Charles W. Johnson

Original: 11 March 1998, Auburn, AL
Current: 12 July 1998, Auburn, AL (retitled 11 April 1999)

Unless you have gone to Auburn High School, you probably don't know who Ms. Nix is. However, I'm sure many have had a teacher like her: the bitter Chemistry teacher whose only joy in life seems to come from making the students' lives miserable. One day in her class, I began thinking about how I couldn't see her as a Biology teacher, because she simply had no ability to cope with anything living. The original version of this poem was written in my notebook during her class. I sent it to a friend a while ago for her review, and she pointed out that although she liked the poem, it was a bit awkward and the rhymes a bit forced at times. I went back and fixed it up; she told me that she liked the final version a lot, and so here we are. I think it's the only (somewhat) rhymed poem I've put serious effort into in the past three years.

- CWJ, 11 December 1998


If she could, I think she would
become nothing more than wire-rims,
a sturdy desk, and a grating voice,
invisible and safe from being human.
Carefully burying all her fancies
with facts of molar mass and cations,
her heart burned by someone (an exothermic reaction,
combustion leaving only fumes and carbon).
A sickly grin and that voice emerges,
contradicting all the students' answers;
then she turns back again to grading papers,
and is happy for a moment with dead powders.
She is not one cut out for teaching;
perhaps the only thing to insulate her
from coping is to analyze the students
as proteins, lipids, carbohydrates,
heterogeneous mixtures of mostly water.

Written and maintained by Charles W. Johnson (
Copyright 1998 by Charles W. Johnson.
All rights reserved.