A Breakdown of Poetry

First: “What is a poem?” We slam down technical answers of stanzas, line breaks, rhymes. We slide in the expectation of length, no more than a couple pages, though we let the epics have their own subcategory. Then: “What is a prose poem?” We throw seizures. Our neat box of technicalities is blown apart by sentences, by blocks of black scratches, by words filing into the next line without break or enjambments. We put our arms akimbo and huff it is only a prose poem instead of short fiction if it has poetic language. Finally: “What is poetic language?” Language is made up of words. Words are compromised of letters. Are some letters more poetic than others? The “o” has more soul because it sounds like a mother lamenting her son lost at sea. Letters represent the sounds we make to form words. Words represent the physical and metaphysical for the purpose of communication. Words are tools and with use acquire smooth planes and deep gouges. Subsequent use can mold a word from a needle to a nail. Like a word, a poem is a tool. A poem communicates meaning, expresses feeling, represents movement. Like the English language, we have many poem dialects. Do not ask me what a poem is and expect me to tell you how it will look on the page or sound in your ear. Expect a poem.