I know a lot of poets are against “prefacing” work, but I (sometimes) disagree. I love hearing and talking about the process of writing poetry, how something was inspired, etc… sometimes in preface to a poem. Poems aren’t just these mysterious bunnies that pop out of hats worn by special magicians called Poets who have The Gift. Anyone can really write poetry if they learn about it and practice, try exercises and challenges, and truly enjoy words.

Some random words and phrases from this were circling through my head for days before I sat down to do a flash poem. Sometimes when a lot of very insistent phrases go through my head demanding attention, I know it is time for a pantoum. This is a form that’s very suitable to obsessive or ruminating thoughts, because the repetition generates new meanings and often helps to get the thoughts out of that “loop” into a “eureka” shift at the end. This is another example of the healing power of poetry, especially in a mental health context. I think certain poetic forms have powers to subtly reprogram the brain (writing or reading them) and disrupt language patterns, help in processing trauma, etc. Words are incredible neuroplasticity tools! That’s a huge subject for another day, however.

Pantoums usually have a pretty clear rhyme scheme, but I got funky with it here. I used a kind of shifting assonance at the end of each line instead of traditional rhymes… because I got into a mood of more relentless repetition and things flowing together and overly strict adherence to form was getting in the way of that. Another thing I love doing with forms like villanelles and pantoums that have repeating lines, is to scramble the order of things around, and occasionally mess with the rhythm to create dramatic pauses or run-on lines. It’s unorthodox, but fun and it changes up the meaning to create drama. 

The last word is an example of some of the amazing Happy Little Accidents that happen when I’m writing. In this case, an autocorrect of “drain” COMPLETELY changed the meaning of the poem in a way that was just too dope to fix. The poem, however, is not full of happy little clouds and I am not the Bob Ross of poetry.




I’ve stuck my hand down the drain.
Reached around the spinning blades.
Pulled things out from the grime
the likes you’ve never seen.

I’ve reached around the spinning blades
and seen my face shining in them
like you’ve never seen
before. The bones. The eyes:

I’ve seen my face shining
in them. You will listen to me,
before the bones and eyes
that cower in the hollows in between.

You will listen to me in them.
I’m an angel among demons—
cowering in the hollows in between,
just beginning to waken.

I’m an angel among demons
and a demon among angels.
I’ve just begun to waken.
I’ve stuck my hand down the dream.

© Psyche Marks 2019


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