Enlightened Amherst Boys

Once I was an Amherst girl

in a Ramona Flowers jacket

so long it obscured short skirts

and made me feel like I could be the girl John McCrea was singing about.


Surrounded by you enlightened Amherst boys,

full of rampant idealism

-ism -ism -ism -isms

telling us what we thought with your poetry.


Even as an Amherst girl,

I was hard to win over with 

moustaches thinly veiling those dissatisfied frowns-

ironic before ironic was in-

and skinny jeans outlining thighs that even mine would have eclipsed. 


Enlightened Amherst boys,

full of advice and world-worn;

as long as the world was Hadley,

and for that one weekend, Québec,

or anywhere the fair trade coffee flowed freely.

I was an Amherst girl,

and sure, I thought you were attractive...

the same way I think a colorful gift bag is attractive 

on the rack at Dollar Tree, when it still has nothing inside. 

Enlightened Amherst boys,

with your big plans of growing up and moving to Somerville

armed with fresh cardigans and an iPhone 4, 5, 6

that you'd use to research working conditions

in the iPhone factory

so you could keep the rest of us informed. 

Yeah yeah yeah yeah

you knew a lot of big words.

I knew a lot of big words too.

But what really almost drew me in was how many Greek roots

you were able to fit into your self-summary.

I said, "Yeah, I wanna hear all about the 

amphi-eroti-meta-poly-aesthetics of

whatever you're working on for your internship...

just as soon as I'm back from class."

Maybe we'd pass each other in the library wind tunnel:

you with enough self-satisfaction to keep you warm through November

and to power that walk

head held high

telling yourself and the world,

"I swear to god, this wasn't my safety school."

I was an Amherst girl,

big headphones full of Gang of Four,

big mouth full of backlash.

You were enlightened Amherst boys,

big gloves full of spotless hands,

big shelves full of Chomsky.

I saw you at the party

and even as freshmen,

you weren't above asking your older friends to buy you beer

(but you were above drinking anything other than Stella.)

That's cool, that's cool, that's cool,

but I didn't wanna hear you talk about your friend's band;

I wanted to see you pick up a guitar.

I didn't want you to tell me about something shocking you had read;

I wanted you to tell me about something shocking you had done.

Enlightened Amherst boys,

I shared your desire for change...

but what you lacked for me

was that key piece of insight:

that knowledge that we are





That cynicism:

that deep-seated, beautiful cynicism

that kept the rest of us from getting our hopes up too high.


That shell of hardened feelings

that formed around so many of out hearts early on,

which you allowed to soften and peel away,

exposing your atria and ventricles,

leaving your bleeding heart vulnerable

to my apparently scathing words

when I told you to stop talking

and start listening.


And if you weren't so worldly and refined,

enlightened Amherst boys,

I'm sure you would have said what you were thinking...



Enlightened Amherst boys,

I think of you now when I see you in Somerville.

So I suppose you've succeeded.

I just hope you've grown up a little

and replaced your pathetic rhetoric with... anything.

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