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18-49



A Visit from St. Zachary

'Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the house
not a new piece of clothing, not even a blouse.
The papers were graded with consummate care
in hopes that my students would say I was fair.
The pencils were nestled all snug with their lead
while visions of movie screens danced in my head.
And my Lab in his collar and I in my cap
lay down on my loveseat to take a long nap,
when out on the lawn there arose such a hubbub,
I turned to my dog and asked him, Wassup, Bub?
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
tore open my notebook to show some panache.
The sun on the drops of new-fallen rain
gave a hint of the warming we hope to restrain,
when what to my bloodshot eyes did appear
but a yard full of students, some heads dulled by beer.
More sluggish than turtles the stragglers they came
and I whistled and shouted and called them by name:
Now, Jaedyn! Now, Kaelyn! Now, Lucas and Lizzie!
On, Vixen with short shorts that make my head dizzy!
Put your cellphones away, read the sign on my wall,
take those dang earbuds off—I'm done with them all!
And then, from the bushes, I heard someone say,
Is it true that we must have our textbooks today?
As I drew in my breath and was turning around,
down the driveway St. Zachary came with a bound.
He was wearing no headphones and chomping no chaw,
and he knew where to place a comma and clause.
A bundle of stories he'd flung on his back
and he looked like St. Nicholas opening his pack.
His verbs—how they twinkled! His headlines—how merry!
His leads were like roses, his prose like a cherry!
His sweet little kickers were tied like a bow,
and his nut graphs were followed by just the right quote.
He was timely and stirring, an eloquent elf,
and I smiled when I read him, in spite of myself.
His narrative leads and well-crafted heads
soon helped me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word but went straight to his work,
not at all like some pothead or arrogant jerk.
Using no danglers, not padding his prose,
up and beyond the grade scale he rose.
At the end of the hour I gave him a shout
and told him it's time for an internship bout.
But I heard him exclaim as he walked out of sight—
It's Christmas, Professor. Go have a Bud Light!

by Margaret DeRitter

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Margaret DeRitter taught journalism at Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College and is a writer and poetry editor for Encore magazine. She won this year’s Celery City Chapbook Contest, and her first full-length poetry collection is due out in 2020 from Unsolicited Press. Some of her feature stories can be found at encorekalamazoo.com/search/node/deritter and encorekalamazoo.com/features-full-life-poetry