C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press

The Classroom of Great Currents

By: Allen Guest


The bugle call of thunder, the cannon flash of lightening, and a line of rain charges up these summer slopes like Pickett’s men at Cemetery Ridge; and each drop no less destined to die–crashing into leaves and branches like gray-clad infantry into bullet and cannonball. Here in the Smokies, west of the divide, the droplets disaggregate, begin their resurrection run to the Gulf of Mexico. At Gettysburg, east of the divide, flowing blood, with resurrection less certain, begins its journey to the Atlantic. The classroom of great currents will eventually combine water and blood, reveal to each the lesson of the other: to water, the quiet stubbornness of blood, to blood, the flowing compromise of water. The rain passes. Evening sets in quickly between these high hills. The western sky bleeds color, leaves dry out, and red soil reverts to brown. Much is forgotten.


I am a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Clemson University, where I teach courses in the calculus sequence for science and engineering majors. I try to bring the exactness of mathematics to my poetry, but I invariably fail. I hope the attempt, however, brings a certain clarity of image my work. My poetry has appeared in Flying South, The Petigru Review, and The Esthetic Apostle. I am a 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee. “I started this poem in August while staying at a house high in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Thunderstorms moved in and out most afternoons, and sometimes I could hear a hard rain moving up the slopes below me. Confederate flags are common in the area, and seeing them set me thinking about the futility of it all – the raindrops falling toward obliteration, the soldiers at Gettysburg charging toward the same. The two ideas came together in this poem.”

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