            And when you know for certain, pretend to guess.

            Value diversity as truth revealed,

            and tolerate the uncanned worms: the odd

            uprooting of the stone's dark world unpealed

            the deeper scurrying design of God.

                        For every compromise herein you get  

                        a desk, free freshman texts, the Internet.


            As Dr. Johnson or the Bible said,

            "Can't spare the time?

            Don't do the crime."

            So I was warned, still do I stick around,

            murmuring from six feet underground.





                                                                             Stanley J. Solomon