From the Vaults: Boring Class Sestina

One April day on 2002 (if my files are to be trusted) I gave myself a challenge. Could I write a complete sestina about how boring a particular class was during one session of that class? I succeeded. No, I don’t remember what we covered that day. Eighteen years later and a former professor myself, I apologize for my lack of attention. If it’s any comfort, I’m not sure the resulting poem is actually any good. But it’s a sestina about a boring class, so if you like that sort of thing, here’s the kind of thing you’ll like.

Boring Class Sestina
by Jessica Lévai

It’s in a basement room that we hold class,
Where sun struggles through the tiny windows
And offers little warmth or light.
I’m waiting for the professor
To shuffle through his scattered notes
For the lecture, which never starts on time.

You’d think, with all the time
I have to spend sitting in this class,
That I would take some better notes.
Instead I doodle, stare out the windows,
And nod off when the professor
Uses a projector and turns off the light.

For all the material, our workload is light.
The reading never takes too much time,
And the results seem to please the professor,
Who has no clear plan for this class.
A spring day lies beyond the windows,
But we’re stuck shivering over our notes.

It’s not a total loss, I guess. Note —
Sometimes there is a little light
Shed on obscure topics through the window
Of digression. Still, we waste a lot of time.
It may not seem so to the class,
Who really seem to like this professor.

Sometimes I want to shout, “Hey, Professor!
Is it written in your notes
That you should suck the fun out of this class?”
I keep hoping I will see a light
Go on inside his head, or mine, this time,
And everything will become clear, like windows.

He turns off the projector, uncovers the windows,
And resumes his place up front. The professor
Sees that we’re nearly out of time,
Though he hasn’t gotten through half his notes.
I can’t wait to be released to the light
Outside, to forget my hours spent in class.

I feel so light, on the other side of the windows,
Away from professor and notes,
Enjoying my time until the next class.
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