Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
  • Home
  • About
  • Archive
  • Bio Notes
  • Bookshelf
  • Contents
  • Submit
SHJ Issue 16
Spring 2017

Summer School

by David Denny

Well, it’s final. It’s settled. I’m not going
to the UK this summer. I will not
ride the rickety train from Edinburgh
to London. I will not wander through
the old Roman spa town of Bath, sing
Evensong in its splendid Abbey, nor drive
a rental car on the wrong side of the road
to Wales. I won’t be hiking the rocky hills
above the seaside capital of Cardiff.

Instead I will teach a six-week Introduction
to Poetry to bored community college students.
Rather than fish for trout in an icy Highlands
stream, or turn my flimsy California collar
up against the winds of the Salisbury plains,
I will recite for my students “The Lake Isle
of Innisfree” while they text to one another:
“can u believe this boring old fart?
he really likes the odor of this moldy shit!”

I will not arise and go to the UK. Rather
I will ride my bike in the heat of a sweltering
drought and sip iced tea at Starbucks and
scribble into my notebook, recording not
the ruddy cheeks and throaty dialects of the Welsh,
nor their love for community choirs and football
and ale and turtleneck sweaters, nor their
bemusement at right-wing American politicians
and baby-faced Silicon Valley billionaires.

At night I will consume ever-increasing
gobs of mint chocolate chip ice cream
(which my doctor has warned me against)
and calculate just how much of my summer
paycheck goes toward my children’s mortgage-
sized college loans. I will fall asleep to the
charmless banalities of late-night blue-light
talk shows which, like this dreary summer,
like this very poem, pass without distinction.


—Second Runner-Up ($100 cash prize) in the competition for the Steve Kowit Poetry Prize 2016, and first published in the San Diego Poetry Annual 2016-17 (Garden Oak Press, February 2017); appears here with permissions from both poet and publisher.


SHJ Issue 16
Spring 2017

David Denny’s

books include the short-story collection, The Gill Man in Purgatory, and three poetry collections: Man Overboard, Fool in the Attic, and Plebeian on the Front Porch. His stories and poems have appeared in numerous publications, including The Sun, Atlanta Review, Rattle, California Quarterly, and New Ohio Review. He holds an MFA from the University of Oregon and an MAT from Fuller Theological Seminary, and he has taught in the English Department at De Anza College for 30+ years. Recent honors include an Artist Laureate Award by the Arts Council of Silicon Valley, numerous Pushcart Prize nominations, a two-year term as Poet Laureate of Cupertino, a Tuscany Prize in Fiction, and Honorable Mention in the annual Poetry of the Sacred contest.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury