Grading English 101 Essays

Grading English 101 Essays

By Sam Pierstorff

Eight done and I can’t bear anymore— can’t bear the fragments, sentences with broken legs, crawling through each paragraph without the crutch of verbs.

I’m usually awakened by the poetry in at least one student’s line—the girl with wild black hair, plum lips, nose pierced like a dartboard’s bull’s eye—

or the hippie dude in a Che t-shirt, 10 years too old for junior college, his dirty hair rolled like Havanna cigars.

But not yet, so far it’s just the late-night, last minute usuals who think periods must be bullets because it’d kill them to stop a run-on.

I loathe these long nights. The pit of my stomach feels like a classroom of 4-year-olds with scissors and a book on making kites.

I am sick of grading, sick of inserting commas like fish hooks into the murky lakes of each essay. It’s all sludge and algae.

Show me a rainbow trout, a steelhead, an ounce of well-reasoned prose and I will dangle myself all night on a pole of modifiers until something starts to bite.

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