Poems on Retirement

Lucky Retirement

By Joe Oppenheimer, UMCP

Can’t believe I’m retired
now, not in ’67.
Then, being sent to heaven
was the USN option.

How did I retire instead
of dying on that hospital bed?
We had no meds in boot camp.
Those supplies went for Nam’s dead.
Lacking paper in the stalls,
we wiped our shit on the walls.

Why’d I get to retire when
all my company was sent
to the USS Liberty
only to be blown up at sea?

How could I retire when
others lost their entire
fortune, forced to become
greeters – days spent in some
K-Mart, Wal-Mart nothing place
wearing a fixed smiling face?

The dice were nice
when they rolled for me.
Friends say, ‘you deserved it.’
Others? ‘The bastard’s lucky.’


Robert Deluty, UMBC*

retiring prof
gently informing the dean
he’s ruining the school

physics professor
giving his last lecture on
a unicycle

at commencement . . .
the retiring instructor
mooning graduates

*He is not now retiring. But perhaps his poems reflect his plans?

Change Times Four

By Bill Hanna, UMCP*

“Do you want to MOOC?”
Said a dean to me,
And I thought he meant
Spike Lee’s Mookie.
But soon I knew
It was technology:
Conversing with a camera
With no students to see?!
Thus alone, I surely would flee.
And so no MOOC for me!

Some students write
“The boy that I met”;
And of course I write
“The boy whom I met.”
So I totally deplore
What a student sent me:
An article of doom
Called “The Death of Whom.”

Some students write
“The data is”;
And of course I write
“The data are”
(I did, after all, take Latin!)
Despite the fact
That even in
The New York Times
Some writers in crimes
(Who surely flunked Latin!)
Use the singular.

And now some lame
Students claim
That they can’t read
And thus won’t heed
My cursive comments.
“Print please,”
A student pled,
Along with a tear she shed;
And with that suggestion
Or was it a question,
I’ll depart the quagmire,
And now will retire.

*The editor of this publication is changing his status at UMCP. He has been a professor there for 35 years; in the future, he will be a Senior Research Scholar with fewer teaching and administrative responsibilities and more time for writing, research, advocacy, and of course The Faculty Voice. In partial explanation of his decision to make the change, he wrote a poem.

A Suitcase Full of Memories

By Mady W. Segal

It was my decision to retire,
There are other things I want to try.
So why am I looking at my almost empty office
Fighting a compelling urge to cry?

I’ve been teaching college students
For more than 40 years
Passing on a love for knowledge
While quelling their many fears.

I’ve done research I’m proud of
And published it to share
With others in the profession
And policy makers who care.

I like to think my work has mattered
That I’ve helped improve the lives
Of the students in my classes
And some military wives.

I look at the recycling
Outside my office in the hall
So many years of papers
Form a pile a tree height tall.

Memories rise from the committee files
Paper traces of time and effort spent
To change things for the better.
Is this where my life went?

The walls are white and barren
Only picture hangers to stay
I’ve cleared my last belongings out
To take them home today.

I mulled it over last night
As I tried to fall asleep
How to manage transporting
The items I’d want to keep.

The precious photos of my family
Wouldn’t take up very much space
But the plaques on the wall would
And the mirror I used to check my face.

I took a rolling suitcase
For the awards from the wall.
Is this what’s left of all that work?
I hope my legacy’s not so small.

I wanted to retire
I did it in my time
But I’m leaving some of myself
In this room I’ve left behind

My identity as professor
And active researcher too
Are moving into history
Another life passage to move through.

I haven’t really missed them
As I’ve had the office for another year
But as I wheel my suitcase out
Here comes another tear.

I’ve left the memories behind me
Emotions boiling when I get home
So I grab a piece of paper
And try to purge them in a poem.

I’ve never done this before
There’s always a first time
Perhaps it will feel better
To get it written into rhyme.

It helps for a while now
But I’m still feeling really down
Thinking of the suitcase
Locking away all of that renown.

When my husband’s home at last,
We go to our cozy basement den.
Together we hang the awards there
And for each I remember when.

He tells me he judges
Much of my work to be great.
He knows I’ve worked my heart out
Since 1968.

The suitcase is now empty
Because the plaques are on the wall
Where I can see them and
Then a tear of joy starts to fall.

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