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Don't borrow another's thought
without citation. Don't filch
another writer's diction,
assuming I'm deaf to style
and tone—elements I teach.
Remember, if you Google,
copy, paste, I will follow
the crumbs, find your swiped intro,
patchwork body paragraphs.
I will expose each captive,
orphaned sentence. Why abduct?
So easy to give credit
than to discredit yourself,
even if your appendix,
little worm of an organ,
just gave you three weeks' trouble
and a backlog of schoolwork—
like Pranav, the first student
of mine to steal swaths of text
from unacknowledged sources.
His forced act of penitence:
new essay, open topic.
This is not some parable
I've devised. I couldn't build
irony to this degree:
He chose the topic karma.
Believers blame their actions,
not God, for their misfortune,
he wrote, then quoted Buddha:
According to the seed that's
sown, so is the fruit you reap—
an echo of Galatians.
I wrote F = Bad Fruit
as my only end comment.

Shanna Powlus Wheeler