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  • By Benjamin Lukey

How I Got This Way & Visitation

How I Got This Way

Uneasy in the company of friends,

I felt no better sitting by myself;

Improving means had not improved the ends.

So I took Walden from my bedside shelf,

And on page nine, I nodded off at last—

And dreaming, met the spirit of Thoreau.

The specter spread his arms and cried,


Oh, why so seeming fast but deadly slow?

You lead a life of quiet desperation—

But if you look about you, you will find

Pasture enough for your imagination!

Go out, and try to hear what’s in the wind!”

So I awoke, wrapped in a reverie,

And went to seek the things I could not see.


An unfamiliar sound disturbed my sleep—

And as I drew the curtains from my brain,

I there beheld a sight to make one weep:

The orphaned thought of some forgotten pain.

I knew her cherub face, but though I tried,

I could not couple it with any name.

And when I bade her speak, she only cried;

I felt her grief, but knew not whence it came.

Then nameless woe gave way to formless Fear—

I said to it, “If God has banished you

Once from my mind, you are not welcome here.

In His name, leave me now!”

It turned and flew

On wings of unaccountable despair,

With horns protruding from its golden hair.

Benjamin Daniel Lukey lives in Monroe, North Carolina.  He teaches high school English classes whenever he is not fishing or writing poetry.  His work has previously appeared in The Road Not Taken, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Torrid Literature Journal, and other publications. More of his poems can be found at



Mar 27

This incredible poem reminds me of the Lorenz Hart-Richard Rodgers song "It Never Entered My Mind", memorably sung by Frank Sinatra, which is the highest praise I can think of.


Feb 25

Readers must ask--how did the poet know

The crying babe grew horns, but not Thoreau?

Though I'll admit my wiser days are past

I'd never trust a ghost that cries "Avast!"


Feb 23

I love poems with striking, well-crafted lines, and these two sonnets have more than their share of them. Fine work, Benjamin.

Feb 23
Replying to

Very well put, David. I totally agree with that. It's wonderful to note that the advice in Keats's 'Ode', (on truth and beauty) is never too far from your thoughts.

And yes, the best poets are always great philosophers, because they can rise above mundane situations and offer us some transcendent glimpse of what others can't see - as indeed Daniel Leach did in his last poem, which I was very taken with.


Feb 23

Both of these sonnets are quite good, indeed. I really like your use of personification and imagined dialogue in "Visitation," and concur fully with Cindy's comments about its language. "How I Got This Way" is also deeply insightful, a paean to "Walden." And I think the inverted octave-sestet structure is a unique feature, and perhaps reflective of the poem's subject.


Cindy Erlandson
Cindy Erlandson
Feb 22

These are both extremely impressive! Lines like "As I drew the curtains from my brain," and "The orphaned thought of some forgotten pain", are quite profound, as are the meaningful final couplet of "How I Got This Way", and the conclusion of the well-told story in "Visitation."

Feb 23
Replying to

I agree and will comment above.

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