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  A LITERARY JOURNAL DEVOTED ENTIRELY TO THE PROSE POEM  
 
    RECENT EXAMPLES    

Here are four examples published recently — these alone say most of what needs to be said about what a prose poem "is" in this century. We are grateful for the permission to reprint them here:


  Brenda Hillman Janet Kaplan Brooke Horvath Chad Davidson  

 
   


Brenda Hillman
White Fir Description

   
    —14 cones at the top with meso-tight rings of fitted pods, boy bronzes rising somewhat

—The usual turkey-foot top but with toes splayed 43°, 47°, 49°

—At no place does the sun show through more politeness than 8- inch rhombuses criss-crossed with daggerdowns, & the "wrestle" "with my heart" side

—Each needle an inch-and-a-half more profuse toward manzanita than near Meeks Bay more profane toward sound of scrub jay stopping then doubling

—Changeoid quiver-cripple wind starts up & lets you record: how often you fought a fear, half-panic laced with ennui as

—Blond oxygen hovers over the tree, in the direness of safety—an ethics that would want to want the other to get better
   
     

 

 

 
 
Janet Kaplan

Little Theory
 
 

A machine named Universe knew about itself what it knew at present, nothing more. Away it skipped, blowing bubbles and careful not to step on Father's clock.

 
     
 
     

 

 

    Chad Davidson
Refinishing
   
   

Wood has no future. It saves all scratches. At twenty-three I helped a woman sand her table down to grain. I touched every inch of that table, used a belt-sander but took the corners by hand, not wanting to burn through. I had it clean in days, then set to clearcoating. I could count my years in its surface as the tiny histories of the people who had eaten there vanished.

When we lie together at night and I'm asleep, do I ever run my fingers down your back? I have the sensation sometimes of running underneath the skin, like a splinter.

   
         

 

 

    Brooke Horvath
Definition
   
   

A prose poem should be square as a Picasso pear, or paragraphed like that same pear halved, then halved and halved again — free as air, palpable as an air crash and as final, yet somehow not all there.

A prose poem should be neither short nor long and somewhere between a snort and song. It should be dense and chaotic as a World Series crowd, yet open and orderly as the game being watched. It should be loud as the nameless lost are loud, quiet as a mugger in moonlight, magical as the maniac's ghostly knife, mundane as the victim when finally found. A prose poem should be shocking as the unspeakable when spoken is shocking — and as familiar.

Its feet all thumbs but with every line justified, marginal because it knows where the margins are, intimate with disinheritance, the prose poem's job is to follow its nose, accepting all comers, admitting defeat.

The porcine prose poem speaks: "waste not, want not" and "learn to live on garbage and in mud" it tells us straightforwardly when it stops you in a crooked street to hand you a slippery pearl, a bitter sweet.

In Streetcar Named Desire, the prose poem plays Stella. And BIanche. And Stanley. In My Fair Lady, Eliza Doolittle: make of me what you will, it says; make me and I'll make you, it thinks.

For all its history and intellect, a few dirty secrets and neglect. For love, the French.

Not equal to or better than or worse; neither prose nor verse; perhaps not for you or me.

The prose poem should not be defined but let be.

 

   
     

 


  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS  
 

"White Fir Description" © Brenda Hillman. Reprinted with permission of the author. Appeared in Pieces of Air in the Epic (Wesleyan 2005) and in An Introduction to the Prose Poem (Firewheel Editions 2009). All rights reserved.

"Little Theory" © Janet Kaplan. Reprinted with permission of the author. Appeared in An Introduction to the Prose Poem (Firewheel Editions 2009). All rights reserved.

"Refinishing" © Chad Davidson. Reprinted with permission of the author. Appeared in An Introduction to the Prose Poem (Firewheel Editions 2009). All rights reserved.

"Definition" © Brooke Horvath. Reprinted with permission of the author. Appeared in An Introduction to the Prose Poem (Firewheel Editions 2009). All rights reserved.

 
     



   

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