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Wednesday, May 14, 2008 12:12 am

People's poetry

Jacqueline Jackson presents

Untitled Document ecopoem #11          

coming in august to uis
our newest residence hall
announcement with pictures
“founders hall” in honor of
our founders it will go green
have a leafy roof as one of
those founders yes a few
of us are still around I will
donate a pair of goats to live
on the roof keep it trimmed
what pleasure for us below
and oh how small will be
their carbon hoofprints


© Jacqueline Jackson 2008

Though at the time it may not occur to us to call it “mentoring,” there’s likely to be a good deal of that sort of thing going on, wanted or unwanted, whenever a young person works for someone older. Richard Hoffman of Massachusetts does a good job of portraying one of those teaching moments in this poem.
Summer Job
“The trouble with intellectuals,” Manny, my boss, once told me, “is that they don’t know nothing till they can explain it to themselves.      A guy like that,”
he said, “he gets to middle age — and by the way, he gets there late; he’s trying to be a boy until he’s forty, forty-five, and then you give him five more years until that craziness peters out,      and now he’s almost fifty — a guy like that at last explains to himself that life is made of time, that time is what it’s all about. Aha! he says. And then he either blows his brains out, gets religion, or settles down to some major-league depression. Make yourself useful. Hand me that three-eights torque wrench — no, you moron, the other one.”

Poem copyright © 2006 by Richard Hoffman, and reprinted from his most recent book of poetry, Gold Star Road (Barrow Street Press, 2007). Introduction copyright (c) 2008 by The Poetry Foundation. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Ted Kooser served as the U.S. poet laureate 2004-2006. For more information, go to www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.
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