I Dreamed a Burning Man (A Prose Poem)

I have wanted to share this poem for months now. It is perhaps the best poem I have ever written. It is a real personal poem inspired by my dreams (the prompt was to write a dream poem.) I share it today because I this piece has already been rejected by two different poetry magazines (though I am not giving up!) I would love some feedback so that I can better this poem and maybe get it published– please don’t hold back! It is a prose poem. Enjoy.

Always Keep Fighting (AKF)


I Dreamed a Buring Man by J.E. Skye

It is happening again— always the same. I am speeding, no we are speeding, down a winding road of the experiences of the past blurring into nothingness as it passes me by. Something in the air is just out of reach. I see a man with jet black hair, hunched over shoulders, and the shape of his face— so familiar. I can see his blood begin to boil, anxiety rising reaching every inch of his existence. He begins to burn inside the fire reaching his skin. The burning man grasping for breath, losing the battle with oxygen, and the numbness creeping in. First in his hands— consuming then moving and ever overwhelming every inch of his reality. I exist just outside the pain looking into a fast moving… something. Is that me? Even outside his existence, I feel his agony.

The burning man speeds down the snaking winding road and grips the wheel in hopes to steady himself— to steady the past blurring past him. Exhaustion wipes over his face as looks at me, and I begin to reach out to help this man. A car starts to take focus, first with my eyes and then appearing the moment I thought it into being. Horror washes over me as something invisible keeps me trapped in place— just outside the speeding vehicle. I can reach but not touch the man. We move like a cheetah down this unfamiliar twisting road that seems so familiar. The burning man writhes in pain unable to stop, the world blurs into darkness all around us.

It takes every part of me to make the words escape my mouth. “You must stop this,” I yell at the burning man. “Breathe, you must.” He inhales air filling his lungs to capacity, releasing slowly. Everything all around slows, slowly at first. With his every breathe the blurry images passing us by beginning to take shape. They are memories of a black-haired man with a beard like steel wires trying to steady a jet-black car as he tries to control his breathing.

My eyes and face begin to take shape all around me, and a storm begins to brew on the horizon as the burning man finds himself. Control. He looks at me, and I gasp in amazement. My face. My body. My life. The man reaches out to grip my hand into his, and we become one. I see clearly. We have been here before. The memories of the past and the storm— the uncertain future. I grip the wheel, and with my right hand, I push the car into gear. Ready for the storm ahead.

Photo Credit:Antony Xia

24 Replies to “I Dreamed a Burning Man (A Prose Poem)”

    1. Thanks For the feedback. The rejections are let always because the poem is bad. It just doesn’t fit the magazine. It would be nice to get this piece published. It really is the best poem I have ever written.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. It seems more prose to me, not so much poem. The first person direct address to the reader make it seem less a poem too. I do, however, think it has strong poetic imagery in the details, but that is as much a story element as. Poetic. If I had written it, I would either use it as a short short, make it a part of an article, or make it’s imagery work in a longer story as theme for character development.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. I see this more as a short story too than a poem.
        I have no criticism in what you have written, as I love this, but I do not feel it is a poem, but more a short story, or something on a basis you can create in a longer story.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Writing a story beginning to end can be difficult. Creativity can be stifled and replaces by mundane story mechanics. Sure, you are better able to get the mechanics right, but at the risk of losing spontaneity.

        I find that taking a piece of poetic prose like this, or several, and weaving a story around it can force the writer to go beyond mere mechanics. It forces the writer to engage with his or her own subconscious to solve the problem of how things that come from their subconscious should be engaged with, woven together, or expounded upon to reveal the story waiting deep in the creative psyche to be, not created, but revealed.

