Friday, December 16, 2016

Poetry Friday: "Adjunct Professor, Ebenezer Scrooge"

On Sunday, as we flipped through channels, we came across A Christmas Carol, one we hadn't seen before, with Patrick Stewart as Scrooge.  It was so compelling that we kept coming back to it, eventually switching back and forth between it and The Simpsons.  I finally had to call it a night after the Ghost of Christmas Past was done.  At some point, I hope to see the rest because it was so gorgeously done.

I thought it was a film released to movie theatres, that's how beautiful it was. But it was a made for TV movie, done back in 1999.  I'm amazed that it's been around so long, and I haven't stumbled across it before. 

I've spent a few days thinking about my involvement with this text, both the one that Charles Dickens wrote, and the many filmed versions--and the larger pop culture world of texts (I'm using that word in its largest context) influenced by A Christmas Carol.  I have yet to see a filmed version that captures how dirty London would be during Scrooge's time, how claustrophobic it would feel to be on the street.

I also thought about a poem I wrote years ago, when I was in the midst of accreditation paperwork and hiring.   This year, I'm also in the midst of accreditation paperwork and hiring, and I went back to the poem. 

I've always delighted in taking fictional characters, and putting them in different situations--this poem is one of those.  I think it holds up well, and here it is, available to the wider world for the first time.  It has a sort of spirituality, but its much more understated than many of the poems I post here.

Adjunct Professor, Ebenezer Scrooge

Ebenezer Scrooge decides he needs
a change of scenery
and so he returns to the university
to teach a class in the Business School.

He’s not really credentialed,
but because he was brought on board
at the last minute, an emergency
hire, the dean overlooks this lack.

Also, he’s never taught.
The department chair argued
that his years as boss
should count, and thus, his entry.

Within weeks, students line
the hallways, waiting to complain
to the department chair, the dean, the president,
anyone who will listen.

Scrooge doesn’t ever return
their papers. He ignores
office hours. He won’t respond
to e-mail. And his imperious attitude!

When questioned, Scrooge complains
about the insistence of the modern student,
the 2:00 a.m. e-mails, the impatience
at 4:00 a.m. when he hasn’t answered.

The chair nods; he’s unbearably familiar
with students who expect him
to discipline their professors
as if lodging a complaint about a bad waitress.

Still, the dean insists on action,
an improvement plan. Scrooge quits.
He returns to his life of keeping tight
reign on costs and his employees.

Only occasionally does he miss
campus life, the walk across the quad,
the shiny labs with the latest technology,
the library, full of unread books.

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