In An Iron Mask

 

Résumé by Dorothy Parker

Razors pain you;

Rivers are damp;

Acids stain you;

 

And drugs cause cramp,

Guns aren’t lawful;

Nooses give;

 

Gas smells awful;

You might as well live.

ph. by me

In bed with three awfully hard cushions propped behind me, I read this poem out loud (from Pinsky and Dietz’ Poems to Read). “Might as well” fit like a backscratcher between “You” and “live” and it got me laughing until I toppled from my spot. I had gone through 193 pages before finding this Dorothy Parker gem. Salty. Sharp. A kind of piece I’d never taken to before.

It reminded me of 2009 when my losing streak was at its prime. I was entrenched in fears. How to learn without talent? How to listen without anger? Living seemed only an option since there was no immediate nuisance (that death would bring). So I lived, or more accurately, just sat and watched things move around me for a little bit. It wasn’t exciting.

I think I’m trying to say that I’ve been lost and breathless, a ghost in clothes. And I will probably go through that again, but I feel now, that I can survive it. It wasn’t so bad. If I’m living, I might as well write, and if I’m writing I might as well grow and be changed to what I can’t imagine. After all, I don’t want to die in an iron mask. The only poetry I leave, being the thoughts I never got to say.

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16 comments

  1. Mike Clark

    “If I’m living, I might as well write, and if I’m writing I might as well grow and be changed to what I can’t imagine.”

    Awesome, inspiring words. Creativity is key when it comes to growing or adapting to change … thanks for sharing.

    • angelaejkoh

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for stopping by again! I remember hearing from you before.

      I haven’t mentioned it, but I can’t believe you have an old typewriter on your wooden chest. Very nice. I especially enjoyed “Parallax” from your site. I hope you share your inspirations or just your process/intention behind your work…Hmm actually, I hate doing that with my poems since nothing I can intend is as good as what the reader interprets in his mind….haha so I guess I’m being a hypocrite!

      Great work and hope you update soon,

      angela

  2. Tim

    “I was entrenched in fears. How to learn without talent? How to listen without anger? Living seemed only an option since there was no immediate nuisance (that death would bring).”

    Strangely enough, I find myself in this exact situation now, although probably through consequences of a different circumstance. I feel like I’m stuck in a cycle in which I live to work a job I have absolutely no passion about. However, I need that job to sustain my living.
    I can’t break out without the right “talent.” And then I ask myself, “Do I work to live, or live to work?”

    Ms. Parker’s sharp poem pierces me in a strange way that reminds me of this cycle — or at least my emotions pertaining to it. Nevertheless, I guess we might as well live. Write on, Angela… I feel your voice carries the hearts and souls of an unheard population.

    (I’m still waiting for your debut novel.)

    ~Tim

    • angelaejkoh

      Hi Tim,

      It’s nice to hear from you again. I’m sorry for what you’re going through! At least you know it’s not out of the ordinary. Hope you still get time to write things down here and there. It might be cheesy to say but, of course you’re suffering and of course it’s hard. I think if you weren’t suffering at all, now that would be a bad sign.

      I believe you’re grappling with something important and also fighting through it. Best of luck on your work. Keep me updated. I’m still working towards a draft for that novel, but thank you!

      angela

  3. Aaron Chang

    I envy people who write creatively and poetically as you. Just thought I’d put that out there.

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  5. Alex Pyun

    I enjoy reading your blog! “I was entrenched in fears. How to learn without talent?” I experienced the fear of not having talent at one time. Everyone else seemed more talented than me at what I was doing. There were those that were much younger than me yet possessed the same skills. Didn’t they possess things that I lacked? Is it talent? But what is talent exactly? Isn’t the ability to motivate oneself and dedicate oneself to a task a talent itself? If so, I am very talented. I learned my art by an extreme dedication, but is this the same as raw talent? Who knows? Thanks for your post! :)

  6. Thomas

    I remember that Dorthy Parker thing from so long ago I didn’t realize anyone anywhere could be finding it and reading it for the first time. Things DO go on and you might as well live.

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