“Who among us has not dreamt, in moments of ambition, of the miracle of a poetic prose, musical without rhythm and rhyme, supple and staccato enough to adapt to the lyrical stirrings of the soul, the undulations of dreams, and sudden leaps of consciousness.”
― Charles Baudelaire
To me, most poetry used to invoke the image of an old woman snoring loudly in a rocking chair, while her ornery cat, Jemima, sits in her lap and her cup of tasteless tea rests beside her. Perhaps others rather like this idea, but personally, I would rather be an old barefooted woman who plows behind a team of oxen in the fields, makes poptarts for the neighbor’s children, and still drinks kombucha in her old age. But that’s just me.
However, my aforementioned idea of poetry changed when I met prose.
Prose poetry is all about storytelling. It is about characters and narrative and depicting something with the use of images and allegories. I think I am drawn to it because I tend to think in pictures and look for deep meanings in music, art, nature and writing. I am drawn to the fact that there aren’t a lot of guidelines to prose poetry; it ebbs and flows and doesn’t follow specific rules. In its simplest definition, “Prose poetry is poetry written in prose instead of using verse but preserving poetic qualities such as heightened imagery, parataxis and emotional effects.”1 There is such a rich, descriptive quality to prose poetry, which changes the world in which you are writing. It tells a story in imaginative terms.
“[Prose poetry is] an impossible amalgamation of lyric poetry, anecdote, fairy tale, allegory, joke, journal entry, and many other kinds of prose. Prose poems are the culinary equivalent of peasant dishes, like paella and gumbo, which bring together a great variety of ingredients and flavors, and which in the end, thanks to the art of the cook, somehow blend….[however] Prose poetry does not follow a recipe. The dishes it concocts are unpredictable and often vary from poem to poem.” 2
(And like some dishes, there is some prose poetry that is entirely unfit for human consumption. With that in mind, do take care of eggshells in your pancakes and chicken bones in your pot pie, when it comes to poetry, dear reader.)
Eggshells and chicken bones aside, my attempts to explore the vast and extensive world of prose poetry have culminated in writing some prose of my own. (Please stifle your amused grins) I am but a beginner and I ask for grace upon my meager scribbling. If you, oh reader, would like to share your poetic works, do not waste a moment. I would so love to hear from you. In fact, I may publish some of your works, if you so desire. Do drop a letter in my inbox….
Listen to the Night, by Sophia
I used to wake up when the moon was so bright it curdled the night sky. What it would be like to run through the galaxies and touch the stars, I wondered. What would it be like to run through the long, wet grass, trampling the sleeping crickets and feeling the wild wind? What would it be like to touch the dark film of night with all the quiet unseeing eyes watching me? What if the trees turned into rustling giants, who sang songs of the day, as their roots groaned with the agony of perpetual darkness. What if the frogs in the pond told stories of the summer nights and how it felt to be chased by little boys. I could climb out of the window and see and hear and feel all of this. I could, and yet, I didn’t. I could do it right here in my dreams.
– this prose poetry was written based on actual musings of a 12 or so year-old Fia, who used to stay awake at night, dreaming of what she could do, if she were brave enough. But she was always afraid of being eaten by a coyote, so she never ventured out on such an idea.
The Old Man, by Sophia
I called him ‘Mr. Fluffbaum’ because of the peaks of white hair that masked his eyes and swirled, untamed in the summer air. I would be washing dishes when I would see him walking his usual, erratic way, never minding the puddles, but walking straight through; all alone always. I would be washing the windows when I would see him again; this time admiring the golden flowers and green grass. I was sweeping floors when I saw him again. The wind was moaning and the rain was splattering against the clattering windows as if begging to be let in. I watched him moving slowly through the wind, the rain and the puddles. The rain matted down his hair over his eyes and the wind blew it wildly. He looked like a drowned rat, but he was owned by no man. It was if he didn’t belong to this world and thus, what did a little wind and rain mean to him? If there had been a hurricane, I don’t think it would have moved him.
He was an old man in appearance. He was a child in observation.
But in reality, he was only a chicken.
– this prose poetry was written in affectionate remembrance of an actual silkie chicken named Mr. Fluffbomb, who died peacefully (we hope) in the neighbor’s yard after drowning in a summer downpour.
[footnotes. 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prose_poetry. 2. Quote by Charles Simic: http://www.webdelsol.com/tpp/tpp5/tpp5_johnsonintro.html}