Today's NAPO prompt was to write Spoon River style poem. I tried being light and humourous about the deceased, but the tone feels off to me. Maybe it's the gloomy weather outside.
I don't know why, but lately I've been thinking a lot about one of my former students. His name was Andres. He was equal parts brilliant and lazy. I had him in a beginning composition class one semester, and then he signed up for my poetry class. I liked the kid, though sometimes he annoyed me with his weaseling out of work. He'd often come by my office hours to talk about the material and have deep conversation, which showed he was reading and engaging with the concepts. But getting him to turn in a writing assignment was always a hassle!
About halfway through that second semester, he died in a car wreck. One day in my class, the next he was gone. I never told the other students what happened to him. I hope they figured he just dropped the class like students often do. I wanted to spare them from facing mortality at eighteen/nineteen years old. I kept it a secret. I don't know if I did the right thing. Anyway, here's a poem about maybe what I wish I'd said.
Life’s unfair, though I try not to think about it.
Life’s unfair, and I’ve cheated death so many times
Though I try not to think about it. Life is a clusterfuck
And makes sense maybe fifty percent of the time,
And that’s being generous, though I try not to think about it.
For every rule followed, a thousand broken.
For every criminal locked up, a thousand run free.
For every whispered utterance, “Karma’s a bitch,”
A thousand exasperated sighs, though I try
Not to think about it too much. Life is unfair.
How many times have I run a red light,
Speed in a school zone, taken a curve
Too fast and lived to tell the tale?
I’m trying to explain this to my students:
Staring up at me, one seat empty,
Me, the only one who knows the reason why.
I’m trying to make them believe I have all of the answers,
A professor, with an EXPO marker and a brain
Filled with books I’ve read, and no, folks,
I won’t make up some lie about how things
Happen for a reason. Your classmate died,
A car wreck. No, he isn’t coming back.
There is no cosmic plan—he was young,
And brilliant and sweet, and now he’s gone.
What else is there to say to make this world make sense
To a class full of young men and women
Their lives stretched out before them
Like an open highway at midnight?