Emily Dickinson, Repurposed

“Embarrassing” emerged recently as the word of the day at the University of Michigan, after its Office of University Development recommended “key words” and phrases to a poetry fellow in a ham-fisted attempt to help her compose a poem for the inauguration of the school’s new President (Chronicle of Higher Education, April 25th online).  

Inaugural poems are commonplace in higher education, but University Life readers might not know that many colleges and universities also commission short poems when a President leaves the institution in disgrace.  Here’s a sampling from the past three years, organized by reason for dismissal.  In order to avoid adding insult to injury, the schools are not identified. 

Embezzlement of Funds

Pell Grant money, stolen

Where did that yacht come from?

May it sink

Ever so slowly

Into the Mariana Trench

With you below deck, dear President

Squealing like a mischief of sewer rats in a burlap sack

Thrown from a bridge

Sexual Misconduct

Couldn’t keep it in your pants

Could you?

You disgust us

Please zip up before leaving

We don’t want you scaring the earthworms

Lack of Commitment to Shared Governance

All we wanted 

Was to work with you

But of course

That was too much to ask

Of a narcissist

Get out

Overall Ineffectiveness

What were we thinking

When we hired an Oreck like you?

You suck at your job

Tone Deafness

At commencement you proclaimed

“Harry Belafonte was my favorite Negro”

And then you sang “Day-O”

HUGE mistake

So, so huge

Mind-Numbing Stupidity

“Ron DeSantis may have a point”

You said so at the General Faculty Meeting

No, he doesn’t have a point

And every breath you take

Is one too many

Finally, poetry for the 21st century.