The graduating seniors stand in place
as Elgar wheezes toward the finish line,
yields with grace to the national anthem, sung
a capella, straight, without a trace
of irony, by a dreadlocked lad with ramrod spine.
We are now invited to sit in the pitiless sun;
behind our tiny programs, we baste and burn.
Now comes forth the iron-throated head
to thank her worthy seniors. She is proud,
recites the forty-seven names who’ve earned
at least a perfect four; those read,
she gives us seventeen more who’ve plowed
the new ground nearer five; we all
ignore the smell of sun-ripened bull.
“It’s all relative, anyway,” someone
whispers. “They can’t all play ball.”
Our valedictorian, spunky, pert, full
of modest pride, reminds us to have fun.
Then the guest speaker, local pup
made good, relates his rise from this
very school to Senior Senate Staff,
how usefulness, compliancy and sucking up
to ignorant, vicious bigots ends in bliss.
When he denies global warming a laugh
erupts, ripples through the gowned assembly,
as a fat, obscenely pink love doll
pirouettes above us. He tries to cope,
but Lulu gets around. Voice trembly,
he finally sits to watch the volleyball.
We leave commencement oddly full of hope.