Ivy League Sneak

I have snuck into a Cornell class and to tell you that this doesn’t appease my Ivy Envy would be a blatant lie.

And the truth is, the kids are no smarter, no more dynamic and no more interesting than the undergrads at I.C. or even the high school kids I taught during my student teaching. I am not quite the old man of the class, that honor goes to another. The teacher, a creative writing student in their MFA program, is probably a bit younger than me.

So, I’m taking English 281: Creative Writing. We have begun with a long portion about poetry. I don’t mind poetry but the truth is I want to get some short story writing in. What I really want is to ride the wave from this class into an even higher level class in the fall.

I have to hand in a poem in a few weeks and here are two that I am currently tinkering with. Any comments or thoughts are appreciated.

Books and People. People and Books.

Some books have scars.

Course Reserve Rectangles the size of a thumb-print on
the front covers to let their care providers know where to put them.

Elders have bindings that have atrophied over
the years, vomiting pages in dank book bags here and

These crones have yellowed pages, crisp and brittle.
They come from shelved nurseries of long dead
Scholars and touching them leaves your fingers dry.

There are sought-after courtesans, wanted for what’s
inside because everyone knows proverbs about judging them by their scuffed, over-used faces. Their lovers play cunning games of recall and counter-recall to vie for their affection.

Gangs of periodicals squat in between gruff home-made
card-board neighborhood bindings. These hooligans of the shelves are crowded together by month and year.

The books migrate in and out. There are casualties and even deaths, their blood paid in fines, rarely forgiven.

The patrons walk as if their spines were on the ground, pages fluttering as they go. You can’t read them cover to cover because that’s rude but if you watch carefully you can catch a glimpse of their table of contents or look up an idea or two in a glossary.

They take all kinds here, some are kanji, cuneiform, hieroglyphs and all of the romance languages in between.

Some want their courtesans so badly, scared they will be shelved in some dusty annex warehouse to never be seen again.

The proud have gang ink published in card-board ‘hoods that they carry like prison tattoos, not worn openly but everyone knows they’re under the clothes somewhere. On their title page are words like emeritus and tenured faculty.

The young ones are still an outline, filling in the blank pages, putting out query letters to literary agents and hoping someone will option their novel for a summer blockbuster.

The patrons migrate in and out. There are casualties and even deaths but without a bar code or an ISBN they just aren’t our concern, not our fines to collect.


First Morning

I woke up next to an important brown girl and the world was never the same after that.

The wisest move
colleges ever
made in the
prevention of meaningful
sex was in the creation of
coffin-thin dorm beds.

She woke me up early, her bony knees shoved into my chest. I left her with a soft kiss on her forehead, not wanting to taint her face with my corrosive morning-breath while she slept.

Back at my apartment, I put that station on, the one that still plays music videos. My roommate’s mother called, telling me the news and now I’ll never forget his name, even though he was a vapid shit well worth forgetting.

I watched the towers fall, didn’t we all?

And in the days to come I sat with her and we watched them fall again and again and again and again.

Falling asleep with the news on never gave me nightmares before that. The drug store clerk told me he knew a good way to kill towel-heads, looking disappointed when I cursed at him in disgust.

And I’ve slept with her every night since, knowing the morning after will never be as memorable.

6 thoughts on “Ivy League Sneak

  1. ‘First Morning’ is pretty intense, Judd. It’s got all the good stuff. ‘Books and People’ is nice, good metaphor, but ‘First Morning’ has sex, death, nostalgia, and politics. It’s really got an unfair advantage.

  2. Books and People is good. It reminds me of how as a kid you personalize all your toys. How you feel sorry for the ones that you no longer play with and you never want to leave any of them out in the cold at night…

    First Morning is excellent. At first it made me long for college. So I start of a little sad, but then it hits me in the face hard and I feel terrible. The last line, And I’ve slept with her every night since, knowing the morning after will never be as memorable. is really depressing cause that is life in a nut shell. Everything is never as vivid after a powerful experience, but you live each day hoping for something like it to occur again…

    Well done Judd. Well done…

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