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I originally wrote this for Ohio University’s 1963 Athena, where it was accompanied by photographs. The text has been changed slightly here and section titles have been added.
UPDATE:
In 2010 Ohio University put all Athena editions online in digital form. The link for the 1963 Athena, beginning on the first page, is here. The section with the text shown on this page (in its original form) is here with the PHOTOS that accompanied it. (Actually the text was written to accompany the photos.) A pic of me (with my hair in a beehive and sipping lemonade) is on page 242. Credits for the photographs and for the feature copy are on page 339. Have fun! I know I did.

Copyright 2002 by Judith Laura

Judith Laura:
Alma Mater Ohio, 1963

Love at First Sight

Rushing (forward) toward it

from wide, pillar-lined streets—the oasis

in a desert of broken-down mine shafts,

horror-story houses
mere remnants
of ghosttowns—

drawn close together between blazing hills.


Seeing,
while rushing, that morning brightness divides

shadows falling with absolute clarity
on red brick buildings, sidewalks.
Vermillion.
Dark Red. (Maroon? Oxblood? Orchid?)
With splashes of glistening green between the
walks, like a picture postcard. Only more vibrant

because it is a vision
of the mind.

Stepping, without seeing,
almost without feeling, into deep grooves
of Ewing steps.

Whose will be the footfalls that finally
wear the first print into
the Space Art stairs?

Faces, rushing past,
do they see? Flashing
past like the passing of past years: each like the
other. Until magically the veil lifts and the face is
a sunny spot that a cloud has just passed over, smiling,
"Meet you after class for coffee in the Frontier Room."

Curfew

Is this the place where greetings
and confetti were tossed?
Moonlight flooding through McGuffey elms, mirages
floating between shafts of
lamppost light, whirl (revolve)
and then–for one breath’s
space–are still.
Voices: Hurry! In five minutes
girls turn into pumpkins.

Homecoming Floats

. . . .flour and water make paste. . . on sweatshirt. . .
tweak. . . tomorrow. . . not much time. . . tweak. . . green yellow red
blue English test Monday. . . who’s getting up
at 6 a.m . . . tweak. . . "from back here it really looks sharp" . . .
But what if the head falls off before it reaches Court Street. . .
white breath and gray smoke mingle. . . golden mums meet yellow sun. . .
Trumpets drums boom blare so early in the morning. . . "how do
they get it to move up and down". . . bumping along while
working a lever inside a three-foot square cubicle and being
six feet tall. . . roses. . .smiles. . .queen candidates
must feel cold like that. . . one in a most revealing gown
smokes a cigar to keep warm. . . .

The Game

Win. . .not a chance
do you know what the odds are. . .
they beat Purdue. . .but maybe. . .ten
more yards. . . c’mon. . . just. . .
get that ball. . .and. . .
confetti. . .a touchdown already. . .
yes some coffee no a coke. . .a touchdown. . .
the floats again looking like
oddly covered wagons. . . float placed. . .
joy laughs and cries with
the kickoff. . . show ‘em again. . .yes
another. . . touchdownitlookslikewe
mightmaybeitsjustpossiblesomehowWin

First Registration
By Computer

Voice: In the spring I saw all those Beautiful courses and I couldn’t decide which
to take so
I signed up for 25 hours thinking I would have time to decide over
the su
MMer. So this suMMer I couldn’t get a job and My parents only gave Me $5 to last ‘til Thanksgiving and a change order is $3. So what do I do now? DO NOT FOLD OR BEND. "I’m sorry But you’re not registered at thIs University. You’ve Been rejected by the Machines."

