Poetry and sex: the time my poetry professor thought I had written a poem about an orgasm

This story has been swimming around my brain for ages and I never was really sure how to share it. It did take time to turn it from a horrifying embarrassing story to something I can laugh about. It’s about the time when I was taking a poetry course in college and the professor thought I had written about sex.

Not that I was a total prude in college (heh.) but I definitely wasn’t open about sex or relationships. Definitely wasn’t writing poetry about it. Nor was I having it.

Anyway, as an English major I was excited to see that in my junior year there was a poetry course being offered by a real published poet!

I had emailed the professor beforehand, asking what kind of poetry we should submit to be admitted to course. “Do you need sonnets, or limericks, or whatever?” I asked.

The professor then made fun of me for asking me if he wanted us to write limericks that whole semester.

Now, back then, in the early 2000s, colleges had this new thing called “Blackboard” (or other sites) where the students are assigned and submit work. I remember we had Moodle in Bar Ilan. Do all these weird sites have to be named weird things?

Actually, they’re pretty straight-forward sites but they are not connected at all to any other site, email, or anything else. This is important to note because our first class when the professor was like “Okay do you guys have the homework” and I panicked and realized that there was homework assigned on Blackboard and not on a syllabus or email.

So I made up some excuse and ran to the printer lab to “print out my poem” that I had “forgotten to bring.”

Sure.

The assignment was to write a poem using the original meaning of the words for “Armageddon” and other random words. So, I made up a poem. This is kind of how it went:

“He comes, he comes,

he is great

He is here.”

That’s what I remember writing. It was longer and also as awkward. I had the vague vision in my mind trying to write about the Messiah coming. Does it have to do with the literal meaning of “Armageddon?” Definitely not. Anyway, I rushed back to class and had to read my poem. Everyone else’s poem was good, I remember, and on topic and describing more about the end of times.

Then, my professor took my poem, and was like, “You can read this in a very sexual way.

Uh oh.

“He comes. He comes. He is great.”

I remember my face burning and I was probably very red.

I tried vainly to steer the topic away from that image but now I could only read it in that way.

Yikes.

I was too young and was shocked that a poem that I had tried to (hastily) write about the end of times had turned into a guy being great at sex. I was not at the point in my life where I was even open to talk about “coming.”

I was always very careful to check Blackboard before every class since, which I guess is the lesson I took from that poetry class. That’s all I remember from that class. I never corrected the professor. I never brought it up again. And my poems definitely steered clear of any sexual nature the rest of the semester.

English teacher by trade, story writer for fun