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With Tenure

 If Ezra Pound were alive today
 (and he is)
he'd be teaching
at a small college in the Pacific Northwest
and attending the annual convention
of writing instructors in St.
Louis and railing against tenure, saying tenure is a ladder whose rungs slip out from under the scholar as he climbs upwards to empty heaven by the angels abandoned for tenure killeth the spirit (with tenure no man becomes master) Texts are unwritten with tenure, under the microscope, sous rature it turneth the scholar into a drone decayeth the pipe in his jacket's breast pocket.
Hamlet was not written with tenure, nor were written Schubert's lieder nor Manet's Olympia painted with tenure.
No man of genius rises by tenure Nor woman (I see you smile).
Picasso came not by tenure nor Charlie Parker; Came not by tenure Wallace Stevens Not by tenure Marcel Proust Nor Turner by tenure With tenure hath only the mediocre a sinecure unto death.
Unto death, I say! WITH TENURE Nature is constipated the sap doesn't flow With tenure the classroom is empty et in academia ego the ketchup is stuck inside the bottle the letter goes unanswered the bell doesn't ring.

Poem by David Lehman
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