Celebrating the Release of Reconnaissance

For my students as we catapult toward the end of the semester:

From Reconnaissance:


Bless the first day of class

in its confined clutter. Notebooks

stacked and piled like sculptures

that say to the first lesson, I am ready

for you to feed me. Catapult us

into the realms of academia.

Picture chimpanzees swallowing

pineapple-white sheets in open cages.

Get your hands dirty, I tell them,

love the pages, the print, smell it

and remember papyrus. Break

the spine, hold it up to the light:

tell me who you are, author, tell

me your secrets; help me make sense

of your world. Transmogrify.

Cave dwellers, hierophants—make friends

with the exclamation point, bond

with the asterisk. Play with dirt.

Play with dirty words.

From Four Blue Eggs:

Annotating the Text

I tell my students to take up

their pens, savor the highlighter,

revel in the anticipation of appending

the words we make love to.

Most let their eyes follow the page

but not their untrained hearts, although

timidly, a few scribble whispers

on pages, becoming active, joining

in a dialogue with Bartleby.

One day they might revisit

these tactile memories, permanent

records of their comparative thought,

or maybe one of them

will remember this intimacy

upon finding, deep in the Tragedies,

her mother’s small handwriting
on a copy of Othello, urging Desdemona

to stay the course. One of these daughters

will find buried in the basement

dog-eared, spine broken, her name

underlined with a star next to it.

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