No new diplomas
to unroll

or mortarboards

(or lofty speech
assuring dreamers
they may reach)

just failed exams

electives dropped

professors lost

commencements stopped

when no one stands to graduate
from histories which illustrate
some course of action in reverse
creates a crisis even worse
than any text or test would cover.

At any moment we'd discover
curriculum looms everywhere,
beyond the blackboard, desk, and chair,
if we admit humility
should be our university
whose faculty includes the past,
experiences small and vast,
mistakes, with failure as the dean,
degrees conferred by what we'd glean.

Alumni of antiquities,
let's educate futurities.

Valedictory © Copyright 2021, Robert J. Tiess.

View this poem at

Originally submitted to the Goodbye brevity challenge prompt - link:

(Note: this poem was revised and expanded substantially after the above poetry challenge, where the word count was limited to 70.)
Submitted: May 17, 2020