Photography and Poetry

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June 24, 2012 by trixiec67

Introspective Self-Portrait

No More

I always cry silent  tears.

The pain is buried deep down inside.

No one understands.

There’s no one to care.

I live alone in a house full of people.

Another day goes by.

And another night drags on.

It’s especially lonely in the dark.

The empty air is a perfect mate for my empty soul.

While others live their lives out,

I just go through the motions.

Push the button and watch me go.

Go, go, going, gone.

Gone crazy!

You’ll have to put me away.

Hide me from society.

Remove this pathetic sight out of the way.

Bury the pain.

So the silent tears can fall no more.

This poem was written in November of 1985. That was a very long time ago. It was my first semester in Community College. I wrote it and closed the notebook and forgot about it. Then one day I rediscovered it. I must have been well into my second year at the college. I was heavy into photography classes at that point. I had a great love for black and white photography since high school. I loved being in the darkroom and producing images. When I rediscovered this poem, I started to have ideas roll through my head of images to accompany the words. I showed the poem to my instructor. She was a free-spirited person and words accompanied her images quite a bit. Her reaction was not one that I was expecting. Instead of being greeted with encouragement, I was greeted with trepidation and a warning. I was told to “be careful” because the words may become more important than the image. I became discouraged and disappointed. This made me all the more determined to do what I originally had  in mind.

On a chilly afternoon, I grabbed my camera and tripod. I walked to the corner and crossed the street. Since there was never any law enforcement around, I ascended the  gravel embankment that led up to the industrial railroad tracks that were across the street from my home. I glanced down the track to see that all the signal lights were on red: no trains scheduled to roll down the tracks. I made my way across the tracks to the opening into the local park. This, of course, was the official short cut to the park I had been using since I was a kid. It also served as the fastest way to elementary/Jr. high school (cutting through the park) before the days of high school. I reached the bar which no longer had any fencing across it and swung underneath it, coming out next to the “hill” whose only purpose was served in the winter for sledding.

The day was not only chilly on this fall afternoon, but the sun had a difficult time finding its way out from behind the masses of clouds in the sky. The dreary day matched my mood. As I walked in the empty park I realized how much it had changed over the years. The ice rink that used to be there for winter had been long gone. The old wooden swings were now replaced by rubber slats. Teeter totters were a thing of the past. I began to walk toward a lonely brick building covered in graffiti. There were two pad-locked doors on the building. This used to be the public restrooms of the park, now long shut and out of service. I thought it was as good a place as any to being taking pictures. So I set up my camera. Yes. I was usually my own model. I never trusted anyone to take photos of me. Also, by taking the images myself, they were private. No one but me saw them. If I didn’t approve of any of them, no one would ever see them.

I know it sounds strange. Why would someone feel that way about having their picture taken? Plenty. Low self-esteem for one. From the time I entered school at the age of five, I was teased and made fun the very first day. I went to a very small Catholic school from kindergarten until fourth grade. There was a creepy boy in my older sister’s class that had a crush on her. He decided the best way to get  my sister’s attention was by teasing and making fun of me because I, of course, would run to my big sister and she would come to my rescue. He would get her attention, albeit negative. This worked for about three days. Yet he and his younger brothers found it fun to keep hounding me and making me cry long after my sister told me to fight my own battles. Then I was told to “suck it up” and stop crying. Then they’ll stop because they’ll see it doesn’t bother you. Dumbest logic I’ve ever heard. And no, it doesn’t work.  So, I’ve lived with the image in my head of being a “fat, ugly” person my entire life.

Just to “encourage” myself about combining the poem with the image, I decided to get some other opinions. At that time I had a history professor that I adored. He was so interesting and so forward thinking. There were three of us that would “hang out” with him after class and just talk. So one day I presented my poem to my professor and the two other students. (They were quite a bit older than me.) My professor looked at me and asked me what my major was going to be. I told him photography. He looked at me perplexed and said, “You’re kidding.” I laughed because I thought he was joking. He was dead serious. He told me I should be studying English or some other type of creative writing or something. My classmates as well were surprised. This gave me the confidence to present the image and words side by side.

I mounted them together and presented the work for the student art show. It was displayed in the photography section with other works from the students of the photography department. I always enjoyed seeing all the other works in the different medium displayed. One day I was sitting outside the gallery and happened to look in where I knew my piece was hanging. I saw a young woman standing in front of my work with a notebook in hand copying down the poem. I was utterly shocked that my words could move someone so much that they would want to copy them down. I didn’t think that anyone else could have those same feelings. Then again on a different day, I saw another person doing the same thing.

My instructor’s warning didn’t mean a thing to me. She was so worried that the image would get lost and the words would become more important. So what if they did. The entire creation came from me. It all came from within, from my emotions. And those words hold as true today, at times, as they did the day they were originally written.

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