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Cleaning Out My Office After 30 Years

by Mark Rhoads


I started by trashing the clutter

of papers on my desk and floor and shelves

that had outlived their currency


papers you put down not knowing at the moment

what to do with them ignored memos old

class lists and stacks of extra handouts a pile

of advisee folders names without faces mostly


and the books I once thought important I put

on a table outside my office offered

to students and colleagues

who would put them on their shelves


and the contents of my filing cabinets notes

student evaluations contracts dating to 88

and materials mostly obsolete and had been

for years and were definitely obsolete now


I transferred in great handfuls to the recycle bins

in the hall and I pulled out the agglomeration

from my desk drawers and laid it all out a history


in pens and pencils old grade books keys

to unknown doors a thousand pulled staples

a handful of rotted rubber bands cords

from archaic computers three iterations


of business cards bearing outdated college logos

and former ranks of assistant or associate professor

four five-and-a-half inch floppies with names

like "files" and "more files" and in an act of liberation


I scraped all of this into a black plastic trash can

the odd book I wanted to keep along with

my bust of Bach and a vase I boxed and loaded

into my van and after a few days of this


my old office was empty I turned out the lights

stepped into the hall turned to notice my name

had already been removed from the door