Fall 2009, Volume 7

Poetry by Jeff Epley

The Young Freshman Comp Instructor Ponders

        the Mind-Body Split and His Place on the Grid

While teaching the concepts of unity and coherence,
his gaze turns to Sarah who is, it seems, sketching
Juan sitting next to her.  And Juan is the perfect subject,

elbow on desk, fist to face, ruminating on who knows what
as his eyelids flutter on something outside
himself, a place where words connect bodies, not minds.

George, always in the back, is comma toast—
eyes shuttered, saliva pooling at the crook of his mouth.
His occasional twitch creeps out Diana, the habitual

text messenger, who momentarily punctuates her disgust
with a frown.  But with thumbs full throttle,
she clickety-clacks away to someone somewhere.

Samantha, always up front, is focused, focusing, trying
to focus her attention on the lecture—
her head gyrating into a slow decline and topple

as her pencil records multiple parabolas.  Even David,
always a clarification, always a question, looks
like his torso is about to unhinge and collapse his desk.

It is in this fragment of time, a split thought, a fraction
of inward reflection that the young instructor now,
too, is outside the parameters of freshman composition.

His body leaning against the podium, head tilted,
mouth agape as he stares at the dark
stain in the ceiling tile and wonders if it’s toxic.


BIO: Jeff Epley’s poetry has appeared in The Louisiana Review, Verdad, RipRap, and Pearl, among others, and has been anthologized in Incidental Buildings & Accidental Beauty: An Anthology of Orange County/Long Beach Poets. From 1997 to 2002, he edited Bender Magazine, which has been archived at SUNY Buffalo Special Collections and CSU Long Beach Special Collections. He teaches at Long Beach City College and lives in Long Beach, California with his wife, Marcelle, and his two dogs, Jackson and Roxy.