Stemmata quid faciunt?
Because he never went to college,
my father sold the Book of Knowledge.
Myself, I never went to school,
but did devote myself to pool.
Both of us ended on the rocks,
graduates of old Hard Knocks,
alums of Loving Kindness, yet
ignorant on how to get
along in life without degrees,
no forests for us, only trees,
yet publishing our poetry
in Yale and Southern and Sewanee.
Sometimes the editors write back,
Dear Professor, you’re no hack,
we wish to publish “Ode on Birds”
in which we find such lovely words.
And I write back and say to them
I’m no professor, all the same.
I never even went to college,
but daddy sold the Book of Knowledge,
and I read it, growing up,
when he and I would share a cup
of sherry over Heraclitus
knowing nothing’d ever right us,
knowing nothing quite stands still,
that only changing always will
keep you up with changing things,
like that river on time’s wings
that you can’t step into twice
even if you’d pay the price.
Now that dear old daddy’s gone,
I think I’ll write about a swan.


E. M. Schorb has published several collections of poetry, including Time and Fevers: New and Selected Poems (AuthorsHouse, 2004), which was chosen as a 2007 Eric Hoffer Book Award winner; A Fable & Other Prose Poems (2002), Murderer's Day (1998), winner of the Verna Emery Poetry Prize; 50 Poems (1987); and The Poor Boy and Other Poems (1975); and a chapbook, Like the Fall of Rome and Other Humanitarian Disasters (1980). He is also the author of two novels: Paradise Square, which won the International eBook Award Foundation's Frankfurt eBook Award for "Best Fiction work originally published in eBook form," and Scenario for Scorsese (both Denlinger's Publishers, 2000). His poems and prose have appeared in Best American Fantasy 2007, as well as The American Scholar, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Chattahoochee Review, Chelsea, The Literary Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Southern Review, The Sewanee Review, The Texas Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Yale Review, among other journals. His honors include Fellowships in Literature from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and the North Carolina Arts Council, and grants from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, the Carnegie Fund for Authors, and Robert Rauschenberg & Change, Inc. (for illustrations in The Poor Boy). He lives in Mooresville, North Carolina.