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Modern Art

It’s late at night. I had a cold brewed coffee in the late afternoon as I graded papers. It was after 3:00. Caffeine after 3:00: not a good idea, he says, with nary a wink of sleep coming over him.

It’s an hour before midnight. The full moon is rising and marching with Mars across the sky. A hot wind in blowing in the parched leaves of the Walnut, Ash and Oak trees. 

I’m wide awake. So I might as well tell you a story…


On Friday, I taped numbers to the desks at school. I did this to better connect the faces and names of my 150 students. Black numbers hand-drafted on white squares of paper with a blue border. (The border was a flourish that I had added on a whim, because I have a wonderful big-brush pastel blue marker.)

I put white card stock underneath the white squares when I drew the blue border around the black numbers. And after brushing four borders on 30 squares, the card stock was a randomish mishmash of pastel blue lines and dots and miscellaneously shaped marks where the brush had marked beyond the edges.

At the end of sixth period, I put the marked up card stock under the document camera. The image projected on the screen.

“Here is my modern art for the day,” I said.

There was momentary silence, and then one of the boys in the room said, “It speaks to me.”


That is my story. The moon has advanced beyond the periphery of the canopy of the Walnut tree. The caffeine is still speaking. It’s going to be a long night.