A poem about final papers by Laurence Musgrove.

December 13, 2019

As I did not teach for the good of my fellow-men,

but simply for a livelihood, this was a failure.

“Economy,” Thoreau


I’ve been conferencing with my students

This week on their final papers on Walden.

I’ve read over their first drafts, seven pages,

Works cited, and they are what you might

Expect: a little awkward, a little unfocused,

A little off topic, a little too personal, a little

Too little. So, when I met with one student

Today to go over his next steps, every time

I pointed to what he needed to revise or edit,

He said, “That’s fair.” which surprised and

Confused me, as if he was expecting another

Response: accusation, blame, denigration,

A little too personal, a little too, too much.


Laurence Musgrove is a professor of English at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Tex., where he teaches composition, creative writing, literature and comics. His books include a collection of poetry, Local Bird; a volume of aphorisms, One Kind of Recording; and most recently, The Bluebonnet Sutras, Buddhist dialogues in verse.


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