Editor’s note — I found this poem while I was looking in for something else in an old hard drive where I store files from when I taught English at Benedictine University Springfield. In my creative writing classes, I wrote along with the students whenever possible — if I was asking them to embarrass themselves by trying to write a poem on demand, I figured I’d better write one, too. If their creative juices weren’t flowing, I told them, they could still churn out a “poem-like substance” even when it didn’t rise to the level of poetry. Some of my poem-like substances, I reprinted in the Sleepy Weasel, our campus literary magazine. I offer no apologies for the allusion to my favorite line in Shakespeare.

Exit Classroom, Growling

Pete Ellertsen

Exit, pursued by a bear.
— William Shakespeare, 
Winter’s Tale, stage direction at 3.3.58

write your own eulogy
well
that’s the assignment
and
what’s worse
I
assigned it

what’s next?
a five-paragraph obituary?
use sufficient evidence to support your claim
of course
and state your thesis in the first paragraph
and
oh
sure why not?
underline the nouns and circle the verbs

well
hell’s
bells
I can’t write a life
any more
than I can
live a paragraph

no

I think
I’ll just live
and
let
live
and quietly exit
this bohemian seacoast
pursued by whatever good
words
I leave behind–

Copyright © 2007 The Sleepy Weasel

3 thoughts on “A Shakespeare allusion in a ‘poem-like substance’ found on an old hard drive

  1. Full disclosure — my write-your-own-obit assignment was in a journalism class, and the Shakespeare allusion came to me later. If memory serves, I wrote this “poem-like substance” in a creative writing class, and, yes, the English majors — who were also taking a Shakespeare survey that semester — liked it..

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