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Jim Reese, Rich Lofthus, & Dana De Witt

                             —The green shell of his backpack makes him lean
                              into wave after wave of responsibility…
Ted Kooser

My students, most of whom
have never bought a book on their own,
lean eagerly on chairs towards the screen,
their eyes showing all their white.

They like DVD’s more than books,
more than poems. One says, I can relate.
I’m so like totally more focused than when I read a book.
One student is shoeless.
Toes curled under—I imagine him hanging
upside down, sleeping in a tree.

A young woman in class
is wearing her Victoria Secret I LoVe PiNk
pajama bottoms and cougar-print slippers.
She looks cold. Her hoodie pulled tight around her head.

The cowboy boots in class are tied and the cowboy
has a holster for his Blackberry.
Thumbs slowly evolving into fingers
as he texts his way on horseback into the victorious sunset.
The only things missing is a pink dress shirt
tucked in to jeans pulled up
too high, the belt buckle big and bronze.

There’s a G-string arriving late,
bending now in front of the class
to pick up whatever it is she’s dropped.
There’s always a G-string. The batting of eyelashes.
What am I if I don’t look? I preach immersion.
Teach show don’t tell
write what you know well.

A student in the front of class keeps raising his hand.
I pause the DVD.

Are we supposed to be taking notes on this?
I stop the DVD and announce a pop quiz.
On the board I write:

During the Hundred Year’s War: (a) Italy and Greece battled over control of various Mediterranean islands; (b) France’s territorial integrity was defended by a young mystic named Joan of Arc; (c) Muslims and Christians clashed over control of Europe; (d) professors surrendered control of the classroom, finallyrecognizing the unalienable right of students to text 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as a natural right, based on loose construction of Thomas Jefferson’s pursuit of happiness clause in the Declaration of Independence, which then caused a dramatic decline in the production and sale of hooded sweatshirts across all of Christendom.

The students are cold.
Some stare blankly. Some scratch
at the backs of their hands.
One keeps snapping her gum and finally breaks
the silence.
Is this supposed to be some kinda joke?
History? I didn’t sign up
for that.

                           ---by Jim Reese, Rich Lofthus, & Dana De Witt