“This is not a poem,” the smart dressed man with the slide rule said
as we walked across a field full of gold bees nosily excavating pollen
from the bursting flowers. Clouds were casting long shadows over
distant hills. “I assure you this is a poem,” I said, plucking a blade
of grass and watching the brittle light eat away at its green interior.
“That is nonsense,” the young man said. His brow weighed down
by too much knowledge, and not enough pure intention. “This is
a sentence,” he said, “Where is the line?” “The line is here,” I said.
“It is just a different kind of line.” At that moment, birds began to
sing and the two of us began to meditate on some deep remembered
past, bird-songs rising, and falling, and circling back to the hidden
sources we draw our lives from. “There is no such thing as a prose
lyric” the middle-aging young man said, measuring with his slide rule
a nearby branch to see if he could calculate, in syllables, its corporeal
existence. “Poetry is abundance,” I told him. “Listen to the river and
the birds and the wind. In that plenitude, that fullness, even Time
is suspended.” “There is no river, no birds, no wind, and no trees,”
the man said, touching his fingers to the scarred bark of a large tree.
“That is partly true,” I said,“These are only innuendoes”. Mistakenly
he thought I was making fun of him, and not to be outdone, the man
stomped the ground and said, “All is prosody”. “All is paraphrase”, I
calmly reminded him. “But there are no line breaks,” he said. “But
there are line continuums” I repeated. Finally, becoming a little testy
he stammered, “Nothing is happening here!” “Ah, but poetry makes
nothing happen,” I said quoting Auden back to him which is when
he grew silent, started to mutter to himself, and taking his slide rule
in hand, fell to the ground and began to measure each blade of grass.
By Chris Banks