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Saturday, May 10, 2014


by Ann Bracken

Image source: Precarious Faculty Rising

She feels frustrated
as she rumbles around in cramped offices
with all the people shouting
Words don’t matter.
Especially when she hears graduates
of the university
referred to as output.

When people become output
there is no need for nurture.
Sewage pipes have output,
as do factories that churn out row after row
of standardized parts.

In cramped classrooms and windowless lecture halls
teachers are gauged by their productivity--
here every human complexity is reduced
to a series of data points, quantified and measured,
success or failure—positive or negative output.

These days she no longer relishes
seeing joy or surprise or the flash
of an ah-ha moment on her students’ faces.
Instead of planning for a field-trip to the meadow
for a sensory experience,
she spends time trying to quantify
commitment, measure amazement
and determine a cut score for
how much inspiration one needs
for a journey into the unknown.

Ann Bracken is an educator and writer whose poetry, essays, and interviews have appeared in the Little Patuxent Review, Reckless Writing Anthology: Emerging Poets of the 21st Century,  Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence, Life in Me Like Grass on Fire:Love Poems, Praxilla, New Verse News, Scribble, The Museletter, and The Gunpowder Review. Ann’s poem, “Mrs. S” was nominated for a 2014 Pushcart Prize. In addition to teaching professional writing at the University of Maryland College Park and working as a poet in the schools, Ann presents frequently at writing and creativity conferences including Mindcamp of Toronto, Florida Creativity, the Maryland Writers’ Association, the Association of Independent Maryland Schools, and The Creative Problem Solving Institute.