In 1995, at nineteen years old, my life was guided by a continual need to question authority and structure. The disassembly of scaffolding of self was often manifested into forms of societal rebellion. As a young writer and poet in high school, I was accustomed to writing in set rhyme scheme and meter. My favorites were and still are, works written in the Romantic and Victorian periods of English literature- moving from the wild to the tame.
In 1994, a creative writing class at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) was being taught by a renowned local poet, Michael Fallon. He was somewhat of a sensation and seemed like the guy to cozy-up to if one wished to grow as a poet... Why waste time? I had little desire to learn from academics with no real-world experience, so I vied for a seat, as a freshman, in his hugely popular class.
Fallon ripped me apart after the first week of class when I brought one of my sonnets in for him to read, "This is antiquated writing, nobody writes this way in contemporary poetry... rhyming, hmm. You have to get rid of the rhyming." I was devastated. I was a rhyming machine and damn proud. My ego was smashed to bits and at first, I thought Michael Fallon was a jerk. I mean, he didn't like my poetry? What the Hell was wrong with that guy? But I sucked it up and thought that maybe, just maybe he knew what he was talking about.
I started writing with no rhymes. Fallon told us, and I've never forgotten, that a single line of poetry must stand alone as its own poem. Meaning, that in the few words that comprise a single line, the words must be descriptive enough that it causes the reader's senses to ignite, without any other lines to support it. Glancing back over assignments marked by Fallon, I still think he was a bit harsh and too fond of succinctness. Everything had to have a point and flowery language was not tolerated; however, his lessons helped me grow and learn to be more bold, stepping out of imprisoned form and embracing the free.
After leaving UMBC, I moved back to New Jersey and my parents found me a little condo in Smithville. It was my first experience living alone and the Internet was a fantastic new way to gather information, including the Magic Mushroom Grower's Guide. So, I ordered psilocybe cubensis spores from a place in Washington state called Psylocybe Fanaticus and after several weeks, played guinea pig and tried them.
They were good. And while journeying with myself one day in 1995, I decided to write in a stream of consciousness and here's the result. I'm not sure Michael Fallon would like it, the words are too chaotic for his taste, but he'd definitely dig it a lot more than my sonnets and iambs:
Ask me can you feel the pain
shadows across the wall flightless in my outside into my conditional wipeout of dreams and reality gushing with the secrets of life's endless battle of wits and to which I am is no more isolation into the darkness of solitude binding hearts to souls in the seductive sensation of hope and wisdom allocating thoughtfulness every-other-day time and punctuality are not allowable partners in this relationship time is of the essence and ethical standards remain hostage to other people's inquiries into what life is truly about giving into the game of rules of the establishment forgoes and leaves us to guess in endless mind trances into the canker sores of life's twisted design for truly freedom rings its bell in the cracking embraces of the feeling misery incorporates dividing truth from a bunch of desolate desires and ambitions giving into the threshold of puzzle parts that the greatest artist in the world could not put back together again if destiny conducted assessments of each and every one of a hieroglyphic anecdote of symbolism and incongruities that would like to end its time amongst the white plains of the flower trees and apple blossoms in springtime amidst a retreat of the conscious and a festival of the senses delighted by the frequent sounds of laughter and weightlessness of the everything...
p.s. I still love writing poetry in form and find the discipline to be an art. It is much more difficult to write a line of descriptive, metered poetry than it is to write in free form. After having a discussion with a friend, we agreed that poetry is supposed to make sense of the chaotic, wild world, not add to it.
Photo by Katrina Mayo