Ambitious Dream Number Twenty-Three
Well, the thirteen-member search committee
in last night’s bourbon and coke
dialed me up again at two AM
to flatter the cut of my CV’s jib
and offer me an interview on campus.
The chairwoman’s voice,
all honeysuckle and real sweet tea,
told me they would very much like
the chance to observe me
teaching the good, the true, and the beautiful,
and improving, meanwhile, the grammar
of this spring’s eighteen-year-olds
in their unnatural habit,
high on independence and video games
and rookie sex, and aspiring generally
to the smart life’s wealth and leisure.
This time I’d be headed to a lovely college hamlet
on the moon of eastern nowhere, not so far
from where an unemployed starlet
and her handyman raised me
in the 80s to put my pants on
both legs simultaneously, broad jumping
boldly into those waist-deep puddles
of khaki. I had roots there—
above ground maybe,
like those of an oak laid low by tornados,
but they were still fine roots
and I made certain the right folks saw them.
Y’all are too kind, I said.
Dr. Sweet Tea smiled through the phone
and explained to me how impressed
they’d all been with the vulnerability
I’d shown submitting a headshot
with my bulbous nose and, in lieu
of the traditional cover letter, a ten-page inventory
of the many great shames
I keep in my heart’s refrigerator.
She particularly responded to the juicier sirloins
I’ve been marinating since high school:
that athletic awards ceremony, for instance,
at which, from the back of the room, I thought
I heard Coach call my name
for “most offensive player of year.”
I had climbed the stage
and strolled partway towards him
when I recognized my error
and the rightful winner already there
to shake the dignitaries’ hands—
Coach, the principal, the bald AD,
all of them turning to stare—
No, I tried to interrupt her,
I sent you no such thing. But she kept on,
how they couldn’t wait to meet
my nose, how they knew in their spleens
that I was going places
even if I was only going there in poems.
Tuesday evening after a sit-down with the dean,
a brief parade in my honor
would double as a tour of campus,
all of it followed by a department potluck
at the Medievalist’s apartment,
and if I could bring a side dish, that’d be great.
GEORGE DAVID CLARK’s Reveille (Arkansas, 2015) won the Miller Williams Prize and his recent poems can be found in AGNI, The Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. The editor of 32 Poems, he teaches creative writing at Washington and Jefferson College and lives in western Pennsylvania with his wife and their four young children.