Stream of Consciousness Poetry: Ideas, Impressions, and Thoughts

Image credit: “safe” – © 2007 Paul Keller – made available under Attribution 2.0 Generic

Make me safe and lock my heart,

hide it away where there lies the dark

where not even light shall taint or touch

where no lie can leave a mark.

I hid myself,

I kept myself

hidden from the world,

behind the frozen outer layer

of iron and bitterness, cold.

No matter how they beat and beat

the walls would never yield,

Yet somehow…



you broke the lock from the door.

You found the combination;

I was hidden away no more.

You pried apart the hinges,

and you sanded away the rust,

scraped free the key,

unbound the chains,

and threw it open for me to be


from myself,

and I never



In my opinion, there is nothing more powerful than the right image. It was that photo above that inspired this post. That decrepit safe brings to mind desolation and loneliness, but the open door implies escape, or else the idea that something escaped. Of course, I’m sure that it speaks to you differently; it is art, after all, and it connects to your individual experiences in a unique way.

A poem comes very close to a picture. Just like a picture, each word creates an image that is uniquely interpreted by the reader. For example, “unique”. What do you think of when you read that word? A scarlet rose in a field of daffodils? An original painting? An unusual sculpture? A hand-knit sweater? How about “museum”? What kind if idea does it give you? Try writing the ideas down; in other words, write down your train of thought.


You, my kind reader,  have just now written a “stream of consciousness” poem. A sort of mental map, if you will, showing how one idea triggers another…and then another…until soon you’re way off the original topic, like one of those puzzles where you try to change the word “summer” into “winter”  or something like that. Here’s a short example, using the word “bird”:

Bird; fly; the Great Backyard Bird Count; list; paper; bright; sunglasses; snow; cross-country skiing; snowfall; forest; downhill; falling; jumping; pool; friend’s house; airplane; Spanish lessons; candy.

“Snow”, “forest”, “jumping”, “pool”, and “fly” are all vague words, but “The Great Backyard Bird Count”, “cross-country skiing”, and “Spanish lessons” are all very specific. That kind of word in a stream of consciousness poem can add a touch of humor, and the more specific, the better. It’s like the difference between saying you’re  in Yellowstone National Park and giving exact the latitude and longitude of your location. What makes a stream of consciousness poem so fun is looking back to see how in the world you managed to switch from a textbook to Germany in a single poem.

And now I have just realized that my entire post has switched from writing about a safe to talking about stream of consciousness poetry! How appropriate… 😉



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