Chuck

Sunset, Izmir, Turkey 2019. Photo by John Palmer Gregg

It doesn’t seem odd that you’re gone from the world;
Rather, it seems impossible that the world exists, here, without you in it.
Here are these preposterous trees, plants, conducting photosynthesis
Tiny animals being born,
Children learning to read.
For some reason, major media outlets continue
To report the news, as if
Anything new could happen now
Or human history could continue to progress
Without you.

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On the Verge of Turning 40

I teach high schoolers
On the verge of graduation
So-called “seniors”
Who were children just the other day.
Intoxicated with the weightless gravity
Of their newfound independence,
They drive, and vote,
And use the restroom
Without taking the hall pass with them.

Can you remember?
What it was like
For that fleeting moment,
The sensation you were standing on top of the whole world
The universe stretched before you, full of
Endless possibility
You could do anything, be anything
You could get a tattoo of your favorite internet meme
Immortalized on your backside
Without parental permission.

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We lost a baby

I say by way of explanation
To my colleague in the Math Department,
A justification for the
Discrepancy in the math:
Five pregnancies but only four at home,
Three girls and a boy.
I want credit for that fifth pregnancy,
The hardest of them all, even though half as long,
As if it were some achievement to put on my resume
Instead of my body’s greatest failing.

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A Surprising Land of Splendor – Part 3

Chapter 4: A Tender Coming-of-Age Story
(complete with wolves and bunnies)

Every tour guide knows how to fill those three hours on the bus trip between landmarks: tell a good story. If I’ve learned anything in my years on both sides of the mathematics classroom, it’s that the more impersonal and crystalline the subject matter, the more we crave the “I-Thou” connection between teachers and learners that comes from the telling of our stories. I’ve had my share of textbook teachers over the years—the ones who stick to the subject at hand without giving away the slightest whiff of their own heartbeat or dream life. But I’ve also been blessed by those willing to tell me their memories, their own metaphors, their own glimpses out the window on their journey through math. I suppose the least I can do for you is share a bit of my own.

Do you remember learning to drive? Do you remember what motivated you to learn?

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A Surprising Land of Splendor – Part 2

Interlude

Here’s what I’m asking you to forget: I want you to put away from your mind the pain of Mrs. Roger’s classroom, the slick palms and trembling twelve-year-old voice, as you searched the back of your classmate’s head for an answer, any plausible answer; the two trains were running towards each other on the same track, one at 60 miles per hour, and one at 80; when would they meet? And the absurdity of asking that question among all others. Would there be survivors? Would the explosion be heard for hundreds of miles around? Is it too late right now to board one of those trains, and be delivered from Mrs. Roger’s expectant stare?

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