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Philosophy at Night

I like teaching at night.
Bells rejoice the sun’s sleep,
Summoning home the weary
With their papers, books, weight
And sorrows to leave now and bury
In the kinder darkness far from
The light that sees all and reveals all.
But we stay a while longer.
There is no one waiting at home
Anyway, but more work or the bed
where nothing happens.

It’s a secret we all keep.
A rendezvous for a motley crew
Of businessmen, economists, doctors,
Psychiatrists, scientists and those
Whose dreams have not yet come, whose
Passions have not taken hold of them;
Mostly they do not know.
Who knows at twenty?—
What shall come, shall be chosen
What shall be lived? Not even the eldest in the room
Who wonders in between writing fancy, borrowed
Words of some French existentialist on the board that
Still bears important marks and lines and equations from
A more important class at 4:30 to six.
I write over the previous teacher’s
Certainties with stupid questions
Like Who Am I, What is man,
And on the meaning of things and this odd
Thing called ‘life’—questions
I will never answer anyway.
But of this I am certain:
We smile more than algebra.

I like teaching at night.
Between the day’s rush and evening’s
Yawns before empty phones or computers,
Delaying tomorrow,
Delaying dinner bottles bed wife,
Tomorrow checking their papers which just took
Both our time: Mine to correct
And theirs to make mistakes.
Now, with me, with philosophy,
At night make all your mistakes—

Tomorrow knows no mercy.


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