Art History 101

In his paintings Leonardo combined scientific knowledge and poetic sentiment.
Michelangelo painted
the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Raphael’s Alba Madonna is a "tondo." A tondo is
a round picture
in which three figures are
neatly
arranged in a parallelogram within the circle of a frame. A tondo is
a—Tonto, quemo sabey hi ho silverware—round picture—
or even a square picture, picture
on dresser
never is the same as
looking up and seeing,
as reaching out and touching—in which
three figures—Bill, Tom, Fred—
within the circle of a frame—standing in a circle under the window
speaking in excited whispers about the latest
plan—plan for tomorrow night. Call
at five. Dance. The music
swirls and is gone and out
in the lobby see the same people
that sit in front
and beside
and behind
nine o’clock MWF
looking starchy instead of slouchy
which is posing. Starch slouch. Both.
Only alone like this,
looking but not being seen,
is not.
But nine o’clock Monday Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Insomnia

Fading
one by one.
Footsteps calling backwards
from labyrinth of lost
corridors leaving

One
light flaming
flickering
in not even blackness

Smoke weaving
wreathing writhing
into
sleepiness sleeplessness

Thoughts
sounding like voices
which speaking silences

Silence sirens.

Junior Prom Histrionics...

It’s not bad when no one’s watching, but all these people
Is it easy
to become a pelican
for one night?
Get the scenery on the line seven minutes don’t drag–judges
Never knew old Ted
could do
that!

Most handsomest beautifulest all-American international
universal superb fantabulousaroonie J-Prom Queen and King
(Here’s how it stands:
voting date is
with a SQ but
vote for the RT
because of the counter-deal
with the LMNO’s
who have a contra-deal with
the XYZ’s.)

Yesh, thersh need fer jusht a little in sush a prodheck, prodhic
We dropped
out.

...and Coronation

Thousands all staring.
Is it possible to step
into the spotlight for one brief moment without stumbling
lost
in the brightness?

Excited whispers swell into a roar
inside
Then silence pounding, pulling, holding out
all possibilities.

Waiting while guessing ahead.

And the voice announces: Queen, King.

It’s her
not us (not this year)
it’s them
it’s us so happy can’t believe it could happen
thank you thank all who helped so happy
laughter bubbles like tears can’t believe

Mock UN

Voices: When we get the floor we’ll yield to the Ukrainian
SSR—The first plenary session of the Mock United Nations
will please come

To save succeeding generations from the scourge. . .

Voice: of radioactive dust which blows across Outer Mongolia
we wear these boarskin caps and hip boots

To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights. . .

Voice: for the indigenous people of South Africa who are
suffering under the government-sanctioned policy of
segregation called apartheid (pronounced apart hate)

To establish conditions under which justice and respect. . .

Voices: And now we take you to the floor–Mr. Chairman,
I have the floor. I move we reconvene Sunday–but we
can’t we’re students–and we have to study

To promote social progress and better standards of
life in larger freedom. . .

Conception

If
our coming unto
and our going forth
is always lit
by manufactured lights,
scheduled by tradition,
prohibited and permitted by authority,

what
can be born?
How will
there be a
renaissance?

Rehearsal

Projecting
into the future,
a word,
a melody
that rises,
reaches out,
falls–almost
like a foreign tongue.

Repeating,
over and over,
as another voice
is thrown upon
the former silence

until the
whole
world is born
from
one chord.

Curtain Up

How long
before
rhythms,
harmonies from within
burst the universe
of singularity?

Voice: Yet
will others ever hear,
listen?

Performance

Listen–
Rushing (cars) crowds
Figaros hide under sofa covers
and dance with trombone moaning out
damned spot out
Crashing (streams) seas
say when the saints
come marchin’ in
Rushing (cars) crowds
Crashing (streams) seas
Listen

Parents

Two weekends out of the year its polish shoes
and manners time.
See, Dad, this is the Frontier Room where I live,
uh,
take a study break.
Hey,
old Jack looks just like his Dad.
What a long dinner line.

Choking smoke, blasting jukebox just like the old times.
I raised a little hell in my day too, let me tell you.
That’s Pete out there. Just like his old man!
Look, they passed to him. He’s running. Touchdown!
My son, my

daughter.
I didn’t realize. Out of all these girls to be chosen
to what’s-it-called Mortar Board.
How happy she looks in the shadows of the fire’s flame.

Sitting on the Center patio,
sun warming the lemonade,
feeling like visiting day at an institution.

Voice: Now Mom,
don’t cry.

I promise to
come home

next weekend.

Copyright 2002 by Judith Laura

For fiction set partly at a southeastern Ohio college suspiciously similar to OU, see http://www.judithlaura.com/3PI.html

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