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June 7th, 2011 - Lisa Folkmire

Back when it was repetitions

of “liquor before beer never

fear, beer before liquor never

sicker” the summer of graduation

parties and the bullshit advice

we tried to give each other before

we left the nest (so to speak), I

guess I was the queen bullshitter

as I stood up and read the graduation

speech that I wrote and thought while

I gave it “I don’t actually

know what I’m saying or why I’m

saying it” which has been, admittedly,

a lifelong problem, and also

I would like to add the real

advice to give any high school

graduate who may be prone to

such antics is to drink your water

and pace yourself, but you learn that all

if you choose to drink on some old

carpeted floor in a house with

some almost indiscernible

sign tacked on the front of it. Leaning

up against a couch suddenly

wondering what your parents are

doing but knowing you’re too drunk

to facetime them so instead

you live in the present and then

a few years later maybe you’ll

move back in with them and get a job

working retail while you get a

graduate degree in no


than poetry and then suddenly

you have that degree and you know

it’s time to shine but turns out it’s

a hard business to crack but

you’ve always had some luck, and a

customer gives you a lead on

a job with full pay and benefits

(or bennys as you’ll eventually

jokingly/eternally deem them

once you have them and can joke

about these things because life and

all of the possibly detrimental

decisions you’ve made are no

longer crashing in on you) and

then one day when you are sitting

at the job, you realize

that you are in fact happy

to work to live and not live to

work, unlike what you always said

you wanted, and somebody will read this and say

I thought so much more would happen

to you (warning: this type crops up

often and isn’t warned about enough)

and you will remind them that you’re

still young and they’ll say almost thirty

and just remember that after you

drink your water and pace yourself

to also get offline for longer

periods than you think necessary

because that in fact weeds this type

out and when the pandemic

hits and they say go create something

beautiful what they’re saying is make something for us to judge

and at the end of the day you’ll

just buy a house with your love and

adopt a dog and spend one too

many moments worrying about

what else you’re doing wrong, but you’ll

have the job and an upstairs full

of books and you’ll keep yourself on

a steady track of reading and

writing and when you look at it

all, you’ll still be excited for

the day you do all that you once said

was possible on the podium

on the stage in the ceremony

and maybe something you never saw

coming because at the end of

the day, you’ll never really know

what you’re saying (at least not at

almost thirty), but you do good

things anyway, or what you hope

to be good, as in being kind

and understanding you and the

way you fit into the great big

system and all of its own tiny

and not so tiny fatal flaws.


Lisa Folkmire is a writer from Warren, Michigan. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts where she studied poetry. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Up the Staircase Quarterly, The Mantle, Glass, Barren Magazine, Alegrarse, and Okay Donkey.

Lisa encourages you to take a few moments to learn about the Ruth Ellis Center.


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