|Inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales"
Proceeding the days of a Mid-Summer’s night,
When the stormy season is at its full might,
It is said where I come from everyone knows
That in the crevice of the valleys it rains a lot and the wind always blows.
And how that wind howls in the drums of the ears,
You’d swear that a hurricane was drawing near.
All the flapping flags dance the Tango with the trees;
Not a twig, not a leaf, nor a thread rests at ease.
In one great gust, garbage and debris clutter the streets:
If it took five seconds to spread, picking up took five weeks.
The fancy fashions of human hair frolic in waves;
On cue, red, blonde, black, and brunette shades act in craze.
Shop windows rattle and screen doors bang
As squirrels scurry around a metropolis tree ring.
When the gods forge their power and grumble in the heat,
Sparks of lightning illuminate the sky while the beat
Of the thunder rumbles, strutting its masculine perverse.
It’s like watching a fire works display in reverse.
And while the fluidity of this musical is consummate and whole,
It must not be forgotten to mention the most crucial role:
The rain drops collide with car roofs, ping, ping, ping,
Making the subtle, violent beat of this rousing.
Such was the nature of the valleys as the wind blew,
During the season that few loved and even fewer looked forward to.
Now it occurred on a particular day of this season
That a most violent storm arose without rhyme or reason.
It happened that because of the hindsight of a small school,
A friend and I found ourselves treading water and looking like fools.
Having missed our bus and attempting to reach an empty place,
A gust of wind came up and forced us into refuge, defeating the race.
When all seemed for nothing, that we’d be all day in prison,
A teacher from the school did arrive for our liberation.
If I dare comment on this man’s demeanor,
Allow me to admit that you will find no one weirder.
He was a corpulent and rather short fellow,
With a round belly and legs that were shallow.
He drove a small old Mazda back and forth to the school,
Never picking up students as a rule.
His hooked nose held up his glasses,
Concealing gray, hawk-like eyes that pierced masses.
He often said that to him no student could lie.
With a scholar’s air, he wore a business suit and tie.
Three pens and a pencil lined the pocket of his dress shirt.
His high polished leather shoes never harbored a speck of dirt.
Coined currency always jingled in his pockets
And he stored folding money in alligator skin wallets.
On his wrist he wore a shiny gold Rolex watch.
Of his dress, no one in this school could match.
The hair on his crown was already receded;
His head shined and made a good mirror if you needed.
His lips were thin and covered by a thick bushy beard.
The triangular shape of his teeth was very weird.
On his chubby fingers, his nails were manicured.
On his left hand, his thumb was scarred.
Enclosing a flabby Mount that called for an early night,
A long lifeline trailed the palm of his right.
Always smelling of apple cinnamon, never of cologne,
It was his choice to be alone.
However, he constantly worked for his community,
Offering his knowledge and experience freely.
So this is how he passed his time without family:
Helping out and teaching his students all he knew gleefully.
He believed that everyone had a right to his opinion,
But it was his duty to hear all of their opinions.
Such a humorous person to meet during orientation,
You could count on students racing to his class the following day in anticipation.
Never a boring teacher and usually concise,
He advised that this was always wise.
Still, he did have a sense of arrogance in his agents,
His intelligence carried away when he went off on tangents.
Sometimes he went off on stories of his accomplishments
Or applied too much criticism to topic appointments.
Although, if you kept on his better side,
With nothing of guilt or contentment to hide,
He was an enjoyable person in casual conversation.
This brings you and me to the reason of our association.
The teacher very much loved to talk.
In fact, he did it more than he walked.
After climbing into the rusty old car with him,
He decided to entertain us with a story of rhythm.
The winds were powerful and threw the little car.
We dodged debris the storm marred.
Across an intersection blew a chicken with bad luck;
A cat’s nails scraped across the windshield of a truck
As the cat attempted to hold on for its life.
Outside the tension could be cut with a knife.
But inside we were drying off, warm, and weak.
In this spirit, the Teacher began to speak.
To the cafe a few miles away we raced.
His words came at an incredibly fast pace.
Most of what he said I could follow,
But because of his speed, some of this story is hollow.
Prologue to the Teacher’s Tale
Now that I am doing you two a favor,
Some thoughts I have for you that you may savor.
In the course of my teaching career
I’ve upset many students, whose tempers would seer
At the sight of that good-for-nothing-rat-bastard Mr. Shall
Approaching them as they staggered in the hall.
I would scold kids for being late to class,
Lecture them on how the waste of their education was crass.
Without a pass, some heathen troublemakers never left my room,
And when out of line, I hit the earlier ones on the head with a broom.
I’m still as slick as oil when extracting confessions.
Students slip and slide on their alibis when I ask questions.
For example, a few years back I supervised a study hall
And the mischievousness of a few students was overlooked by all.
They fancied hurling waded paper, erasers, and rubber bands
Into the air and across the room to their friends.
They sat behind me and I could never really catch them.
The students sitting around their band wouldn’t rat on them.
Until one day I called down a student who sat behind their group,
Inquired how she was doing and whether she needed help.
From a distance no one could decipher our conversation.
After she returned to her seat, I took advantage of this observation.
I called down the close buddy of the kid who threw something
And accused the buddy of doing the rule breaking,
Claiming that I had an eyewitness and the buddy’s penalty would be citation.
