by Jack Peachum
Truth be told– I'm a crude soul-- unrefined–
Kentucky born and bred, rudely schooled–
versed in rural speech and country manners,
not well read– nothing of the classics,
nothing of the great world beyond my own eyes,
knowing little and forever guessing less
– then these trances come, I leave myself–
go into another person and read them,
swimming through the thick soup of life itself!
Here we have the body– for our own use
(supposedly, for that’s the theory),
– for pleasure, for dream, for transport, for sentience–
Death looms large in the imagination,
and flesh must suffer a variety of ailments–
disease, injury, cancer and dire famine,
not to say– blindness and suffocation–
– and, always, a thousand small physical pains–
though not so small as to go unnoticed!
Nor should we forget to mention accident
– who habitates far from cause and effect–
propinquity’s most unlovely stepchild!
And beyond all that– who is this person here,
this spirit dressed in fleshy clothes?
Where do we find the psyche, the engine,
the driver that makes this body live and move
in some realm of coexistence with God and Man?
I’ve visited the lungs and liver, the spleen,
swam the blood in all the veins, head to toe,
I’ve traveled through the intestines and out,
been one with nerve, cartilage and bone–
I’ve mapped the heart, viewed the ventricles, aorta,
looked out through the pupils of another’s eyes
– experienced both sets of genitals-
and, yes– even seen the brain while it was at work!
But yet– yet– I can tell you nothing!
My Presbyterian soul hungers for some sign
– an infinitesimal spark of divine light,
a quality that makes the essence of man immortal
– and I must confess– I have not found it!
No, I have not found a single sign of it!
Only once, whilst dreaming in the pineal,
I glimpsed a long parade of empty carts
that traveled quickly down the darkening centuries
to be filled by an unknown unseen hand.
Jack Peachum is a widely published poet, both on the internet & in print magazines. He lives in The Venable's House on The Venable's Lot, a haunted manse in southside Virginia, with wife Julia, a lovely bulldog named Eleanor, a cat named Scratch, and many many ghosts. He is the author of a volume of poetry, Polyamory, and a p.i. novel, Tempest, which takes place in D.C. during the Watergate era.
What do you think is the most important part of a historical fiction poem?
Since I write from the inside of a character, I think the most important part of the process is to find the person at that level-- this means locating an individual characteristic, either physical or psychological, through which the one speaking may reveal themselves.