“It is with words as with sunbeams—the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.” ~ Robert Southey

I haven’t come across a prose poem in a while that really grabbed me . . .

[I believe there is a song that is stranger than wind . . .]

By Karen Volkman

I believe there is a song that is stranger than wind, that sips the scald
from the telling, toss, toss. In the room I move in, a wrecked boy listened
to each sky’s erasing, for it was shrill winter, for it was blast and blur.
For it was farther from the native birds and the gray heath heather and
the uncaressable thighs of the one who shook in violet. Those who fly
farthest must always burn the nest. But the mind in its implacable spec-
trum dims to brown. Must you die on your back like a cheap engine, rust
and wrack? In the crevicing days, there are no words for prizing, be-
tween the lidless moon and the silver hands of the fountain. But if it is
space you must fail in, teach it din.


For those of you who may not be familiar with this poetic form, the prose poem is written like prose, without the poetic line breaks, but it still contains many of the same poetic devices, such as figures of speech, alliteration, assonance, repetition, and rhyme. The length of a prose poem varies a great deal, and the subject matter is not limited in any way, with topics including love, nature, war, etc.

According to poets.org, the form “is most often traced to nineteenth-century French symbolists writers. The advent of the form in the work of Aloysius Bertrand and Charles Baudelaire marked a significant departure from the strict separation between the genres of prose and poetry at the time.”

I have written a couple of prose poems, and it’s hard to say what causes a poem to fit into this category. I can only tell you that I knew innately that what I was writing was a prose poem.

My favorite prose poem is “The story of a day in the life of a woman trying,” which I would have put here, but my copy of it is packed away in a box somewhere.

More later. Peace.


2 thoughts on ““It is with words as with sunbeams—the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.” ~ Robert Southey

  1. I tend to think I kinda, sorta, in a way
    write this sorta prose poem
    the sorta thing that just sorta flows
    and lets me wander and not worry about such
    superficialities like syntax and sense
    and gets me into trouble with folks who say
    it isn’t really poetry
    it’s just stream of consciousness
    or maybe I’m just rambling along
    the way I sorta do
    when that’s what I’m sorta doing


    or not…

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