I was struck by the “hey”
in his email to me, his teacher.
Forget the grammatical mistakes,
misspellings, and missing words.
Forget the impossible task
of deciphering what he wanted.
“Hey,” as if I were a bum
who had just pissed in his pants,
as if I were working at McDonald’s
taking his order of a Bachelor Degree,
as if I were his little puppy that barked,
spun, and fetched the stick he threw
in the putrid water of academia.
A car alarm went off. I looked out
my window. A crowd gathered
up the street. Someone shouting,
pushing. I put on my corduroy jacket,
a gift from my parents for earning
a Ph.D. in American Studies.
My seventh class, in another college
up the 605, awaited me. I stopped
at my desk, gulped down black coffee,
typed: “Dear Connor. Thank you so much
for your message. My apologies. . . .”
BUNKONG TUON is a Cambodian-American writer and critic. He is the author of Gruel, And So I Was Blessed (both published by NYQ Books), The Doctor Will Fix It (Shabda Press), and Dead Tongue (a chapbook with Joanna C. Valente, Yes Poetry). He teaches at Union College, in Schenectady, NY. He tweets @BunkongTuon