By Emily Sernaker

Featured Art: by Fran Hogan

Don’t ever make him a take-me-back
mix CD. But if you do, open with Sam Cooke’s
“Bring It On Home To Me.”
If Kim from high school wants to wait
in the really long line for the panda
at the zoo, don’t complain.
That panda is going to be so cuddly cupping
its paw around the bamboo, your heart
will do a somersault. Besides,
you’ll miss Kim when you’re away
trying to tell her updates
before the metro goes underground.
“I’m going on a date and wearing eyeliner.”
“You’re going on a date with a minor?
Distance can be so hard. If you take
a dance class at the gym don’t stand
in the very back. Halfway through they turn
around and that side becomes the leaders
of the choreographed dance
everyone knows but you. You want
a middle-back spot for minimal shame.
One more thing about boys—
sometimes they’re sending a message
by not sending a message. There are many
films and books about this. If you need
an easy Halloween costume
go with Clark Kent. You just wear
glasses, a button-up shirt, a loose tie,
and show a Superman logo
underneath. You can even make
Daily Planet badge if there’s time.
That noise you hear in the morning
opening the coffee shop isn’t
the other barista sneezing.
It’s the espresso machine warming up—
you don’t need to say bless you.
Ask your mom how she’s doing. Early
in each phone call ask her and really listen.
If you don’t, she’ll let you talk and talk
and what kind of person
do you want to be? You should
probably read Dante, that gets referenced
a lot. Anyone who hates Bob Dylan,
especially the Blood On The Tracks album,
is wrong. He’s given us a road map
to life, they should be grateful.
One last thing—don’t be scared
when the Georgetown cross-country team
is running toward you full speed
on the bridge. I know
it’s the bridge with the narrow walkway
close to traffic, where there’s nowhere
for you to step to the side.
Just raise up both of your hands.
Sixty people will give you high-fives
and keep going.

Emily Sernaker is a writer and activist. Her work has appeared in Rattle, Ms. Magazine Online, GOOD, and Politics and Prose District Lines. She currently studies poetry at Pacific University.

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