The Sad Professors

a poem

Jim Esch
2 min readMay 11, 2023


The inspiration for this poem was listening to “Sad Professor” by R.E.M. while commuting home from work.

Photo by Gabriel on Unsplash

dark mud slop shoulders
the silver stream, bent
trees stuck, brambles clumped
like sad professors.

the liquid mirrors their fears
slivers the glen ambiguously
as blackbirds cut
a brazen sky after rainfall.

on the hilltop smokestacks spit,
weeds swallow the forgotten
junked cars gathering light
in water beads on windshields,

the sun imprisoned like jewels dropped
from the sack of a giant
who’s gone away, left the muck
for somewhere greener.

foliage colors-in burnt vacant
spaces between bent railroad tracks,
like echoes no one hears.
but nobody’s ever gone all the way,

no matter how far they strayed,
even the saddest professors,
whose words sank into slop
when no one bothered to listen.