and a family of two is exploring the Student Union.
Dad is all decked out in the shirt she bought
with her own money. Joyce is wearing snug
cut-offs and her freshman breasts stir as she walks.
Dad knows that all the boys plan to slip some LSD
in her cocoa as soon as he is out of sight.
He takes in the monsters, hair down to there,
a fuselage in every pair of pants.
Worse than he expected. Certainly not the eunuchs
and mild wethers that he hoped for. And where
is the Jake Barnes dormitory?
He sees them do it to her even as they stand
by the car. Worse, he sees her ask for it,
coaxing with her expensive teeth. Why can’t he
lock those vivid hips in her room?
Follow her everywhere, revolvers drawn?
Punch a few of those furry bastards in the chops?
So he does what he can — lips to chaste brow,
hand to bare arm, saying
Good-bye now. Be good.
Ron Koertge is a well-known, much-admired poet and the author of several award-winning young-adult novels. His new collection of poems from Candlewick Press is Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses, a book of re-visited fairy tales as only Ron Koertge could revisit them. His website is ronkoertge.com. “Orientation Week” was originally published in a collection titled High School Dirty Poems, published by Red Wind Books. A larger collection of his poetry is the University of Arkansas Press’s Making Love to Roget’s Wife: Poems Selected and New. “Orientation Week” is reprinted by permission.