when Emily said

when Emily said
Success is counted sweetest
she may have been looking
at her neighbor’s lawn
from her parlor window
and thinking
how much Greener those Blades-

but success is not in looking
and thinking about another
(said the poet about the critic)

as much as I like watching
the Academy Awards
that’s not a measure of success
Martin Scorsese should have
a dozen Oscars on his mantle
people should be joking
that his middle name is Oscar
and How Green Was My Valley
is not a better film than Citizen Kane

the success of my students
is not my success
I am only a helper a guide
someone in service to them

I may teach a good lesson
even a series of them
but my students’ learning
is the measure of our mutual success

as a teacher
I may even think
I’ve had a successful year
but then another class
will fill my room
next September

I’m still not sure
when I’ll be able to say
I’m a successful father

/ / /

More thoughts on conveying a truth about success and/or failure. I clearly have been thinking a lot about success. This is the second poem I’ve written to this same prompt, which may be a first for me. You may read yesterday’s poem, or the lack thereof, for comparison/contrast.

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4 thoughts on “when Emily said

  1. I adore the first stanza. Then, watching how you shift to reach the final point. The transitions are interesting. I have a feeling there’s another poem lurking. Not sure why, Richard, but it feels like you have more to say. We’ll see!

    • Margo, thank you. That first stanza was fun to write – my jumping off point. It’s funny, I almost posted a sentence that I had other thoughts banging around in the attic. You are very astute, my friend.

    • De, thank you. Yes, my other poem was more focused – trying to follow a line of thought. Glad you liked the wandering, pondering nature of this one. I had to comment on some of the many measures of my life.

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