How to Reply to a Major General

Mayor

Madeline Rogero
mayor@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-2040

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Poem written November 27, 2018 for UT's Faculty Award Ceremony held on Dec. 6, 2018.

By Marilyn Kallet



How to Reply to a Major General

“So, how did you end up
in Knoxville?”
Major General Lee Quintas
asked me. He was
my seat-mate on the flight
to Paris, en route to
history, to commemorate
the battle of the Somme. I
was flying to poetry, to
Auvillar, on my spring
pilgrimage.

“I didn’t end up 
there, Sir. I chose
Knoxville. The University 
of Tennessee offered me
a great job. 
Never looked back.
I’ve worked with some
of the best poets
in the country, including 
several on active duty,
and our alums
have composed more
books than I have time
to note!”

UT has always
supported my work––
well, almost 
always.
“Ode to Disappointment:
Dear Marilyn, 
We have decided not to fund
Your professional development 
grant. We think you are already 
developed.”
So, what did I do? Wrote
a poem about it, of course.

A bump in the road, 
a pothole, no need to dig
a canyon.
I owe my writing life to UT, 
15 books published here, 
but who’s counting, 
besides my mother in 
the afterlife?

And my best prizes?
Met Lou in town, then Heather
arrived. 
At our house, two bodies
were not a problem, 
but a love song.

I didn’t wind up
end up
fold up
here––
I chose Knoxville!
And each day I thank UT 
and Knoxville
for choosing me.

“Yes, but why 
is Marilyn spending so much time
with the campus police?”
Chris Cimino asked Lou.
“She’s writing a dog book about
K-9 Officer Bruno,” Lou
replied. A canine call also sent me 
to San Bernardino PD this fall, to 
interview their Spokesdog, 
Sherlock.
No sir, Mr. 
Vice-Chancellor, I didn’t apply
for UT funding for that flight! 
Though I swear some of those K-9’s 
are smarter
than at least one big shot
publicity hound
in the news
these days.