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On Valentine’s Day, I handed out my haiku postcard to my High Beginner ESL class at LaGuardia Community College. I had been teaching the class since October, and this being the second semester, some new students were added. Jing Yi, an old student, was the only student who returned the postcard to me with something he had written.

I love teaching, and wish I had started earlier than I did at the age of fifty. The good thing is, I can teach till I’m dead, which may happen any day now, or I may continue on for a decade or two. When you are going on seventy-four, there is no telling. One just wakes up in the morning and begins anew.

My Greek 101 professor, Dr. Jean Bram, was eighty-four and looked like Socrates wearing lipstick. Sometimes when she lifted the chalk to write, she farted. She often recited Latin poetry, and French and Italian Renaissance poetry, and parts of the New Testament in Greek. It was Dr. Bram who told me that in the original Greek the angels who sing at Christ’s birth, don’t sing: “Peace on earth, good will toward men,” but, “Peace on earth toward men of good will,” which means something entirely different.

What is fame? From the get go I’ve wanted to write poetry good enough to last the ages as poems by Emily Dickinson or Shakespeare or Langston Hughes are remembered. But the world is in bad shape and soon people escaping climate change will have no time for reciting poetry while they are treading water.

Fame will be forgotten while the reverberation of a good deed rippling from one to the other may be the only thing that lasts. Love and be kind, and be satisfied with that.


  1. John

    That is high praise, my friend!

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