in My Freshman
That semester he played war games every weekend,
and some days after drilling on the quad before class,
he seemed twice his usual size,
in the bulky green and camouflage uniform,
squeezed into a student desk,
pretending that he wasn't already
on his way to a war
that none of us wanted.
I tried to teach him
to analyze cultural artifacts,
and while other students were tearing Barbie or Cosmo
to smithereens, and lobbing weapons of mass
destruction at Aquafina, exposing it
for the tap water it turned out that it most certainly is,
he was turning his white paper and type
into an American flag
big enough to wrap himself in.
I often stared at his
as I tried to explain the C's
I felt I had to give his papers.
He was always polite:
nodding and slipping
away from me like a sad-eyed ghost
who wanted nothing more
than to be helped
into the light.
is a published poet who teaches at the Pratt Institute at the
Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute in Utica, NY.