James Brown

University Open Day

English was the uncoolest: awkward people
reading Shakespeare in a room.
We got trapped, but managed to get out
before the poetry started.

Food Tech was okay, with fresh bread
dyed to look mouldy, and bright blue juice
that it was easy to guess was lemon.
You could buy cans of air, too.

There was a long queue at Chemistry
because you got to make potions.
One of the white-coats
came rushing out in a real lather.

Psychology had us reading
a short paragraph describing ‘Mr Smith’,
then answering questions about his
personality. Opinions divided neatly.

The trick turned out to be a single word.
Some paragraphs described Mr Smith
as ‘warm’, others as ‘cold’.
The psychologists beamed cleverly.

‘Applied commonsense,’ snorted a man
wearing a Microbiologists
               are Little Buggers T-shirt.
Outside, padded eggs were being dropped

from a rooftop. Engineering.
People kept saying Vet was best.
It had the cow with the glass panel.
Actually, the panel wasn’t that interesting,

sort of dark and red. The cow
was eating hay in a small concrete room.
Mostly it just ate, but now and then
it would look sadly round at everyone,

and that’s when I got to thinking
about philosophy.
The department wasn’t easy to find.
It turned out to be a single office

down a badly lit corridor.
A faded note on the door said
‘Back in 10’. And so
my education began.

Author’s Note


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