Thursday, July 2, 2020

A Poem with No Breaks

Unlined poems from unlined minds with unlined faces—no, that’s unfair. Just look at poor Baudelaire. Beds left unmade for months look less crumpled and lined than that mind. If anything, prose poems are truly godlike, only approachable via negatives. It’s not just what a prose poem lacks that most poems have, but what utter lack keeps its text from being any other kind of prose, either, as if we had stripped prose of every identifying genre (gender, gene, kin, kind) and wound up with nothing to call the remains but a poem. Sans narrative, sans teeth, sans everything. “The prose poem drives the reading mind beyond the city limits.” Cute, Professor, but what’s that, then—the suburbs? Exurbs? Lessard’s “Atopia”? Seems about right for most prose poems, but hardly thrilling for a reader experiencing wanderlust. Well, ok, except for the fact that the reader isn’t even driving. It’s a kidnap. The reader’s being driven, all unwilling, somewhere to be stashed away or dumped unseen. Or perhaps it’s only maddening, simply maddening, the way the prose poem drives the reading mind beyond the limits. Hmm. Again, that seems about right. Well put, Professor, well played. Ah, behold, the poetry of atopia, the unmarked white van of the muse, the prose poem. Oh, enough already. Just get in.

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