If Ezra Pound were alive today (and he is) he'd be teaching at a small college in the Pacific Northwest and attending the annual convention of writing instructors in St. Louis and railing against tenure, saying tenure is a ladder whose rungs slip out from under the scholar as he climbs upwards to empty heaven by the angels abandoned for tenure killeth the spirit (with tenure no man becomes master) Texts are unwritten with tenure, under the microscope, sous rature it turneth the scholar into a drone decayeth the pipe in his jacket's breast pocket. Hamlet was not written with tenure, nor were written Schubert's lieder nor Manet's Olympia painted with tenure. No man of genius rises by tenure Nor woman (I see you smile). Picasso came not by tenure nor Charlie Parker; Came not by tenure Wallace Stevens Not by tenure Marcel Proust Nor Turner by tenure With tenure hath only the mediocre a sinecure unto death. Unto death, I say! WITH TENURE Nature is constipated the sap doesn't flow With tenure the classroom is empty et in academia ego the ketchup is stuck inside the bottle the letter goes unanswered the bell doesn't ring.
David Lehman - 1948-
The Difference Between Pepsi and Coke
Can't swim; uses credit cards and pills to combat intolerable feelings of inadequacy; Won't admit his dread of boredom, chief impulse behind numerous marital infidelities; Looks fat in jeans, mouths clichés with confidence, breaks mother's plates in fights; Buys when the market is too high, and panics during the inevitable descent; Still, Pop can always tell the subtle difference between Pepsi and Coke, Has defined the darkness of red at dawn, memorized the splash of poppies along Deserted railway tracks, and opposed the war in Vietnam months before the students, Years before the politicians and press; give him a minute with a road map And he will solve the mystery of bloodshot eyes; transport him to mountaintop And watch him calculate the heaviness and height of the local heavens; Needs no prompting to give money to his kids; speaks French fluently, and tourist German; Sings Schubert in the shower; plays pinball in Paris; knows the new maid steals, and forgives her.