Sacred Seat

desk with apple

Don’t get so comfortable,

bouncing your crossed leg, wrapped

up in Abercrombie jeans that pull

smooth and disappear

into manmade leather boots

with the toes curling up

like your nose at those

of us with decorum.

Your words, bartending,

blow chunks, and bitch,

get mired in the sticky

gloss of your mouth.

All the while, you squeeze out

your Victoria’s Secret hand lotion

to self-indulge,

because going to graduate school

is like going to a spa.

Your kneading fingers

slipping in and out

of one another are mesmerizing

and the cloying fragrance of Wisteria

is born from their mating. Oh,

those black-rimmed glasses

with rhinestone accents

are so cute and signify your

scholarly performance, especially

the way the temple tips tuck

right into the impotent wool hat

that you are wearing indoors.

Hey, want to pass that supersized

bag of Famous Amos cookies

this way? No? Okay;

just keep feeding yourself

with junk and spitting it back out

when the professor poses

questions such as, “How does evil

get uncorked?” and “What happens

when trauma is turned into art?”


You are very possessive

of your position in our circle—

close to the professor’s desk,

a wall behind you

so your head can rest—

like an 8th grade cheerleader

who always sits at the second table

to the right of the cafeteria door

and in the only chair with all

four bolts. You did not show up

to our first literature class. In our

second class, you told a friend,

loudly, “She took my seat,” trying

to knock me with your blond

curls back into my 13-year-old

self, with my turtleneck

and diary and broken chair

near the emergency exit. You

hoped that your claim

would have carried

over from the previous semester,

when you took Research and Translation

of 18th Century Poetry

in this room.

No, my dear. It’s time for

the changing of the guards.


In the third class, you sat next to me

again. This time, the scent you gave off

was one of stale coffee, hot still,

in the swamp of your mouth. Out

it drifted as you shared a story

about your alarm clock’s cruelties

with nobody and everybody,

the F-bombs flying.

It took you several minutes

to notice that the professor

was waiting to begin.

Tonight, I walk in to see your coat

draped over the desk in which I sat

last week. I approach, and murmur

something that passes

for a civil request to move

the coat. You put your hand on it,

but not to honor me.

“I was saving this for Misty,” you say.

“She’s bringing in snacks.”

I drop my bag in the corner instead.

“Snacks are non-negotiable,” I say,

lighthearted and gracious.

See? Decorum…though I would

revel in crushing that double

shot espresso nonfat no-whip

on your crown, which needs

an overhaul along with your attitude.


What’s also non-negotiable

is the proper reverence of a classroom.

You must look for the cues

that your teacher is ready

to invest his time in your

learning—the folded hands,

lips like a wooden ruler,

a scanning gaze, and silence.

You must develop

the poise required to collaborate

or to counter or to close

your mouth once in a while.

It’s a shame, really,

because when you shut the hell up,

you say some insightful things.

I liked it when you called

the language in Balakian’s

memoir a mix of the ugly

and the pretty.

So you can recognize

the difference between the two!

Let this instinct guide you.

There is nothing more ugly

than treating an education

like a house party

at which you dance alone

on the table…

and nothing more pretty

than paying homage to knowledge

(and to the people who have

paid for your classroom seat)

with a hatless head,

a collegial spirit,

and an attentive heart.


Categories: spurredgirl's Original Poetry CollectionTags: , , , , , ,

1 comment

  1. I love your poetry, especially the odes you compose when you are angry. Although I went to grad school almost 50 years ago there was always someone in class like this oaf .

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