Urbana High School
Claudia Ann Seaman Award
Runner-Up for Poetry
the theme of the dance is Hippies, which
is of course a great irony, as the chaperones
(who patrol the room like pale, stodgy
ghosts) will pounce on any kid with
drugs or notions of free love or hope for peace.
the statue of the mascot is an effigy
costumed in tie dye and bell
bottoms. where are you, flower
children? the revelers pose for photos
in front of posters slathered with anti-
war slogans. what was once
a hallmark of revolution has now aged into
senile decoration. the words are
the very same that dripped from
your lips as the policeman swung his club.
(the plastic tie-dyed tablecloths
don’t know that, though.) it’s rich, it’s
all too rich. paper peace signs bob
on strings above the lunchroom
door, jittery. inside is a cavern,
pulsating with popularity, braggadocious
beats careening off the walls. the dancers
are lacquered, shiny, without a hint of
your righteous grime. we are your kin: birthed
into tumult, trying to navigate an ever-
bleakening world. but—progeny of ginsberg—
i cannot even see your echoes. and so i
stand stock-still in the very heart of it,
gazing up at a crisscross of fairy lights amid this
cacophony of gyrations, and think of you.
would you weep at the spectacle? or did you
see it in your mind’s eye all along?
Whether you're a seasoned homecoming veteran or an impassioned anti-activist, Lillian Resnik transports you into a world like no other. Shifting from surreal language to ethereal imagery as its lines transpire, this poem expands far beyond the scope of the few hours of the dance. As the images accrue powerfully, they ineradicably imprint themselves on your mind. The sensation is as if waking from a dream, as when the reality of one thing blurs with the hazy beauty of another.
PRAISE FROM FAISAL MOHYUDDIN, POETRY JUDGE
This poem is, for much of it, funny and sardonic; as the speaker says, ironically, “it’s rich, it’s / all too rich.” Yet, as it moves along and pulls the reader towards its heartbreaking close, the tone shifts dramatically to one of loss, perhaps even of grief. Throughout the poem, a second-person piece about a Hippies-themed Homecoming dance that feels much too artificial, much too disconnected from the era it is trying to emulate, the “you” is painfully absent. It’s this absence that defines the poem, that presses down heavily upon the speaker, both translating and clarifying their disdain for the dance into a deep discomfort with the “ever- / bleakening world.” As we observe the chaperones who “patrol the room like pale, stodgy / ghosts,” the ghost of the “you” remains, and we wonder if the club-swinging policeman referenced earlier might be responsible in some way. Longingly, the speaker says, “and so i / stand stock-still in the very heart of it, / gazing up at the crisscross of fairy lights amid this / cacophony of gyrations, and think of you. / would you weep at this spectacle? / or did you / see it in your mind’s eye all along?” It’s the preciseness of the details, and the way the poet weaves together so many layers of significance into these details, that gives this poem a richness and power that are rewarded by multiple readings. Such a powerfully complex poem speaks to the talents of a very skilled, perceptive poet, one whose mature eye for irony, loss, and craft will continue to guide their writing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lilliana Resnik is a writer and student at Urbana High School in Ijamsville, Maryland who is preparing to graduate in 2020. She is a passionate reader, writer, and, when not writing, is probably at rehearsal for the school play. She would like to thank the 60s activists for their inspiration.