Pandemic Poem #33


(Reading tip: if you are reading this on your phone screen, turning the screen sideways will result in a correct placement of each line; otherwise, they are broken up in unusual and not especially poetic fashion.)



I got into a social media squabble earlier today
(it was bound to happen at some point)
and as a parting shot, the fellow fighting with me
snapped, What do you know? You’re just a professor,

(Which is to say: don’t discuss things I don’t 
think you know anything about based on my 
own perceptions of who you are based on your
120-character bio.)

And honestly, I just snorted, because I am a


and a professor/writer/dancer/runner/artist/actor who
plays DnD and loves All Things Nerdy;

and a dance/band/Robotics/Girl Scout/mom to a now-
Tween and Teen who were also once Daisies, Brownies,
Juniors, infants, toddlers, and children I also parented;

and I am a citizen/voter/registered independent; a
woman/feminist/ally/activist/community volunteer;

and I have been a rugby player and a field hockey player
and a distance runner on the track team, l I have competed
in 5Ks and 10Ks and haf-marathons;

and I am a cat owner and used to be a dog owner with dogs
that trained in agility and obedience and won their Canine
Good Citizen Awards;

and I fronted a synth-pop band that recorded and cut a single,
have acted on stage and worked backstage, written grants
for productions, sung in concerts, sold paintings;

and I have taught in K-12 classrooms in rural and urban
spaces, been a waitress and a cashier and a bartender
and a bar-back and a hostess and an intern and a PR office
aide and a Domino’s Pizza phone girl and a Victoria’s Secret
shop girl and a Barnes and Noble cafe worker and a
city Finance Office window clerk and worked at fast-food
restaurants (yes, even the drive-through) and a grocery store,
and babysat, and mucked out horse stalls;

and I have lived in Virginia, Hawaii, Illinois, North Carolina and
Missouri; driven through and visited many more states, traveled
to England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Canada;

and I was a Military Brat and a first-generation college student
and have earned a BA, MA, MFA and PhD; published my poetry
and stories and research;

for starters, and that’s just scratched the surface of who I am,
all I do and all I know–

So, which lane do you want me to stay in?



(Originally written 4/22/2020)


I invite those who are also writing creatively in response to the pandemic to share their words in the comments below. I am sharing the “poem-a-day” on Instagram and Twitter, as well; follow me @mridleyelmes !


About Melissa Ridley Elmes

Professor and writer; Unrepentant nerd; chaotic good. Author of Arthurian Things: A Collection of Poems. PhD, MFA. She/hers. Views my own.
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