Preface to my third poetry collection, Sentimental Drift

20770232_101824963878023_1786108752079961059_nPoetry 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.

Steven Fortune

06 22 15

( Learn more about/order Sentimental Drift: )


Darling doctor
the metabolism of this starving artist
demands irony
I lack a certain chill
that can reinforce my affinity
for Winter
Thankfully there is a mouth
in my ever-patient vicinity
frothing with the femininity
required to restore my faith
in the season of the sheets
No longer
does the crystallization of
my creativity scold the June humidity
hard enough for its cigarette burns
stamped like insignia of spite
on my chemicals
I want my love of Winter reinforced
by the chill I’m sure your lips would leave
like a parting gift
on the fever of my reeling eruption
Darling doctor
wooer of Winter
and feeler of fevers
If you need my temperature
it’s in your mouth
not mine
where the accuracy of my mercury
would be most telling
I’m glad you’re wearing white
not the wedding white that conceals honeymoons
but a white that conceals slow reflexes

01 16 13


We’re dying young

The bottom rung

propelled a leap

that couldn’t keep

a launch afloat

A wasted vote

is all we got

for service fees

that bruised our knees

We’re giving up

this empty cup

of promises

You’re ominous

the way you bought

the common plot

of legacies

in history’s

consensus book

The way you took

all of the things

tomorrow brings

to dead men’s sons

Your poison runs

like liquid guns

all through the courts

and low resorts



You pin us down

beneath your crown

content to hoard

the Earth’s reward

reserved for us

The school bus

of life you stole

to pad the hole

we dig for you

The final screw

of your estate

will be to plate

your history

of gluttony

in ozone pelts

as Eden melts

No other flood

No rain of blood

It’s hit-and-run

You had your fun

and left us here

to reap the fear

of mercy spent

We can’t repent

You bore us in

to Planet Sin

We’re dying young

We’re getting strung

out on your cures

The cost insures

your children will

attain no skill

in fathoming

the reckoning

But that’s all right

There comes a fright

for one that laughs

at epitaphs

addressed to us

and how the fuss

about the rot

of Camelot

falls at our feet

We can’t compete

with toppled odds

and moral frauds

and ends of days

and power plays

at our expense

The worst offense

is the intense

appraisal of

our brand of love

as scandalous

and handle us

with a respect

that would have wrecked

the proudest soul

with vitriol

and rendered it

no longer fit

to persevere

and to endear

us to the Fates

It aggravates

us to the core

We’re cut before

we had a chance

to fly and dance

in hopeful air

Our spools are bare

You left the core

of your rapport

with villainy

for us to see

and ponder on

the doom upon

our weary race

It matters not

to your old lot

You lived for then

and now the pen

of our today

will scratch away

your signature

the overture

of our revenge

A stony henge

your legacy

We look and see

and bitterly

imagine why

we even try

to read the past

to help us last

The death of trust

has got us fussed

and fit to rant

because we can’t

arouse a chant

You’ll never grant

us leadership

It’s time to strip

us of your kind

You’ll be resigned

to epilogues

the faulty cogs

undoing time

and then this rhyme

so keep your salt

It’s all your fault


03 12 19


There is a time to live and a time
to write. I never know for certain which zone
is piloting my watch, for the ink I serenade
the reader with so often simulates the blood
of a donor, extracted and injected in another.
My pen relays a needle’s aspiration to alleviate.

What manner of donation would come around to alleviate
me in instances of soul lacerations? In the time
I’ve spent juggling contexts of hobby and career, another
literary connoisseur’s adulation built a zone
of satisfied security around me, the blood
of poetry a chorus in a periodic serenade.

But my satisfaction hobbled; a missing cog in this serenade
cycle meant the process never did alleviate
my innermost deficiencies in full. The clotted blood
of loneliness numbed a sense of growth in proportion to time.
So redundantly generic had the zone
of platonic consolation become, enforced by one after another.

Then a sympathetic slingshot of circumstance swung me from another
to the one. Every syllable she uttered metamorphosed to a serenade
in my ears; every footstep she unfurled shot a zone
of color ’round our monochrome surroundings. Her morning eyes would alleviate
the nightmare diseases infecting my replenishment time
like propaganda legions shaming hearts with corrupted blood.

At times it feels like our respective reservoirs of blood
pump in a harmonic synergy of pulse. Never has another
spared a wish in me to bottle or at least freeze time,
allowing me to savor every serenade
we trade in times of melody, and mark the moments we alleviate
the curses of our ragged psyches, banishing them to the forgotten zone.

Her mind is my erogenous zone
of choice. Her voice is the anthology of tides summoning my blood
to the arid shores of untapped potential, to alleviate
the brooding silence of another
unfulfilled day with a benign siren’s serenade,
infusing the recycled death of sleep with living conscious time.

Never in my zone of written art will another
bleed the blood of inspiration, left to freely seep into each serenade
where identity has now been planted to alleviate the weeds of nondescript time.

(From my book Unspoken Overheard.  Info: )


Fairweather condolences I file
for the weeping bell
A robotic capacity to process hell

Married to reaction, no relation
to the message
Over apathy the automatic media

For the dialect abated
it is fated
to be hated
more than melody is loved

Who would believe I was a novel lass
not the novelty
the wraiths of femininity and jealousy
in one

deduced in her reaction’s signature
vindictive flair
that my charisma, innocently served, must be

The measure of seduction
covets suction
of its substance
from a loopy ruling stick

I never was a hot anomaly
among the clique
whose feet appeared to plant the flowers we accrued
to court

the keeper of a throb without a heart
We were all donors
to a cause existing only for our charity’s

How sadistic if my friends
subscribed to omens
searing my ends
and extinguishing my means

Godly gift of gab, I undermined you
with modesty
The waves you could have made I quelled in urgency
to blend

Charisma could have been my cue to shun
the team approach
I would have got to him and left them with the fortune to

Curse my indecision
this incision
in my mission
to be loved for who I am

Randy gods are wont to follow flowers
with a prick to pluck
when their domestic petals shrivel into flytrap

Out to find him out, she found me dialed in
to puppy love
arousing the romantic plague her vitriol

Now her puppet strings are fastened
to my vocals
and the locals
shun my salutations, saying nothing

The man I sought belonged to nobody
and everyone
Sentiments she must have used to vilify
her god

Begrudgingly I siphon sympathy
from this arrangement
as I ponder all the hearts on which my futile man
has trod

In the end we all were doomed
to be an equal
Not a sequel
lived to compliment his tale

But as irony would have it
I’m the one to live
with banality to give
to introductions under courtship’s open-ended veil

02 28 19