home, poetryCourtney Hilden

Alma Mater

home, poetryCourtney Hilden
Alma Mater

With that loner who stands
at the periphery of the cafeteria just
a little too long: ask him
to sit with you.  Bond over
AC/DC's Back in Black.  {The first
touch: a cheek
pinch when drunk, answered
in a whoop and holler.}

Nickname him
Bunny.  {Everyone but
him minds.}  Accidentally fall
asleep while reading
on the cushions plural!you laid
out in the abandoned hallway, one
weekend.  4:37 AM: Catch
single!you in the mirror, note the hickey
blooming an inch northwest of
your tailbone. 

Excitedly meet
his Dad: he has the same
face, just
with a comb-over.  Plural!you complains
about the homophobic R.A.  Hold
arms as you walk to a Superbowl
party over thick sheets of popcorned

{We’re just
friends.  Really. 
until single!his girlfriend believes

Do not analyze
that single!you looks just
like his Mom.  Work on
maps of Africa for class. 

Covertly observe him dancing
around the quad with his girlfriend: their mirror
smiles.  Catch his eyes
when plural!you is

crouched on the dance floor, waiting for
a sandstorm to rise
up and whisk plural!you away again.  Correspond
in the summer, talk about
jobs and politics and 1848,
plural!you's favorite

Celebrate the new
school year by snuggling on the couch, watching medical
dramas about vampire spies.  Giggle at the silly
acting to the point
where plural!you gets sex
hair.  Tell him that there's no
need to impress single!you with

his poetry, even if
the sweat on his brow looks
unconvinced, especially if
the sweat on his brow looks

{Keep denying every
Is there something going
on with you

Drop by
LAN parties just
to say hi, just to sing "Don't
Stop Believin.'"  Comb through
his hair when single!you needs
to calm.   

Sushi dine.  Swim
at the Intermural pool, play
water Pokemon.

Walk when-ever, where-ever, down
to the river or out
to get shaving
cream.  Lay out on
the lawn during a concert next

{Yell at him when he dates his ex-girlfriend’s
best friend.  Never mention single!you doesn't
like his new girlfriend.  Never mention that
single!you sees eyes linger

on single!you across the room

Pick out
his torso on tv while watching
the Big Game.  Send him
a note and a Snickers when he entertains
an injured friend at the hospital instead
of going to a party. 

Hug one last
time as an undergrad.  {I feel
like I'm losing a mentor.

Deliver the old We have
to talk.  {You have to
}  Feel unworthy
of that title—mentor—that it still
brings tears.

Call him six
months later.  I love
you, please
don't marry her. 

Take the no well. 

Be grateful he is still
good enough to gently let
single!you mourn that he is still
more than worthy of want.

The bachelor party: Look back
before single!you turns
the corner. {See the light turn off. 
Single!you has to return home.


Song: Teenage Color by College


Art by James R Eads

James R Eads is a Los Angeles based surreal impressionist who explores ideas of the soul and human connection through traditional printmaking and new digital media. More of his work can be seen on Instagram (@james.r.eads.art) and at www.jamesreads.com.

Courtney Hilden is an Assistant Editor at the literary magazine Profane and a Story and Script Editor at Gamerstable RPG Podcast. She has worked at other literary magazines, including Bayou Magazine. Her work has appeared in places like Autostraddle and Fry Havoc.