The Campus Canterbury Tales

Below are the results of a creative assignment called “The Campus Canterbury Tales” (shared with student permission)

The Hyper-masculine Intellectual by Kassidi Jones

In every class, there is a man so fair
with Dolce glasses and expensive hair.
He spends more keeping his locks long and sleek
than work-study students earn in a week.
His sweaters are made of cashmere and wool.
His tablets keep his leather satchels full.
His gadgets are without an apple seed
because he’s “so against corporate greed.”
And if he keeps some scruff upon his face,
it’s ‘cause he stays up writing about race
for his wack column in the Daily Penn
that he brags about to all of his friends.
But on to his behavior in the class,
for daily he is sure to show his ass.
If someone is wrong, in his eyes are sparks,
because he has the chance to quote Karl Marx.
He speaks over the women in the room,
because he thinks his brain will make them swoon.
When he is challenged, he puffs out his chest
(almost pops a button off of his vest)
and does his best to verbally destroy
whoever dared to challenge this frail boy.
On this subject, I will give you intel:
his brain is a stand in for his pintel.[1]
Since he can’t whip it out in seminars,
he preaches his academic memoirs,
for he has studied all important texts
and if you don’t respect that, he’ll be vexed.
To save yourself some time and energy,
just let your eyes glaze over when he speaks.
You’ll only miss his cerebral climax:
“I have first edition Twain paperbacks.”

[1] Penis

The Frat Boy by Tyler Bloom

The Frat Boy stood big and tall,
Wearing the shirt from his freshman hall.
Born on the Main Line to mom and dad,
It was extremely clear to the world that he had
Not gotten much sleep the night before;
He was busy having fun on the dance floor.
Upon his face was four days’ worth of stubble
And checking his watch, he realized he was in trouble;
His TA had told him that he could no longer miss class
And with one more absence, he would fail and not pass.
He slipped on his Sperry’s, those shoes he laced;
Through the door and across the bridge he raced.
Halfway to lecture, he needed to stop;
The detour he chose? A coffee shop.
In need of caffeine and never feeling worser,
He got a large coffee; he paid with bursar.
“Have a nice day!” yelled the barista.
The frat boy left quickly; he was at least a
Block or two away from the lecture hall,
And his brow began to sweat in the heat of early fall.
At last, he reached the class’s location,
But the doors were locked; he felt frustration.
Was he even at the right destination?
He checked his phone and right away,
He saw his mistake; it was Saturday.

A Cappella Singer by Karis Stephen

She liked to sing in the shower,
But with her song came her voice’s power.
So loud she was that her neighbors awoke
And that’s how she made enemies with many a folk.
She walked down Locust with her headphones in her ears,
You could see her singing under her breath and so could her peers.
In fact, she sang with such gusto that it wasn’t under her breath at all
Without subtlety in winter, spring, summer, and fall.
I swear I always saw her holding a bag of cough drops.
She rests her voice when she isn’t singing, actually she barely talks.
Except for when it nears her semesterly show
Then her voice grows and grows and grows.
She holds paper flyers in her hands
And yells at innocent passer-by to buy tickets perchance.
And every time they refuse her plea
She gets upset but continues to sing with glee.
Alongside her singing group she causes a ruckus
They hoot and holler and break out into song, lucky us.
All of them together despise using musical instruments
And show off their voices by singing their sentiments.
She feels incomplete without her singing friends and their vocal chords.
Collectively they drink a lot of water, which they claim that their art affords.
But, I’m not too sure—I’m just a fella,
Who doesn’t understand a wink about collegiate a cappella.

The Frat Boy by Storey Wanglee

A proud member of the order of Beta Omega Iota, the Frat Boy wears a black baseball cap with his letters embroidered above the brim in steel grey thread. Too chill of a guy to be bothered with a bulky backpack, he carries in his right hand a sleek MacBook computer and in his left a Hubbub latte. He confidently struts down locust, the bounce in his step bumping along with black earphones that blast his boy’s DJ mix of the latest Kanye and catchy EDM tunes. The Frat Boy spots an acquaintance as he passes the Starbucks under Commons and shouts, “Hey, good to see you! Let’s catch up sometime, man.” The Frat Boy doesn’t really intend to catch up, but said it to be nice. He woke up this morning with a girl in his bed from the sorority mixer the night before. He has no plans to text her, but he’s sure they’ll see each other again sometime around campus. Not too formal but not too informal, he wears a red and blue Penn sweater and slacks with a pair of brown boat shoes. In terms of politics, he prefers to avoid to subject, but considers himself socially liberal and fiscally conservative. His stride is firm and sure up and over the 38th street bridge, as the Frat Boy never trips on uneven brick. Today is slightly chilly, but on warm fall or Spring days, he can frequently be seen SABsing outside of Frontera or on College Green with his boys. Although he’s no longer on the basketball team like he was in high school, he frequents Pottruck for both the court and the weights. He often follows up a workout with a Chipotle burrito or a Greek Lady platter with friends. The Frat Boy is always pleasant to talk to at social gatherings, almost too pleasant, and frequently maintains a positive attitude, unless of course he’s blackout drunk. He enjoys succeeding in his classes, but is always down to hang out or play pong and will never disappoint for a good time.

The Musical Theater Fuckboi

Along comes a chap in a Kinky Boots tee
Stepping out of Platt, whistling “Look, I Made a Hat” is he;

Sporting dance shoes, backpack bulging from a hefty load
Of sheet music, ricola, and musical librettos

But don’t dare be fooled by his upspeak, nor by his impressive falsetto
Nor his fedora, his harp, his sassy scarf
Or his love of Raul Esparza videos

For he is that rare Penn creature, one whose secret few do know:
The straight musical theater boy in a gay musical theater boy’s clothes

Every other weekend, he’s in a different show
He FB invites you to each and every one even though you never go…

He’ll remind you every other day that Hal Prince is an alum
He’s writing his own musical, he brags
Its melodies he hums

At himself in rehearsal room mirrors he often stares,
Practicing his turns, fixing his hair
Appraising them against those of Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire…

And the straight musical theater girls, to his side flock they
Pegging him as their potential token gay male attaché…

But little do they know that after the show
When all’s been done, drunk, sung, and said:

Thoroughly disarmed, already fallen for his charm
They’ll wind up, face-up, in his bed.