Ivy League Graduation Speech

Though you graduated from here,
you have only dragged things out:
eventually you will be spared nothing.
After so much has been
done for you, you will know what it is
to be a means for others’ ends, your time
a commodity, your life something to sell.
They’ve told you to believe in yourself,
to take chances, dream bigbut
these are uninspired lies useful to
keep your energy up, which is not
nothing, but amoral as caffeine.
Know, though, there are small moments in
which you can choose over and over
again your life: restraining yourself
from saying something knee-jerk,
speaking up in a silent meeting about
an obvious but unpopular reform.
Now come forth and shake our hands,
firmly, pose for a few snapshots, then
make room for those who are next,
a long, endless line waiting behind you.

Adam Scheffler is a poet and graduate student. He grew up in California, received his MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and is currently finishing his PhD in English at Harvard. His first book of poems – A Dog’s Life– was selected by Denise Duhamel as the winner of the Jacar Press Full-Length Poetry Book Contest. His dissertation is about what other people or characters are like in lyric poems, and focuses on the poetry of James Wright, Thom Gunn, Adrienne Rich, and Frank O’Hara.

Also check out Adam’s new poetry book “A Dog’s Life”, available here.

To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website.

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