Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 19 • Fall 2006 • Poetry

Freshman Lit

Justin Vicari


That was my awkward Baccalaureate of lust,
when I practiced my speeches to say face-to-face.
I was better alone, more assured in loving;
my recitation never had to come.

was in the same Freshman Lit. seminar. I loved that guy
with the dark curly hair, who sat all fall
in gray T's and sandals, impassively taking in
Wilde, Mann, now and then parting his
fulsome lips out the window, as if recognizing,
in the quad-lawn's grass and those
swaying mint-green elms,
an allegory of his thought.

I didn't
approach him, though
the books at our hips were the same, our
bookmarks marching steadfastly toward
the back covers. Dog-eared Cliff's
Notes in his back pocket,
confiding in my appraising eye.


Our teacher (a thin
intense woman whose hair
refused to bun neatly,

flying filigrees like
aerials to radar
latent aptitudes) invited

the class to her apartment
to watch Death in Venice.
I felt adult, standing in her

vestibule, before the silent ranks
of security buzzers.
My sweating finger

slipped to the wrong one --
disastrous symbolism,
wasn't I learning?

Bernard sat on the couch
only inches away,
and I found

I liked the unaccomplished
distance better
than touching. Strange,

to identify at 18
with the worn-out writer,
not the angel-cipher,

Mongoloid god
Tadzio. Bernard
sat through the whole film

in silence (what?
was he only auditing?)
until the rented tape

broke inside her VCR.
Then, those gorgeous lips
curled into a little belch

of laughter.


I was different:
the book was in my blood,
I needed the Cliff's Notes for living.

I tortured myself, that Bernard was only waiting
for me to speak first -- to give
our moment its name --

but I never spoke to him, even on the last day,
letting him go across the quad,
watching his back grow
in all that green.

Justin Vicari's work appears or is forthcoming in Interim, Rhino, Eclipse, Slant, Spillway, Gin Bender Poetry Review, Poetry Motel, Third Coast, Disquieting Muses Quarterly, Softblow, and other reviews. He is the author of chapbooks "In a Garden of Eden" (Plan B Press) and "Woman Bathing Light to Dark" (forthcoming from Toad Press, 2006). In 2005, one of his poems was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Go To: Issue 19 or Lodestar Quarterly home page