A Poem for “Coming Home” on the Amtrak

Running through the Delta,

horns sounding at invisible intersections, 

this is the Amtrak–Capitol Corridor.

Sometimes you see boys,

men, old men coming home.

Gray sweatshirts and gray t-shirts,

very clean blue jeans are the uniform.

Tats and shaved heads the expectation

fulfilled. Quiet, sitting upright, stiff as board,

thoughtful observers wearing thin wire


The final piece: a heavy-duty, clear plastic garbage bag.

Are these the remnants of incarceration, or of the life before?

Here they are,

visible, an x-ray that tells us absolutely nothing.


home, brother. I am glad you are

free now.

David Henderson’s “3rd World Strike / U.C. Berkeley”

to Ken Mosesh

we have come


to the end of knowledge

when the libraries are full


and there is fighting in the streets

and there is fire in the streets


the pleasant professors

gape out of campus windows


supposition now

instead of fact


from David Henderson’s Neo-California (North Atlantic Books, 1998)

Reflections from MELUS Conference 2013: Random Final Thoughts (on Professionalization, Mostly)

My First MELUS Conference

As graduate students (in English, at least), conferences are a funny thing. Compared to faculty, who attend to present their work, get a sense of what else is going on, and catch up with old friends, maybe visit a new place, graduate students attend with what seems to me to be a sense of anticipation and anxiety. For them, the conference does not yet seem part of their professional lives but one that offers the promise of the kind of professionalism that they aspire to and are yet reminded that it will be the privilege of the very few who can get jobs teaching literature. Thus, the presentation of the paper, the discussions, the Q and A sessions after a major talk, the networking, all of this often seems future rather than present oriented. And if you/we don’t get the job, move into another field, will you/we have enjoyed these moments? Remember them fondly? Are the conversations organic, genuine, or are they strategic, angling for something?

I’m sure that this describes me to a certain extent, but I like to think that I’m also just interested: in the work others do, that I myself do (not as a ticket to somewhere but as thought/ growth/ engagement). I like to think that I’m interested in listening, in observing, in talking with others no matter who they are. As dumb as it might sound, I hope that the human in me and not (or not just) the laborer/professional is better from a conference. Continue reading Reflections from MELUS Conference 2013: Random Final Thoughts (on Professionalization, Mostly)