Wouldn’t you know the reaction, at the threat of citation and accusation?
My trick worked like a curious charm.
Without realizing his defense would do any harm,
He blurted out, “I didn’t do it; he (my friend) threw it!”
He then realized I’d made of him a puppet.
Boys, if you ever become teachers, remember this,
You’ll always catch the rule breaker by cornering a friend of his.
Students also disliked me in my younger days,
When I taught science and gave tests in evil ways.
Most students love multiple choice question tests,
But they hated mine, for my questions were the best.
I asked questions that could have several solutions, you see,
Providing answers: A, B, C, D: A and B, E: None of these.
The grumbles I incited when students got back evaluations
Truly humored me at how poorly they prepared their calculations.
But that time is gone and now I instruct history.
Students like me better now because exams have no misery.
I’m still as strict as I ever was when outside my room.
But inside, I’m more laid back and straight forward too.
Joking around with students keeps them attentive and wanting to hear.
The points of lessons I have to get across reach every ear,
For education should be enjoyed while learning.
So, all my classes have been full, ten years running,
While some teachers have less than half a class.
They, like me, teach the same courses in mass.
So, to my students I share an anecdote,
And to you I will recite one a friend wrote.
The Teacher’s Tale
Crass college students always attended the university of this professor,
Whose lectures were interesting and tests always fair, or
Almost fair, as that he periodically gave quick quizzes on minute points.
Yet, these students lived to party and smoke their joints.
They attended raves where smoking, drinking, and loud music rule,
And toward their bodies, it would be modest to say, they were quite cruel.
They simultaneously smoked more cancerous Camels than all of New York City,
To which early deaths could rightly demand no pity.
Ever their livers made more and more inferior,
They drank enough beer and hard liquor to fill Lake Superior.
The loud racket students called contemporary music (only good
In its silent form) assaulted their ears like thick nails on a chalkboard would.
So accompanying these three factors of social gathering,
Sleep often took these students in the early morning,
Causing absence during classes and examinations.
Having invoked the need to lie, with great exclamations
And wild stories, most managed scheduling to be retested.
But at the rate at which students cussed and jested,
Condemned their exams as unfair and savored their own wit,
It’s no wonder that professors often had a fit.
Unto the day that our professor decided to get even,
After students abuse of trust for years, about seven,
He brooded over the waste of their money and time.
“Like theft,” he asked, “why can’t their actions be a crime?”
Indeed, it was like students stealing parents’ property,
Without responsibility, elegance, or sense of propriety.
Then, one year, the professor got two of these students to teach.
He immediately saw a way for his influence to reach.
With these two particular students nothing was quite right.
Speculate their disposition we might.
Some on campus said that their weirdness was dull,
But most believe that their heaviest downfall
Was that their brains were three sizes too small.
They could not answer any questions at all,
Nor could they come up with a decent story.
Yes, the professor saw his chance to change campus policy
When the pair stumbled into his office three hours late.
An important exam was administered on the morning of that date.
The two of them had been up North to another school
Where they partied, drank, and broke into the pool.
Late into the night they passed out,
Not starting for home early enough on the return route.
But this is not what they told the professor of history
As they looked upon his paper smothered oak desk with faces in misery.
Instead, they fibbed, a lie the professor saw right through.
In his calculating smile, he knew just what to do.
The two stooges claimed that they had been north
On the previous night and visited some relatives worth
Seeing after the death of a great uncle.
On the return trip their hopes did crumble
When one of the back tires of their truck went flat.
They did everything they could to try and get back,
But they were ten miles away from the nearest town
And no other cars could be seen at 4:00 a.m. for miles around.
It was the oldest excuse in the Lying Your Way out of an Exam for Dummies book.
The professor stared on, shaking his head with an understanding look.
When they finished, the professor immediately sent a plan into action.
With the tip of his pen and two slips of paper, he printed some directions.
“Since you boys are of an honest nature,
I shall be a humble and sympathizing creature.
I’m sorry that your great uncle has passed away.
He must have been a great man in life. Anyway,
I shall allow you to make up your exam tomorrow morning.
You will report to this location at 7:00 a.m. for your testing.
Have a good day and good luck!”
The students left their professor’s office and got in their truck,
Drove back to their dormitory and went to bed.
“We fooled that old bird,” one of them said.
“Yeah, a dead great uncle and a flat tire,
“That combination only a genius could inspire.”
And they settled in and went to sleep,
Unaware of the trick they would soon meet.
The following morning they met as instructed
And they were shown into separate rooms, both insulated.
These rooms were used for orchestra lessons.
Every sound, no matter how loud, infinitely lessens
Before it reaches outside to the people passing.
Clearly there would be no possibility of talking.
The professor issued a test to each student.
They were allotted one hour, pacing would have been prudent.
With triumphant smiles, they began.
Neither of the two was the same again.
In points, the first question was worth fifteen:
“Which two nations were the leading Western European powers after 1713?”
The students could not believe how simple the questions were.
Then, they turned the page and discovered what fools they really were.
In points, the fourth question was worth fifty-five:
“Which back tire?”
I want you boys to remember that lying will never get you anywhere.
Eventually, it catches up with you, and you’ll pay too high a fare.
For in such a deceiving and dishonoring business
One gains nothing but disrespect and loneliness.