–apologies to Osip Mandelstam1
We are living, but can’t feel the land where we stay,
More than ten steps away you can’t hear what we say.
But if people would talk on occasion,
They should mention the Tangerine Caucasian.
His thick fingers are bulky and fat like live-baits,
And his accurate words are as heavy as weights.
His orange jowls are quaking and screaming,
And his boot-tops are shining and gleaming.
But around him a crowd of thin-necked henchmen,
And he plays with the services of these half-men.
Some are whistling, some meowing, some sniffing,
He’s alone booming, poking and whiffing.
He is forging his rules and decrees like horseshoes –
Into groins, into foreheads, in eyes, and eyebrows.
Every killing for him is delight,
Beneath the red cap, his smirk wide.
Thinking about the current state of COVID infections tearing through the United States in general and the White House in particular, having the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force show up last night as a gaunt, translucent specter with sunken, bloodshot eyes, puckered cold sores, and swarming with flies was a bit too on the nose.
Actual question asked by an actual student during the actual algebra exam he was currently taking in my class this morning:
I can’t remember how to solve this kind of problem. Can you walk me through it, step-by-step?
Student: Um, yeah, professor… I’m asking for an extension on the exam. I don’t know if you know this or not, but your lectures haven’t been livestreaming for, like, the last two weeks. I haven’t been able to understand the material on my own, and I need some more time.
Me: The lectures haven’t been livestreamed because we no longer have students in active quarantine. I announced this two weeks ago in class and on the livestream last Monday. You didn’t see that?
Me: You didn’t read the email I sent out about it either?
Me: Or read the statement I posted on D2L?
Me: So the class video feed disappears… for two weeks… utterly unexpected to you… and it never occurred to you ask why?
Student: So can I have the exam extension?
Fun fact: almost all of my emails for the past two weeks could have been answered with the following image.