I've now got a triptych of COVID poems!

The first is something I wrote on Sunday, March 15, 2020, the day before we began moving to "remote learning" at SFU. I was trying to put together a list of best practices/tips for the Dean's office to distribute to our instructors. I hope the poem was comforting to people in the first couple of weeks, and I hope it's still amusing in retrospect after this is all over.

‘Twas the night before COVID, and at SFU

All instructors were bothered, knew not what to do.

They wrestled with Canvas, they thought of podcasts,

They wondered how long remote learning would last.

When out in the aether arose such a clatter,

They rose from their keyboards—now what was the matter?

The brightness of sunshine instead of March rain

Made them wonder if they had a touch of eye strain.

Behold Super-Teacher, that jolly old elf!

They laughed when they saw her, in spite of themselves.

Now she jumped to the wall, now she leapt to the roof,

She distributed tip-sheets, and gave them this truth:

You just do what you can, for your students and you;

Don’t kill yourselves trying, try not to get ‘flu;

Don’t try to put all of your knowledge online:

It may not be perfect, but it will be fine!


The second is another ironic imitation, this one from July 2020, after four months of working from home and remote learning. It's somewhat less cheerful, as was I when I wrote it.

Once upon a summer dreary, as I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many guides and blog posts, newly minted online lore,

While I nodded, nearly whingeing, suddenly a “beep” impinging

On my conscious thought came springe-ing, as it had so oft before.

“A reminder,” then I muttered, as an expletive I uttered.

 “Why Zoom meetings, ever more?”


I am having trouble thinking—just be glad I am not drinking,

Drowning sorrows as I’m sinking, sinking down upon my floor.

Each “to do” list at the day’s end, bigger daily as I press “send,”

Just as I do, in a pile ends, by my table, on the floor.

Is there respite ever will be? Can there, now the Fall term will be

            At home, online, ever more?


All my students “help” are crying, as to communicate I’m trying,

For attention all are vying, and I admit my brain is sore.

For so much work we are not suited, and for Spring, I hear it bruited,

Online courses. I’m uprooted, at my table, on my floor.

Meetings online, very draining, never thought I’d be complaining

            That my work is ever more.


Where’s the raven, bird of omen, who can tell me what my woes mean

When I fall before my foemen, feeding on me, on the floor?

Storm crow, trickster, guardian spirit, is there peace I can inherit?

Somewhere distant I can hear it, in the lamp-light on my floor.

Help me now, Administration, with my workload obligation:

            Let it not be ever more.


And this is the third one, from the end of December, after nine and a half months of working from home.

When I consider how my life is spent

In transit: bed to chair and back again;

And each dull day becomes one sad refrain

As teaching talents sour with discontent,

Then do I wonder how we might present

Ourselves to students, speaking plain

About our mutual dependence, to stay sane.

What can we do for us, in rooms all pent?

I fondly ask. We watch the chat bar, yes,

And bear the mild COVID yoke and smile.    

We hope our labour now will yet bear fruit,

While what the future holds we cannot guess.  

We do “self care,” rememb’ring all the while,

They also serve who only Zoom and mute.

With thanks, of course, to Clement Clarke Moore, Edgar Allan Poe, and John Milton. 

And to my department, for reducing my workload and saving my mental health.