Poetry is written in the human mind, and is read by the human conscience. They comprise the metaphysical parallel universe lingering within us all. In the mind rests the conformist logic of everyday life, the unifying factors of all that defines the so-called Human Condition; the common denominators of our essential state of being; the need to eat, sleep, work, talk, listen, age, and ultimately die. It’s in the realm of this logic that the seeds of poetry are sown. Poems are the byproduct of everyday life, that is, in the mind of the poet. When a poem is completed, cut adrift and released to the readership, it is broken up, dissipated, and no longer is it an instrument of universality. A reader of a poem applies his or her own senses and instincts to it, and it becomes a byproduct of an individual conscience. The degree of which a person’s conscience is dictating their moods and actions will influence the emotional effect a poem has at the time of reading. Those moods and actions are in a constant state of flux, meaning the emotional effect of a poem is not concrete. Take The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot, a poem that may purely haunt on any given day, with no academic comprehension taken from it whatsoever, while it may be coldly clinical on another day; no sense of haunting or prophecy or post-war context, only a portrait of one scholar’s template of worldly awareness, delivered as only one who’s lived in both the east and west of the world can deliver.

Poetry is without a doubt the most difficult form of literature to define. Novels and plays are easy to define. The former revolve around a sequence of events that gel to form a plot, the latter revolve around the characters that gel to form a plot, with the primary elements of both acting as the supportive vehicle of the other in comparison. Poetry may present characters, may present plots, but more often than not, presents isolated elements of existence, in which the reader must dive into in the hopes of discovering his or her own context within the words laid out before them. Words, words, words, Hamlet said, for how else is there to define that which he was reading, or the meaning behind them? Centuries later, after the language’s greatest composer repeated that one word three times, an AM-radio-oriented pop group named the Bee-Gees shed light on the question: It’s only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away. More than any other literary genre, poetry, or its sister genre, musical lyrics, are words and nothing more, yet there is more meaning in those words on a metaphysical level than any other form of literature there is. Poetry is weird like that.

To a modern audience, say the last generation or two, song lyrics have usurped classical poetry as the ultimate genre of the human’s parallel universe. Progressive rock in particular offers a menu of abstruse poetry spread out over neo-classical musical arrangements, Moog synthesizers standing in where orchestras once fit the bill. Pink Floyd in particular drew a line in the sand between music as a vehicle for dancing and a vehicle for sitting down and taking in the substance of what they were talking about. It is no coincidence that Dark Side Of The Moon spent an unprecedented fifteen years on Billboard’s Top-200 chart. Here was an album that set out to demonstrate that everyday life can be a tool for madness, an album that laid out the dangerous consequences of the human mind and conscience becoming too chummy with each other. Time may fly when you’re having fun, but it also makes you older, shorter of breath, and one day closer to death. A few years later, a bi-gender group named Fleetwood Mac drove themselves into a state of madness by ignoring the notion that they could be artists and lovers at the same time. Art is born in the mind, love is born in the conscience. Art is born as an individual inclination, a concrete personal decision; love is an emotion, a devotion to another, and emotions are slaves to the conscience, which are not concrete. A devotion to another, especially one to which whom one shares their mind, never mind their heart, is a proposition doomed to risk. But it made for great entertainment, because we love dichotomies as humans. We get off on dissension. Poetry brings us closer to that dissension than any other form of literature, and so it will survive, be it in journals or music or whatever. The vehicle for its delivery may not always be satisfactory, but the words will serve their purpose.

06 22 15



Philosophers you make of ev’ryone
in fluttered aviations over scores
of connotations.  Like a setting sun,
a soul attached to you implores
a single morning at a time.  A flock
of you in unison congests a chance
of visitations on a friendly clock
and talks reunions into games of trance.
The essence of a synchronicity
between a soul and body hides behind
a bamboo screen.  From there felicity
injects a flight of angel wings into the mind.

Will you beknight my footing with the sky,
and tuck me in a rainbow, butterfly?

(Probably the worst sonnet I’ve ever written, but the first one I’ve posted here simply because it’s my most recent.  It was inspired by the role of butterflies in Japanese culture, where they are closely linked to souls, either those that are alive and well in association with a living body, or with one who’s passed on. They are also the subject of superstitions, dependent on the number that travel together.  It’s said that if one visit’s one’s home and hides behind a bamboo screen, it is the soul of a lost love or relative making a visit.  If a large group visits, it’s believed to be a bad omen.  This was written for a friend who suffers from a disorder that also carries the butterfly as its symbol, and was put together fairly quickly, hence my jaded feelings towards it.  I will likely attempt to improve upon it at some point.)

06 11 15


The car is dead.
Arrange a ticket out
before the rearrangement of
physicalities incline to take on
the rhetoric that passes
for how we communicate.

It’s not a new story,
it’s a revelation,
beaten out of silence
now that the complacence of denial
has been jarred awake by freedom
gone that suffered to be gained.

In one bed lay the rebel one
who’s told not to retort with
attitude, though attitude
blocks out all visage
of a question mark in what
the current voice implicates.

From the couch I have to call
my bed, I think I could defend one
or the other, and map out
a power balance for myself.
But, as the shy, submissive, fearful one,
a stand from me incurs the role of ingrate.

I used to turn to grandparents
for the calming element,
the equilibrium in light of what some parents
signature their disposition with.
They call it tough love, the catapult to heist
you over their contrite social standing.

The tragedy is not deciphered
in the blinding light of nature’s death beacon,
it is in the sight restored to the
emotional monopoly of those who live
with the embodiment of a mistake
and claim to be the experts on its handling.

The nurturing returns ad nauseum
to balance out berating, but it never
ceases to return beneath apologetic hints.
And after many years I’m weary
from the system of forgiveness under
corresponding loaded tongue.

The cost of freedom
sent me back into this ‘Wilde’ gaol,
where all love each other but are not prevented
from not liking them, and so
they’re driven on to hurting when they’re puzzled
by the lack of harmony.

I wait now for one to acknowledge that
this tank is empty, and the body work
no longer will conceal a dead engine.
As the quiet fearful one,
it won’t be me.

(An older piece, from 2004, when things were not so good)

07 30 04


A matutine illumination looms                                                                                                 uncharted in a pocket of your smile

Hovering audaciously around your lips’
emphatic lockdown on exuberance
with my limp paper crowbar
of practicing charisma
I stutter out a campaign against
an appetite of happiness sequestered
by the existential bread and water
of contentment

Your gum line must be
a palette of congealed contexts
as the passages of my pedestrian
existence spill from me like water
from a greasy bucket

Sentiments and intimations slap
the Easter Island stoicism of your residence
in General Emotional Delivery
like a jaded gypsy ostracized
and dispatched to domestication’s
evil empire

I just happen to be hunting for
an empress to oscillate a measure of
significance and chip away the stale air
I breathe like a lonely archaeologist

The treasury of your idyllic mouth
must hide a holy grail of a grin

Riches shine the brightest when held
to the purpose of a compliment’s guiding light

(c) Steven Fortune 2015