My Last Students

H. R. Stoneback

“The curtain I have drawn for you . . .”

    -Robert Browning, My Last Duchess

        For AS, JC & NLL, December 7, 2019


For fifty years I taught on Tuesday nights

so many graduate seminars—Faulkner,

Hemingway, Warren, Ballads—all that talking,

so much Tuesday-talking, rhythm of life


well-lived. And now this thing they call retirement.

Of course, I’ll keep on talking down the roads

of all the world, one-shot visiting keynotes,

lectures, poetry readings, faces always different


nevermore the same faces every Tuesday

the depth and passion of earnest glances,

hearts made glad by perfect sentences,

curtains opened in profound and amused ways—


it happened every Tuesday half a century.

But now at last it’s curtains for the classroom.

And if the road brings weary gathering gloom

rows of faces linger as I stand Sentry—


listening for the password to Eternity

   or maybe just another Tuesday


Shawangunk Review Volume XXXI Copyright © 2020 by H. R. Stoneback. All Rights Reserved.

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