Lubbock, 1955

by John Poch

When Buddy Holly first invented high school,
the principal proclaimed it from the podium.
The chemistry teacher gave a slice of sodium
to every boy with a playa lake or swimming pool.

Something in the aquifer or the Lubbock Lights,
and the Monday backyard ping-pong tournament began.
The home-ec teacher casseroled her lesson plan
and made out with the baseball coach post-Friday nights.

The remnants of the cotton crop wind-blown from trailers
drifted pretty at the edge of town like snow.
Our grid of streets named after other cities, though,
was wind-swept clean as any Midwest minor failure.

January and June, a boy named Elvis played
his part to frame the spring semester, and in between
senioritis burned in nearly every teen.
And summer came. Then James Dean died. Undismayed

by fall, the birth of rock and roll was our new knowledge.
Toward winter, the girls wore sweaters soft as malted shakes.
When the mascot fired his gun for real for heaven’s sakes
and terrified the Muleshoe Mustangs, he felt like college.

Published on December 16, 2014