On the Poetry Editors and Poets list on LinkedIn, there is an ongoing discussion on what exactly is stream of consciousness and how is it used in poetry. One poster has called for members to post examples of stream of consciousness poetry. Here is my contribution. It is a poem I wrote when I was in graduate school and entered in a competition for graduate student poetry. It won honorable mention.
The Partridge, Parts I & II
A Riddle and Proposed Solution
Poetry has become incestuous.
Conversation with a friend, May 18, 1981
Donald E. Carr points out that the sense impressions of one-celled animals are not edited for the brain. “This is philosophically interesting in a rather mournful way, since it means that only the simplest animals perceive the universe as it is”.
Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Icarus fell because he believed
one could soar too high.
In my yard, flowers
restore a sense of order to chaotic days.
In my house, the books scream at me
from many rooms. I’ve lost all power
to see or know or dream
of Michelangelo, of works that aren’t
and never could be. In my yard
foremost resides a sense of order.
You know who I am. Look down.
You’ll find me trampled under foot.
The quail exploded
from the weeds and pheasants stretched
their necks and lifted
their bodies in flight.
We made fires in the cleared fields.
Mowers cut the air
with noise. In the yard
I come and go, dreaming of
My hand smells of gas,
sweats on the vibrating chrome,
lifts to take a beer.
There’s never silence,
even when the work is done;
freeways never cease.
They grumble like gods’ stomachs
taking Modern Communion.
In a theater, as in Plato’s cave,
shadows flicker on the wall. Here there are
no truck sounds, no incessant pounding, no
backing machines with warning whistles;
only frozen iotas from the past
that pass into our future. Celluloid sound
walls that block the roar from Boeings crying
as the sky, molecule by molecule,
is swiftly subdued. That was 43,
and none of us was eager to go.
One crazy one night
shot off his own toe while we
waited for the boats.
We all envied him
being the only sane one.
pulsating energy, strokes
the blades of a fan,
causes it to slow,
even reverse direction.
Now there is no noise;
the sound’s erased them
all, even the memory
of crickets, only
an electric whine
and voices almost human
on mid summer nights.
You weren’t there to see.
My Lai’s only a match flame.
We built other fires.
You could pass your fingers through
the fan, it moves so slowly.
You know who I am. The one on the bus
with the misshapen head. The one who
embarrassed you with too loud talk.
It’s my eyes that you refuse
to look into, so mine teach you nothing.
You see me talk to myself, and sigh
to get off. In all this world
there’s only idiots who see what is.
Visions are easy.
I saw the lighted tree once
in October blaze.
I saw a boy fall
reaching to pick an apple.
No one buried him.
He fell and was drowned.
I heard his parent warn him
that that would happen,
and he believed it.
No quail were left in the field.
We’d created yard.
Mowers cut the air.
In my yard I come and go.
I trample flowers,
and in them find a dead bird
my cat has brought home to share.
© Joseph Saling and The New Word Mechanic, 1981, 2014