Prose poetry is in style these days. It’s true. The cutting-edge journals are publishing it, the traditional journals are publishing it, and even the boring ones are publishing it. So, it’s no wonder that a good many poets are writing it.
But, not every poet is doing it well. In fact, I rarely come across a prose poem I like. The lack of form seems lazy and bulky to me, and I miss the premeditation implied by well-placed line breaks.
Yesterday, though, I came across a prose poem that gripped me from the beginning and carried me all the way through to its spirited end. It appeared in Rattle Magazine and is by relatively new poet Kathleen Diane Nolan. Its words sit below.
Mars and Venus
so one night I was walking up Madison after the rain and this homeless man was sitting on the sidewalk sobbing so I got him soup and a sandwich and that didn’t seem like enough so I got a brownie too and when I told the cashier it’s for the guy outside she gave me a cup of coffee light and sweet I brought the food and the coffee to the guy and he said don’t think I’m going to thank you and I said I don’t care if you thank me and he said, bullshit, you do yes you do truth he asked if I was from Mars or Venus because I looked intergalactic baby and what do you do up there all day anyway he wanted to know and no way was I saying social work so I said I was a poet and he said he was a poet too he told me to sit and I did even though the pavement was wet and everything smelled like shit and sour milk then we watched the skyline crossing the stars for a long time and he said Venus this is not how things are supposed to be and I said yes I know and he said no you don’t you do not then he told me to remember three things always we are all transparent with no skin or bones diamonds come from ashes and hair of the dead hope is the thing with claws not feathers he told me to put all of this in a poem and not to walk near Madison and 38th Street ever again this is my corner he said
Photo credit: “Venus and Mars” by Sandro Botticelli