Juvenalia Week

After realising that the last few years have been rather good to him on the writing front, Jason Fischer has decided to take a quick tour through the lands of the writer he used to be and declared this Juvenalia Week. And since he’s under the assumption that the embarrassing mistakes of yesteryear are something all writers share, he’s encouraging others to join him in his public display of work from our misbegotten pasts.

I’m nothing if not a joiner, but seeing as I can’t find my old book of short stories from when I was actually a jouvenile I set the way-back machine to the file on my computer marked “Poetry, 1998” and grabbed one of the hundreds at random. I wrote a lot of poetry over ’98 and ’99 – I’d decided that I’d write a poem a day while I worked on my honors thesis in place and white-space poetics – but this one seems to hit all the standard hallmarks of my work in terms of topics (girls and…well, really that was it), imagery (cigarettes, alcohol, coffee, and hair), and awkward line syntax.

Which, if nothing else, just goes to point out the inherent problems in telling twenty-year-old middle class geek boys to “write what you know.” Especially if he thinks poetry *is* actually a way of impressing girls. I did write some good stuff that year, which eventually got published in journals, and it’s perhaps unsurprising that it’s the stuff that strayed away from this them. As for the rest, well, you could basically remix the following and have a pretty good idea of what I wrote…

Balcony Scenes

Act One

Smoke trail from a cigarette
Her blue eyes
       (that drown the sky)
watch the grey
       drift into the clouds.

Act Two

She is fire and blood and sunset
henna hair and first crush simplicity

The coffee I make goes cold
ignored as she chain smokes
        and dreams

Act Three

A cigarette drowns in spilt coffee

She saves it for later
(A student’s pragmatism, since lost)

Act Four

Night washes the sky with stars
I shelter in the glow of the balcony

She hides behind a veil of hair
her smile afraid to come out of hiding

And if I can track down my old notebook from high school, from the days before I wrote directly onto a computer, I may even find some work that’s even more mortifying in its approach before the week is out…

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