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My good friend, the literature teacher across the hall, confided in me yesterday that she felt like she was being watched and that the feeling would always occur during her last period class. She was scared that something was going to happen, but I didn’t believe her. I should have.

When I came in the next day, I discovered that she had been stabbed and murdered at her desk while she was grading. Looking around for any tell-tale signs of who it could have been, I found a poem written on the board. She always had a negative outlook regarding love, so this poem surprised me. I think she may have figured out who was watching her (who likely killed her) and hid it in the poem, but I’m at a loss.

Can you figure it out?

Love is like a chain, binding and strong,

it can be as uplifting as bird song,

akin to epics woven by a masterful bard,

and to bare yourself can be easy or hard,

but for those who care enough to try,

like a hare who leaps and dreams to fly,

a reward like no other can be found here,

one where you can't fire and hire another out of fear,

and in times so dire, fuels the strength of a hundred fires,

and in simple times of wine and dine, it never tires,

never expires, stays steadfast and strong like a great dane,

like how date trees remain after a hurricane,

and just as an iron gate holds fast,

with determination, love can be found to ever-last.

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  • $\begingroup$ How did she write the poem with the killer in mind, before she died? $\endgroup$ – Sam Harrington Jan 2 '18 at 19:11
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    $\begingroup$ @SamHarrington I wasn't there when she wrote it, but I assume that she figured it out during her last period class and wrote it then while she was teaching. She was pretty good with coming up with lines on the spot to get her meaning across $\endgroup$ – Sensoray Jan 2 '18 at 19:21
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In each line of the poem (apart from the first and last), there is

a four-letter word that forms a "word ladder" with the other lines. We have:
bird
bard
bare
care
hare
here
hire
dire
dine
dane
date
gate
The new letters in each step are aecheidnatg. Combining that with the i from the start of the chain, we form an anagram of TEACHING AIDE, who must be the culprit.

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  • $\begingroup$ Ha! And I thought I was onto something when I saw that the first letters of the words begin with "lilac basic ...". (And then rubbish, of course.) $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Jan 2 '18 at 17:09
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    $\begingroup$ I'll note that bare -> care -> hare and hare -> here -> hire both involve changing the same letter twice in a row, which somewhat defeats the point of a word ladder. That implies that something about the changes themselves is relevant. $\endgroup$ – Bobson Jan 2 '18 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ On the right track, though I will say that the first line, other than hinting at the type of puzzle, isn't part of it. And the last line that the answer can be found. @Bobson ;) $\endgroup$ – Sensoray Jan 2 '18 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ "last line that the answer can be found" as in, just that the answer can be found in the poem. Not that it's in the last line. $\endgroup$ – Sensoray Jan 2 '18 at 19:53
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I don't think this is it, but maybe I'm close. Going off Deusovi's answer,

If you take the letter that changed at each step (ie bird->bard gives you "a" and bard->bare gives you "e"), you get aecheidnatg, which is an anagram of "teaching ade" or "e.g., I teach ad", which both feel like they're close to being answers.

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  • $\begingroup$ Probably "teaching aide" then, though an I is missing. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Jan 2 '18 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ You found the culprit! @Deusovi, but nice work sirnack, great first answer! The i comes from the base of the chain, the part that initially gets changed. Not sure whom to give the correct answer to then, but decide amongst yourselves and update your answer accordingly and I'll mark it as correct. $\endgroup$ – Sensoray Jan 2 '18 at 22:05
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    $\begingroup$ @PaigeMeinke I've edited it in, but that seems a bit inconsistent to me. Why not include the B, R, and D from the base of the chain then, too? Or why not pick another one of the starting letters? You're extracting from each change, not from each word, so including an unchanged letter doesn't seem to make sense. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Jan 2 '18 at 22:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Deusovi - It makes some sense to me - it's still the letters that are being changed. And by including the I, it's the same even if you read the chain in reverse. $\endgroup$ – Bobson Jan 2 '18 at 23:21

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