Opaque Shades of RVA


You could have reached here Wednesday by last choice

Perhaps your mood shifted. All the calm nights

you had now lay awake. You explore the city

built by the perfect people, white cathedral

stands upright on a slant, a compass buried in plain sight,

the gibberish of art students from painting lullabies as sirens.

Only children are asleep. The university

grows younger each year. The best teacher

is always late, not realizing her impact.


The person I’m most comfortable with

stays in bed. Security found indoors

the couch allures, security in the capsule,

The deafening whispers, the genuine friends

who live nearby and can’t talk straight. The blessed temple

building worshiped by advertising majors.


The lucid potential, morning sprints round the track,

a library sustained by crushed Adderall

glowering orbs rotating back counter clockwise,

out of chimneys the black spirits climb,

detectives bicycling, the honor students rummaging

for class notes in the deep end of the dumpster.


So this is college? That frontier plateauing

before you can dive off a cloud? So this utopia

was a dollhouse, the daily on the doormat

camps in the hallway: waits while the child watches a sit-com?

Don’t apartments stand still? Are abstract paintings

and basketball supposed to nurture a city,

not only Richmond, but also other lonely cities

of misunderstood brunettes, dank weed and dubstep

the weekend will seldom put out

until the city you moved to shuts its eye?


Just tell yourself, “live.” The best teacher, eighteen

when she moved to the university, still grins

even as she coughs out fiberglass. Any day now,

she sings, I’ll take a drive and leave this place.

I pull her close and say. You haven’t slept in your own bed.

The boy who you’ve always loved still thinks about you.

The books you read before breakfast,

whoever the author may be, inspires

and your least favorite student who raises her hand

is judged but her posture never falters. 

Andrew TranComment