English Lesson 2003 by Eric Nicholson

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy


Today I’m teaching
The Present Continuous.
I’m teaching,
You’re listening,
We’re learning.

My Iraqi students juggle English sounds
Like hot grenades,
While smart bombs shatter lives.
“Americans drive planes at Baghdad,
Make killed.”
“Yes, they’re bombing Baghdad:
Present Continuous for
What’s happening now.”
Tanks are moving now;
They’re firing cruise missiles, now;
They’re killing children, now.
Live updates:
“British soldier killed in Basra.
Units are being held up.”
A tense for every situation.
Smart words.
“Ten marines were killed.”
Simple Past for actions completed:
Passive voice.
Active voice:
“The marines killed ten Iraqi soldiers.”
Simple past; end of action.
They’re dropping wind-up radios;
The oil fields are burning;
Back to the Present Continuous.

My students ask,
“What they doing?”
“Is he hurting?”
“They’re bombing Baghdad.”

And when it’s over;
What then?
Present Perfect:
They have bombed Baghdad.


Eric Nicholson is now retired. He worked as an ESOL teacher and also worked in other fields of education. Now, in his retirement he enjoys countryside conservation, writing and walking. Eric's work has been published  in neutronsprotons, literary orphans and emptysink. You can read his blog here.