Your lesson plans all say “Work on project? Or something?”
Every single glue stick is empty.
No one’s even calling the copier repairman anymore, and people have started storing snacks in the paper trays.
Every day is a jeans day. No one really gave permission, it just happened.
The things you pack for lunch have gotten weirder and weirder. It wouldn’t surprise you to open your lunch bag and find a stick of butter and a bag of frozen spinach.
Students seem shocked when you hand graded papers back. They look at them like, “What is this? Where did it come from? What does it have to do with me?”
The lost and found contains enough items to clothe and educate a child for an entire school year and allow her/him to drink out of a different water bottle every day.
Everything everywhere smells like a dirty sock.
Students say things like, “Why do we still have to do work?” and “When the STAAR test is over, we’re done, right?” with absolutely no irony whatsoever.
Parents have finally realized these kids will be their responsibility again soon and have started sending thank-you notes and chocolate.
The recycle bins are so full, you can finally slip that pile of very-important-things-you-never-got-around-to inside without anyone noticing.
Teachers spend their conference periods bartering for storage space. “I will cover your duty five times next year if I can store two boxes in your closet.” “How many jeans passes will it take for you to keep my textbooks in your built-in shelves?” “I will give you one foot of space in my cabinet for your laptop charger.”
In Advisory, you are now teaching important life skills, such as how to properly stack boxes, remove staples from walls, and repair broken desks.
When a book you haven’t seen in eight months arrives back in your classroom, you reenact the final scene in The Incredible Journey when the boy reunites with his long lost dog.
In the world of literary journals, it’s unheard of for every single submission to be worthy of publication, but that’s exactly what happened with Issue One (and Done) of the Morose Penguin Review. The pieces arrived for my perusal, and not once was I disappointed. (Unless I was supposed to be, in which case, I was, greatly.) The seven poems featured below were written with such dedication, such creativity, such utter moroseness, that I had no choice but to publish them all. I want to thank the poets for their contributions, the penguins for being such inspiring muses, and winter itself, for being so utterly morose.* May you find a little levity, a little light, and a little laughter from the following poems. And may the moroseness of February pass quickly.
* Please pay no attention to the fact that it is currently 65º in Austin, Texas. Trust me, the cedar allergies still make things seem quite morose.
Morose Penguin Review, Issue One (and Done)
by Emily Stubbe
Poor little penguins,
At the bottom of the Earth.
When you go south,
You also go north.
Bio: Emily is an avid reader of failed-polar-exploration non-fiction and does not discriminate based on the pole. She did not like the movie Happy Feet, but in general, has nothing against penguins.
sullen ill-tempered flightless seabird
by Brian Mahoney
white white endless snow
barren wasteland of nothing
worst part, I hate fish
Bio: Brian Mahoney lives in Texas against his will, held hostage by three Texas women. When he’s not writing poetry, which is literally 99% of the time, he enjoys talking to people, inventing perceived slights against his character, and wandering around the comic book shop.
by Ashley B. Davis
An emperor on
a lonely throne, sharply dressed,
waiting for the one
Bio: Ashley B. Davis writes haikus about morose penguins at will. She also drinks coffee, reads, mothers twins, and blogs at www.ashleybdavis.com.
by Diana Conces
it is always darkest just before dawn,
they say, but in winter it’s dark after dawn,
and not that bright at noon either.
birds of a feather flock together,
they say, but body heat brings body smells,
and none of us has bathed since summer.
grin and bear it,
they say. I may have to bear it,
but I refuse to grin about it.
it’s an ill wind that blows no good,
they say, and I agree–it’s a pretty ill wind.
I’m still waiting on the good.
no penguin is an island,
they say. I wish. I wish I was an island,
a tropical one, with plenty of fish.
this too shall pass,
they say. It had better pass soon,
or I may stab them with an icicle.
Bio: Diana L. Conces is a native Texan whose poetry has appeared in numerous print and online publications, a newspaper, and a city bus. She has a blog (https://dianalconces.blogspot.com/) and enjoys jewelry making, knitting, embroidering poetry onto fabric, and various crafty things she has been lured into by Pinterest.
Bio: Pat Kinder is a long-time consumer of chips and salsa who resides in Flower Mound, Texas, with his wife and son and daughter. He enjoys baseball, camping, and reading his sister’s blog in his spare time.
by Claire Vogel Camargo
his courtship calls unanswered
no egg to care for
Bio: Claire Vogel Camargo, author of IRIS OPENING, an ekphrastic collection, has poems in a number of journals and anthologies, a few award-winning. She lives with her husband and Great Dane.
All Dressed Up With Nowhere to Go
by Carie Juettner
Dressing is depressing
when all you have is evening wear,
especially on a continent where
icebergs are plenty
and formal parties few,
and you’re more likely to encounter
a killer whale
than a candlelit dinner for two.
I try not to get my feathers ruffled
over my limited choice of attire,
but it’s hard not to feel bleak
when icicles hang from your beak,
and there’s no Oscars invite in the mail,
and you’re dressed up in black tie and tails.
Bio: Carie Juettner is a teacher, poet, blogger, and the editor of the Morose Penguin Review. She owns no evening wear, but she does have a necklace with a penguin on it.
Thank you for reading the Morose Penguin Review.
Have a lovely day.
Several years ago, at 4:10 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon, I found myself running up some stairs, down a hallway, through a break room, and into an office, yelling, “THE EAGLE HAS RINGWORM!” Why? Because teaching is a really weird job that often makes you say words you never thought would come out of your mouth.
That afternoon’s strange vocalization was brought on by a case of Hindsight Hearing. Hindsight Hearing is when you realize, after the fact, that you heard something that concerns you, and it happens a lot when you’re a middle school teacher. For instance, maybe your students are working in groups. The classroom is loud, but it’s loud in that we’re-being-productive-and-learning sort of way, so you let it go. You’re wandering around the room, checking in on each group, but while you’re talking to one group, your super-teacher hearing is registering, on some subconscious level, what the group next door is saying. Later, during your conference period, while you’re taking ten deep breaths in a row and trying to convince yourself that the stack of grading on your desk won’t eat every minute of your personal time this week, you hear it—that snippet of conversation from three hours ago that lodged itself in your brain.
“If he knows what’s good for him, he’ll stay home tomorrow, because [Name] isn’t messing around.”
And suddenly, you realize there’s a fight planned for tomorrow after school. And you know you now have to spend the rest of your conference period talking to the counselor and the AP instead of making a dent in that pile of papers.
This is Hindsight Hearing. It’s kind of awesome and kind of just really annoying.
In the case of the eagle and the ringworm, it was actually two separate snippets of conversation that floated into my brain during the day and waited until just after the final bell rang to dislodge themselves and make sense.
Student A- “How is that kitten you rescued?” Student B- “Ohmygod, it’s so cute! Oh, but it gave me ringworm…”
Student B- “Guess what? I get to wear the mascot costume at the football game today!”
Cut to me standing in my principal’s office, out of breath, telling her our soon-to-be-mascot has a highly contagious skin condition.
Seriously. You can’t make these things up.
Other Things You Don’t Expect to Say at Work:
“Could you please ask the principal to come to the seventh grade hallway? One of the lockers is vibrating.”
[It turned out to be an electric toothbrush.]
“Emma, will you please cut Patrick’s heart out?”
[Well, he couldn’t cut his own heart out. He injured his hand.]