My girlfriend was always angry. I apologized a lot, thinking it was my fault. She was angry that the person she was actually angry at, didn’t notice. I noticed. I received her anger. I was learning about love. 

After we broke up I filled a page with woe-some verse about the gnarled piece of driftwood I noticed on the beach the day we mutually said goodbye. I analogized the shit out of my confusion. I made it granular, portable, macroscopic, invisible.

I stopped writing poetry when it betrayed me. A teacher told me that poetry expresses what words cannot. I wondered how that could be. Poetry is words. 

At the time, metaphor and simile were not tools I could direct. I thought in pictures, so I drew letters. Sometimes words formed. Sometimes sentences. Sometimes they were only spillage of sloppy paroxysm. 

That same teacher punched down into my persuasive essays pathologizing my teen pathos. I was an easy target. Empty ethos and loose logos always fell short in the marking scheme.

Now I see that learning to write poetry meant that I was learning to hide my feelings in plain sight. Camouflaged and contrary, every anthem I scribbled out, no matter how loud, was destined to be bottled up, shaken, disturbed.

When my mom read my poem about my girlfriend she looked at me quizzically, but what is about? She said. I got scared. I was called out. Wasn't it obvious I didn't want to talk about it? Was she seeing through my veil? I thought that a poem, my poem, would speak for itself. I truly believed that poems were above scrutiny. Should they have imbued impunity? I had no defense.

If I had wanted to tell my mom what was going on in my life, I would have just said so. Maybe. How do you read between the words that are already written between the lines? More problematic, how do you share them?

Figures. Every figurative step I took towards learning actually swept me further from being understood.

One response to “1986”

  1. My early morning reading from you Chris was a moving way to awaken from my weeklong illness throwing me back into my teen angst where I did not use words to express my total lack of belonging and worth which at that time were the teens around me both girls and boys. Your comment about how your mom could see thru your poem to what was happening with you, was like me thinking that my mom could not see my teen pain, by just seeing me, or in a gesture or in my silence. Thanks for the time travel this morning my friend. Enjoy your week!!


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