        Your subconscious has prodded you to create this piece. It already has the story brewing, waiting for you to discover it in an Apollonic rather than a Socratic guiding of psychic energy. Discovery, in my opinion, is superior to planning.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi James, you asked for a feedback and I´d hope, you´ll find something interesting in mine. So I´d like to tell you about my experience when reading your text:

    First I was irritated, because I was expecting something different, more a poem, not a story with a long text. So at first I was not sure, if I really want to read this. Although I had no idea of the content until then.
    Second, I guess I get your point but I don´t get into the story, into this place. The reason could be, that I am not a native-english speaker (I´m german), but for me it sounds more like a description, a list of situation.

    My feeling to your text is: It comes from your heart. No, more deeper: from your soul. I can read this through the lines. But the lines, at a technical view, don´t bring me there.

    Thank you for sharing this personl stuff and to open up for honest feedback. I know too well, this can be tough, when the feedback not is “love it”, “awesome” or something like this. Fingers crossed, that you´ll find a publisher for your personal text!


    1. It is actually a prose poem, a hybrid. It doesn’t have the traditional lines and it is supposed to be long form. It is a dream inspired poem so it is not to make sense. Either you get it or you don’t. Thank you for the feedback.


  3. I can’t comment on whether it’s a good poem or not because I am not qualified to do so. What I can say is that I found the piece stirred a great many emotions which, for me, is what good writing is all about. :O) x

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I started reading it for the title alone. Regarding the prose poem, I also felt more prose and less poem. But that didn’t mattered to me much, because I wanted to read about your dream. I don’t know when exactly you wrote it, but once I did something similar right after I woke up (can’t remember where I wrote it, but there’re few lines that I keep remembering). Did you actually see this? Does it repeat itself?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is one of my more vivid dreams. It changes a lot but the core is the same. It is much like my real life where my past seems to get the best of me. I don’t often remember my dreams but this one is the most familiar one lately.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi. At first, I wasn’t going to reply to this because I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea or not. I personally don’t like critiquing other people’s works unless I have to. I hope you don’t find any of my feedback offensive.

    For starters, I like the poem itself. I know you mentioned that it was something you dreamed. I think that’s excellent inspiration for a poem. I also understand what it means. I feel like this is a very powerful poem, and I understand why you’re proud of it. Some people commented that this is more prose than a poem. I read a previously published poem that was written just like this. The only difference is that it was more descriptive. In any case, you don’t have to change the form. I think it’s fine as it is.

    What might be messing it up is the grammar and punctuation. Even ‘burning’ is misspelled in the title. Little errors like this can get any work rejected fast. Certain words are overused, and you switch back and forth between present tense and past tense. Also, be careful of using pronouns like “we”. As I was reading, I thought I was being addressed. Then, I realized you were referring to yourself and the burning man.

    Some sentences are worded awkwardly. For example, you said, “A car starts to take focus, first with my eyes and then appearing the moment I thought it into being.” It would make more sense if you said: “A car materializes before my eyes, appearing as I think it into existence.” Something like that. You don’t have to word it exactly like that, but be wary of how it sounds.

    I’m not sure if you submitted it exactly like this, but if you did, then I suggest carefully looking over this piece to check for errors. And before writing anything, always decide what tense you want to write in and be consistent. I used to have a lot of trouble with this too. In fact, I still do.

    But don’t give up! Don’t stop at just two publishers. Keep finding more publishers to submit this to. I know how discouraging it can be to get rejected. I wish you the best of luck! 🙂


    1. Thank you for this, I will take it all into consideration. I didn’t notice the small errors and I will redo some work on it this weekend.


      1. I wasn’t. They were good points and it a very good prose poem. I will work on it more and maybe I can get it published. I have been through a lot of constructive criticism as an undergrad student.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. It is a prose poem. My teacher, who is a known poet, believes it is and she was really great for my poetry writing. I have only written maybe 15 poems in my lifetime. I am still working on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hay James.
    I love and read a lot of poetry all the time, to me it’s a nice poem, I can see the tail unfold as I read it and I get it. I don’t think I’ve heard the term ” prose poem ” but that doesn’t matter to me I still think it’s a nice peace of work.
    Good luck with it.


    Liked by 1 person

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