Yesterday and today I’ve spent some time looking over old shit. What is the feeling you experience when you read things you wrote when you were a wee teen? Is it horror? Revulsion? Sympathy? Shame? Raucous amusement? I want to reach back ten years and pat myself on the head and tell myself that it’ll be all right. I also want to shake myself and tell that stupid girl that it’s ok if not everybody loves her, it’s ok if she has deep flaws because really everyone does and she’s not so special, that she really does have some good qualities and she shouldn’t let the things she’s not good at get her down. I want to tell her to look around and try to get out of her bubble. I want to tell her that she is too proud and too ignorant. I was also really horny all the time, judging by all these poems about wanting people to kiss me, and I want to tell this 15-year-old who’d have her first kiss two years later and be totally disappointed by it and detest the song “back at one” and herself for the rest of her life that it’s not really that big a deal and she should relax. I mean, I wrote a flimsy poem about the death of love. That’s pretty emo if you ask me. My mom says she showed it to a lady who was a kind of mentor to her in Taiwan who now lives in San Francisco and is actually a poet, and the lady said I had a special sense of humor and was a promising child. I keep forgetting to ask my mom who this lady was.

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  1. I think the funniest old writing I’ve had was from fifth and sixth grade, when my writing skills were ahead of my thinking skills. Specifically amusing were a science project (in which we had to create a version of an animal that would survive after a great flood) and a belligerently pacifist poem.

    But I also wrote a beautiful emo poem of which I’m still proud.

    1. At 16 I too wrote a pacifist poem, but it was whiny and helpless. It was like “I wish you could delete stuff in real life, like you can delete stuff from computers” and ended with the line “we will achieve peace one day.” It’s horrible.

      After making this post, I found the only three poems I have written since 2000. They were for an assignment for this american poetry class I took with Robert Haas, who I love. Here they are:

      I.
      The River
      
      is clear and it has carved out a home.
      This aperture
           among the rocks, wrapped in stunted bush-growths each a caricature
      of the next, dips as precipitously as
         the silhouettes of osprey bobbing for
           fish. 
      
      They curve between the small boulders; one
      	is left behind.
           Suspended in fractured, jagged glass, she “awaits her laconic
      	Lancelot,” and quivers into a shadow.
      	   Only the wordless villain obfuscates
           so.
      
      Note.
      “awaits her laconic Lancelot” Newsweek, June 22, 1998, from an article
      titled “Decoding the X-Files”
      
      [This poem imitates Marianne Moore’s style. It has some big words. It uses
      a quotation that the author admires on a subject that the author really
      admires. It adheres to some kind of syllabic constraint, line by line in
      each stanza: 9, 4, 16, 11, 10, 1. Its last lines are really obscure.]
      
      II.
      The Parking Lot’s Grievance
      
      The scored pavement is already quite shimmering with heat,
      It is so late that the hunger growls in my stomach,
      And I roll down the tinted window
      And watch the students through the summer haze.
      
      Note.
      Parking lot, therefore some large institution; students, therefore a
      school. Grievance, therefore there is something to complain of. Tinted
      window, therefore a car, therefore a visiting lady, not a kid who
      complains. Hunger and heat, therefore a missed lunch appointment.
      Shimmering, therefore she has no excuse on account of weather. And the
      person she’s waiting for is really late, since her stomach’s already
      rumbling. 
      
      [This poem imitates Ezra Pound translating Li Po’s poetry (“The Jewelled
      Stairs’ Grievance,” in particular). Once in high school, a friend visiting
      from college was going to take me out to lunch, but I missed school that
      day and have felt guilty about it ever since.]
      
      III.
      Peerless Quality Three Generations of Quality
      
      Where green and white are a same thing the brown is there, but not there;
      it is inside. The squares have round. He sips sips sips Ips and whites the
      wall wash.
      Ip is short for Ipanema.
      Green grape crates have feathers. Green feather blue feather green feather
      blue feather it’s stupid. The enclose tinkles shifts and blinks peacocks
      because it is so very very kind of clock to be a purple notebook wake.
      Waken the burrito.
      
      [This poem imitates the style of Gertrude Stein. The first two sentences
      were written in class. And ok, the story that Professor Hass told in
      lecture one day about his grandson (get it? Three Generations???) reminded
      my friend and me about a mutual friend of ours whose logic about aesthetics
      sometimes seems to follow along the same lines, so we speak of hating blue
      feathers whenever arbitrary opinions come up in conversation.]
      

      To tell you the unadulterated truth I’m really proud of these three. Like, really proud. Also I really, really love Marianne Moore, like, so much. zomg. Show me your kid-emo poem and I’ll show you mine /titillated

      1. I prefer sometimes to read letters that other people wrote to me. Cuz, at least it’s not me writing it so i can’t cringe as much, yet it still makes me remember being a teenager.
        AAAAg, bad kid poetry is too embarrassing to reproduce!

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