A well-written prose poem combines the best of what prose and poetry have to offer-- the best of what is generally (but not exclusively) associated with each form. Associated with prose is the relative rigidity of the rules of grammar, syntax, and punctuation, as well as concepts such as narrative, character, plot, and setting. Poetry brings its poetic tropes such as personification, imagery, wordplay, aural qualities (susurration, assonance, consonance, alliteration), symbols, and most especially metaphor to the party. The result can be a moving, gorgeous work of art. Book critics seem to agree, sometimes describing particularly beautifully written prose as "pure poetry."
The above notwithstanding, that which separates poetic prose from prose poetry is not easy to define. For me, the distinction is made by the heart or the gut rather than by the brain. To paraphrase former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart (who was, ironically, ruling on what defines obscenity at the time), I know it when I read it. In this issue, you will find eight prose poems, including one of my own, that read like prose but ring like poetry. Enjoy!
Steven Wittenberg Gordon, MD
She was my country song. She made me a man and said nothing when I left her.
Every day we saw each other in the room. She was the best one in there. Eight hours of grueling rehearsal, barre, pointe, pliés deep into the scorching earth, rope burn toe turns and flights inside the moon. I’d see her slip away at lunch to go sneak a smoke. All of us would beat our bodies for hours, lifting, pushing, pulling, jamming our feet and hitting each mark. We’d listen and count to the same damn piece of music over and over and the yelling and the yelling and the clapping and the clapping and the “not right, start again”. The plea to have us pull our dumb beating hearts out of the cavities of our asses and leave them in the room. And I guess I couldn’t do that if we made eye contact. My heart went right to her.
We would say nothing to each other when we left the studio. We’d get in the car and drive out, 610, to 10, to county road 6 all the way to the reservoir. No one would be there except maybe an old Mexican man fishing. The short cut grass was flat for miles and miles. She’d take off her shoes, and we’d sit on the roof of my truck and watch the sun go down. She had the beauty of a fawn chasing a butterfly, of soft light hitting a drop of water on a spider web, of the crack of the break on the pool table in the bar toward which all turn their heads. She was all the money and all the bank robbers at the same time, the drink at the end of the day that washed it all away, all the safety and all the surprise of a superpower.
She would slap my chest when I made a silly joke, pull my face to hers to make sure I knew I was hers. She let me know she would kill me if I didn’t love her, she’d growl even, and then she’d laugh. So loud she’d look around and smile from embarrassment and bury her head in my neck. She kissed like the sun was going down for the last time. In one breath on my neck I remembered how we met on an airplane going across the world, everyone around us went to sleep, but we drank wine and whispered for thirteen hours. She told me she couldn’t be with me because of the company, but I called her over and kissed her in the middle of the street and said she was all I ever wanted. We secretly escaped a hurricane when it came through, stretching our weary yet invincible muscles on every back road from Brazos Bend to Austin. Each weekend we would drive two states away to her hometown and see our futures on the back porch, our children in the yard playing in the sprinkler.
She was my girl all in a moment as quick as lightning and as big as Texas. She was my country song. She made me a man and said nothing when I left her.
Editor-in-Chief Steven Wittenberg Gordon is pleased to announce that his poetic prose fantasy/horror short story "Metamorphoses" was published in the August 2019 issue of Tales from the Moonlit Path http://talesmoonlitpath.com/fiction/metamorphoses-by-steven-wittenberg-gordon/.
Our Assistant Editor Terri Lynn "Winter Is" Cummings will be taking the editorial lead for her first time for our "Autumn" themed issue due out in November 2019. Submissions for this issue are open now and will close on September 30, 2019. Fall is a beautiful season that immediately summons images of gorgeous colors, good times with family and friends, and the bounty of nature--but at the same time, feelings of loss, darkness, cold, and death lurk just below the surface. Terri looks forward to reading and Songs of Eretz looks forward to publishing your best.
The original paintings and drawings (and prints of them) created by our Art Editor Jason Artemus Gordon and used for the illustrations in Songs of Eretz Poetry Review are available for purchase with and without copies of the poems that inspired them. Please visit our "Artwork Store" page for details http://www.songsoferetz.com/p/art.html.