What makes them poems is that they are self-contained, and once you read one you have to go back and start reading it again. That’s what a poem does.
Charles Simic said the above in regards to his own collection, The World Doesn’t End, which consists of a series of prose poems. I love how true this idea rings – that a poem – sonnet, lyric, or prose poem – exists as a self-contained experience.
However one may feel about prose poems – and there be much controversy even these days – one cannot deny the poetry of something that fits the above.
I mean, there are things that people have said to me in passing that fit these parameters, those parts of conversation you find yourself quoting later, either to others or to yourself.
Makes me think of that George Harrison line: If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there…
In the poem below, Russell Edson goes a few unexpected places.
The Fall – Russell Edson
There was a man who found two leaves and came indoors holding them out saying to his parents that he was a tree.
To which they said the go into the yard and do not grow in the living-room as your roots may ruin the carpet.
He said I was fooling I am not a tree and he dropped his leaves.
But his parents said look it is fall.
p.s. Newstand Alert: check out my poem “Reading Hunger” published in the current issue of Gulf Coast! Info on this issue here.
* photo found here.