Thursday, September 21, 2006

Rare Prose-Poem

Back when I was still editor of The Melic Review I frowned on prose-poems and relegated them to flash fiction.

The thing below started off as a poem but fell more naturally into prose, I thought. It approaches the density of a poem without incurring a poem's difficulties. Comments welcome. This is fresh off the griddle, btw, always a mistake to expose so early, or so I tell students.

Sensing Trees

A redwood’s autumn is not as dramatic as that of a deciduous if you prefer color to sound--which brings to mind the old question of whether it’s better to be deaf or blind. Blind is the answer a wise man gave me. Does that mean communication is more vital than safety?

The redwoods ply the edge of an expanding continent like an icebreaker. When wind strikes their spent fronds fall like missiles pelleting the roof, each a lost church whose needles are pews.

Dead fronds lace my deck like fish skeletons gone rust, rigid millipedes whose legs are needles. Though acidic and hard to mulch, the needles are members in good standing and never desert the frond. Remember the blind vs. deaf question? Would you rather hear or see the redwoods? Easy one. What about your mother?

Rodent Neutral,



  1. Anonymous8:04 PM PDT

    The only thing standing between this half-chewed cud and good poetry is a little work (which would include the elimination of all those instances of "whose").

  2. I'm usually not a fan of prose poetry, but I think this is successful (in terms of what I expect a poem to do). I love the closing. The final question felt at first as if the answer should be instantly apparent to me; yet that moment gave way to utter indecision. It's a tough one.

  3. This is a good idea! You ahve traveled quite a journey!

  4. Anonymous--your criticism is duly noted. I thought "whose legs are needles," etc., would accomplish anaphora, but obviously it grated on you.

    Jarod, the implication I sought was an infant and a mother, but I took the denotation out--where the sounds and touch of a mother trumped sight, or so I imagined.


Please share your opinion!

Unexpected Light

Unexpected Light
Selected Poems and Love Poems 1998-2008 ON SALE NOW!