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
that’s the assignment
what’s worse
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
sure why not?
underline the nouns and circle the verbs

I can’t write a life
any more
than I can
live a paragraph


I think
I’ll just live
and quietly exit
this bohemian seacoast
pursued by whatever good
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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