The Ships That Sail Within: An Automatic Poem

By Adam J. Pearson

An automatic poem is an uncensored poem. Automatic poems are not thought out carefully. No careful attention is put into word choice or structure. Instead, we simply write. We just pour words out on the page, keep our fingers moving, and whatever pops into our head, we put down. Sometimes as we do this, we see pictures; we put these down too. They get woven into the poem. The poem is not procedural; it is automatic. And that means it happens right away, like a reflex. Here is an automatic poem I wrote in this way. It may feel raw and rough around the edges; this is natural, for it is edited. Often, the lines that reveal themselves to us through this process are mostly muddy and unclear. But every once in a while, a glittering gem appears amongst the mudslide, an insight or image a value. And it is this rare gem that makes the process worthwhile.


The Ships That Sail Within

Flash of the light snake

Tracing trails through the sky

He courses through galaxies as dust clouds fly by,

Twisting and drifting and melting into faces,

Endless eyes upon eyes,

Staring and staring,

The endless pupils

Seeing though unseen.

Wide are the mouths of those who speak,

 But empty are their minds.

For much the say and little, understand.

Oh, have you seen the great cathedrals of the jungle,

Where primates dance among the branches,

And the drama of life and death plays outI

in prey and predator?

Thus are the days of our lives,

The journeys of our beings,

The nights of our lamentation,

The mornings of our struggles

 Evolutions and devolutions,
And everywhere a sea of change,
Transformation upon transformation,
Never stagnating–

Stability itself is order within chaos,

Chaos within order,

Thus, the unfolding, the spreading out of being through states and dimensions

Transforming all, becoming all, the One becoming the Many,

The Many, but the dancing and waltzing of the One.

Thus is the cosmic play in which we are embedded,

The pronouncement of wordless thought unconceived,

And all as if a vanishing phantasm,

In a vast, indifferent mirror,
A great display that seems eternal,
But in an instant,
It is gone.

Surely all we see are but reflections,

Our judgments of others are condemnations of ourselves,

We attack in others what we cannot face within,

For the caverns of our interiority are littered with ghosts and shipwrecks,

And splintered masts lie among drooping sails of dreams and aspirations,

And how short we fall of our ideals and how often.

And oh, the storming tempests, the raging hurricanes of emotion,

Rise up within this cavern
Springing forth

Like hateful flames from the mouth of an angered dragon,

Each feeling is a Rorschach blot,

Signifying nothing, yet meaning everything,

Each thought is a riddle,

Each glimpse of inner understanding
Is a glimmer of light
That casts endless shadows of ignorance.

Oh, consciousness flashes within the inner cave

Like a flickering candle in the darkness,

Casting light on little,

A tiny dot of illumination
In a vast expanse of shadow,

Such is our ‘insight’

Such is our ‘introspection’

Each effort is a push of Sisyphus

Futile and all in vain–

Or is it?

Is there something to be gained from inward struggles,

Inward pushes on and movements forth
And impassioned efforts to understand?

To see within, to pierce the shadow?

From each trip, we may bring back a single gem,

But with it, we are richer

By a single gem.

And so, amidst the shipwrecks within,

The fallen forms of efforts failed,
And endless mistakes made,

We sail on, again.

With a new ship in the inner sea,

A new flame

In the darkness.


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