One Year on Medium

Madrid, New Mexico | 35mm film | photo by author

An email from Medium alerted me to the fact that I have been on here for a year. I couldn’t have foreseen when I joined that I would go from testing the waters, to participating just about every day, to barely being on here at all — in the space of 12 months. That seems to be my MO with just about every social platform, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised! Oh how my initial fire dies when it perceives the dousing splash of pressure. . . .

To commemorate a year’s worth of journey down the road, I present you now with a poem I wrote when I was 18 (1994/5). I honestly have no explanation for it: I can remember writing it (on one of those yellow legal pads that I got from the stationery closet at my Dad’s work), and I know I was obsessed with T.S. Eliot at the time, but I have absolutely no idea what my motivation was or what it’s supposed to mean. Possibly I didn’t know back then either. Some of the language makes me uncomfortable; some of the words I wouldn’t use now. (WHY is the question. . . .)

What I do recall is that, at the time, I felt it was somehow significant, and when I joined a creative writing class at college this was the piece I chose to present to them for group critique, having agonized over many drafts and typed it up countless times on my Dad’s IBM Selectric. Their response is lost to history, although I might have some notes somewhere in a box. The critique structure involved a writer passing out their piece at the end of one class period, then everyone would read it and have some kind of reply at the next meeting, during which time the writer was required to remain silent. Each writer was allowed to respond to the feedback the class after that (or, possibly, just after they were all done talking, something along those lines). I remember being terrified by the anticipationg and relieved when it was over.

Without further ado, I present to you the unedited, un-reworked Postman — steeped in 1990s teenage thought processes, a poem I would not write now.

(Originally there was a lot more formatting to the lines, but I can’t figure out how to replicate it on Medium.)

Such are the limitations
of consciousness —
I think that I am strong
but I am weak, weak, weak!
and all these labors
are pointed toward some
shining goal
on the horizon
that I as yet cannot see.
Dirt will accumulate
under my fingernails
if I do not scrub them,
just as the free mind
will slouch back into captivity
if it has no will to act.

These are the brushings
of a simple girl’s life!
Here — in this box -
I have placed all of importance:
freedom, peace, love, earth,
and religion,
time, family, and understanding
Explain to me
why this would be
Pandora’s demise
to some
Paint me a picture of reasons
for the pain and ignorance
in this world
— experience joy —
and then tell me
why people succumb
to their demons.
How does killing
resolve the wars between nations?
there are so many different levels here,
too many secrets kept
for 1000 different purposes

open the box

Help they’ve got me!
it cried,
a piteous appeal echoing
through the crowded room.
And he smiled slightly
at the heads that turned
wondering —
had he imagined the cry?
He continued his conversation
as usual
and business as usual
But he could feel the despair
in his brain
and see evidence
on the faces of the politicians
around him
— The cry had been his own!
With terror in his eyes,
he pushed through
the throng
escaping the lions’ den
to be enfolded
in the arms of the city.

Escape — that act sublime —
our whole lives
are dedicated to it:
whether we’re rushing
into the world
escaping the womb in birth
or going out —
escaping it through death
existence centers around it
Poor seek to escape
their suffering with riches,
and the slaves with freedom
Glory to the lunatics
who escape normal life
Can you escape yourself enough
to love your fellow man?
See, all our names
put together
spell the word MORTAL
we’re always one step away
from leaving and arriving
at the same time
and the postman
can save us only
from anonymity.

Comments are welcome! Thank you for reading. . . . .

Mother, daughter, photographer, writer (sort of). www.texasgirlphotography.com www.instagram.com/amyjasek

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