Friday, March 14, 2008

Poetry Friday - School Stuff

This poem reminds me of teaching. Students always imagine that nothing can happen when they are not there. It was shared with me yesterday by an eighth grade teacher who is starting a poetry unit. It's from Poetry 180. Great resource!

Did I Miss Anything?
Tom Wayman

Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 percent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 percent

Nothing. None of the content of this course has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose

Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel
or other heavenly being appeared
and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
to attain divine wisdom in this life and the hereafter
This is the last time the class will meet
before we disperse to bring the good news to all people on earth.

Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?

Everything. Contained in this classroom
is a microcosm of human experience
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
This is not the only place such an opportunity has been

but it was one place

And you weren’t here

From Did I Miss Anything? Selected Poems 1973-1993, 1993
Harbour Publishing

Copyright 1993 Tom Wayman.
All rights reserved.


  1. Welcome to PF! That's a cool poem, the last part, especially.

  2. I really love this poem. Especially how it bounces back and forth between nothing and everything. Therein lies truth.

  3. Love it love it love it. When my students come back to school and ask me, "Did I miss anything?" I always answer with one word:
    They look at me and say, "Wha----?"
    I say, "That's it. We skated. All day. Sorry you missed it."
    Beth Fehlbaum, author
    Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse


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