Daily Archives: 16 Sep 2006

Poetism Commentary Take 1: "Aftermath"

The poem in question: Aftermath

Written September 20, 1993, I believe Aftermath is the first poem I wrote that I kept. I’m not 100% sure; I’d have to go back and check through my high school English papers (yes, I’m such a big nerd that I have my classwork from my freshman year of high school).

I had Mr. Williams for freshman English. That year was the only year that I took “Honors English.” English was near the top of the list of my favorite school subjects, and was even my university major until I stopped going to school. When I go back to finish my bachelor’s degree someday, I’m pretty sure it will be in English or a related department.

Anyway, since English was one of my favorite subjects, why not take the honors or AP class every year? Because I’m lazy, that’s why. Since I excelled in the easy version of the class, I finished my work before everyone else and could often convince my teachers to let me do something else for the hour, like go to the computer lab to play Warcraft II. Those were the days.

Back to the poem. It was for a class assignment. I had recently read The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant for the first time and was in to the fantasy setting. I liked the sound of the word “aftermath” and so set out to describe one. I picture battlegrounds, and this one particularly, more closely resembling something out of The Lord of the Rings rather than more modern day warfare. “A dreary and battered fortress” meant, to me, Revelstone or Helm’s Deep rather than a series of bunkers in the Middle East. This probably has to do with the fact that I think swords are about eight billion times cooler than guns.

I also fancied myself as somewhat of a morbid person–I thought it was cool, I guess–though upon reflection I realize that I was probably just weird. The morbid-thinking brought about cool words like “carnage” and “scattered limbs.”

The young woman weeping was put in to evoke some emotion, specifically the emotion that causes teachers to give As on class assignments. This is obviously not one of my best works, but I was 13 and just wrote this because I was supposed to. It, along with other poem assignments from Mr. Williams’s class, served as a testing ground for two years later, when I wound up in Miss Decker’s junior English class and really started writing a lot more, often because Miss Decker hated what I wrote, which is a story for another time.

There’s a market for poetry commentary, right?

For a period of about three years at the end of my teenage experience, I really enjoyed writing poetry. Sometime after that, the frequency of my writing diminished greatly, to the point where it has now been almost two years since I even tried to write a poem (not counting haiku, of which mine are mostly silly).

Lately I have been really wanting to get back into the whole poetry thing, but I haven’t found my avenue yet, or even my dusty side street.

I love words. They fascinate me to no end. When they are used in an interesting way, I feel that all is right with the world. Clever wordery is a balm to my balm-needing thing. Soul. Consider the lines from the new Barenaked Ladies single, “Easy”:

Call it self-defense / You can obfuscate and manipulate, but it’s only at your own expense

How often do you hear the word “obfuscate” used in regular conversation? I think that may be my point, but I’m not entirely sure, as it is past my bedtime and my daughter will be waking me up in about five and a half hours.

Anyway, the point is that I think that reviewing my old poetry and recapturing the things I was feeling at the time I wrote it will help me start writing more often again. So I am going to offer commentary for each of the 54 poems currently published on my site, plus a few others that I have tucked away in some notebooks somewhere. In a hundred years when college students are studying me and how great I was, it will be nice for them to know the real story behind “Aye Chi Monkey,” don’t you think?

I plan on going in order by date written, but I may deviate from that a little bit, depending on how things go. Without further ado, please proceed to the next blog entry. This one is long enough as it is.