The Cambridge Companion to Academic Dipshits. A Poem by R.W. Haynes

A fat old parrot’s fine impersonation
Of a dean, on YouTube, set our friend a laughing
Which he couldn’t stop. It turned to coughing,
And he died, sort of happy, at his station.
We found in his desk, stashed carelessly,
An ancient manuscript he was translating
From Sicilian Greek, a tragedy dating
From Plato’s time, and indeed relating
To the philosopher, for his great enemy
Dionysius the First of Syracuse
Wrote the play to defend his tyranny
Against Plato’s defense of liberty
And attack on his autocratic abuse,
Tyranny raging against philosophy.
Do we moralize against tyranny,
Although small fish, but not so small
As delicious minnows on whom we fall
With glittering eyes, slobberingly?
Do these ideas–rained upon our minds,
Like mud rain in Laredo–elevate
Consciousness toward the great
Hovering supremacy philosophy finds?
Our dead associate, with his dramatic Greek
Representation of a fictional fight
In which dialogue produced lurid light,
Urges our lethargy to think and speak.
Have we reason to listen to that urgency
Or indeed to reason, whose puritan whine
Is likely at times to somewhat undermine
Its specious claim of authority?
“I’d rather be right with Plato,” someone said.
But what does it matter when we all are dead?
So now they have sabotaged a Chaucer class…
Ho hum. They did the same for Tragedy,
And who can blame a stupid clown or an ass
For despising Oedipus or Antigone?
Brainlessness is not some contagion
But, in our non-Platonic academe,
A status quo, the vacuous conversation
Of envious imbeciles with bulging eyes agleam.
The best one can do in this fools’ competition
Is sometimes to put a stick in the machine
And briefly delay the supremely ignorant mission
Carefully strategized by Satan and the dean.
Let no one dying here view with surprise
Dung-beetles circling, with burning little eyes.

On the Savannah River 2013
R. W. Haynes has taught literature at Texas A&M International University since 1992. His recent interests include the early British sonnet, and he is completing a second book on the Texas playwright and screenwriter Horton Foote (1916-2009). In his poetry, Haynes seeks to celebrate life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without sounding any more dissonant notes than he has to. In fiction, he works toward grasping that part of the past which made its mark on his generation. He enjoys teaching drama, especially the Greeks, Ibsen, and Shakespeare, and he devoutly hopes for a stunning literary Renaissance in South Texas.

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