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.

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