Yesterday I decided it’d be funny to post my old poetry (at the suggestion of Twitter buddy @emilytastic). So I went home and rummaged through old boxes containing dozens of dusty notebooks and binders full of yellowed pages. The plan was to read through them and select the juiciest pieces for your amusement.
I now realize that was a terrible idea.
What I discovered was that not only was I a horrible writer as a teenager, I was also totally full of shit. I was convinced that I was the deepest and smartest and most wounded teenager the world had ever seen, and I was so incredibly unique that no one could possibly understand me. These were apparently some of my favorite words, as proven by their repeated use: oppression, ignorance, darkness, conformity, paradox, apathy, and hypocrisy. And oh, did I mention the constant use adverbs and alliteration? Oh. My. God.
These poems (if you can even call them that) paint the picture of an incredibly lonely, angry, and probably mentally unstable young lady with delusions of grandeur and a really hard time keeping metaphors consistent. She was also sexually frustrated, into Wicca, fond of death imagery and the phrases “silent scream” and “deafening silence,” and apparently convinced she was the reincarnation of Anne Sexton or Sylvia Plath. I can almost hear her voice reciting the poems in front of her freshman year Creative Writing Club, 100% earnest and with one of those awful Beatnik poetry voices. You have no idea how much I am cringing right now.
I considered going back on my promise to share these with you. When one is mortified with embarrassment, it is often difficult to see the humor in a situation. But then I got a glimpse of myself at sixteen, a beautiful girl but always trying to cover it up, dressed in a charming combination of hippie, goth, indie rocker, and riot grrrl styles, trying so hard to act like a free spirit but oh so incredibly serious and uptight. And scared. God, I was scared of everything. But I tried so hard to act like a tough girl. I watched movies and read books I didn’t understand and pretended I liked them because I wanted so badly to impress people. I wrote this poetry and pretended I understood myself and you and society and the government and religion and The Truth. I can see this girl walking barefoot, drinking coffee, writing manifestos, hating the “phonies,” worshiping the The Northwest and everything Indie, believing with all her heart that all of her thoughts and all of her feelings were truly original. There she is–this scowling, unshaven, thrift shop clothed girl who thinks she knows everything, reciting her poetry as if her life depends on it, screaming “LISTEN TO ME!” at the top of her lungs.
Did I mention the deafening silence?
I think I’ll just call this a study in humility. Yes, I am a published author and I wrote a book I am very proud of. But before all that, I wrote this:
A collection of one million souls
enters my coffin,
breaking the lock
everything in sight.
They rip off my dress
and wash off the war paint
that was smeared across my face
to conceal the agony of my death
and to maintain my false beauty
a few days
before the worms and maggots
eat it all away,
but a few mangled bones.
Lonesome doves wipe their eyes
with the porous flesh of tangled limbs.
A blessing like no other
the black moon does cast
on our lifeless bodies
caught in the glare of the suffocating dawn.
I call your name
to break the silence of strong shadows,
but the weakness of the wind silences my cry;
I’m blown into an abyss I’m afraid to descend.
The demon you have created in me
devours my hope of leaving you behind.
And coming to the realization
that paths cannot be structured
or paved with gold,
I realize my life has been choreographed
to follow the painful rhythm
you have been blessed with teaching.
OK, I’m going to go die now. But first, a request. You know what would make this really worthwhile? If all of you posted some of YOUR horrible poetry or journal entries from the dark years. That would make me so happy. Because what’s more fun than laughing at yourself? Laughing at someone else!