“Why Prose Poetry?”
When people ask, more thoughtless than not, Why prose poetry? I tell them, Just like basic Algebra, or at least addition and subtraction (and maybe multiplication—which is why we have Sex Ed) there are several solid “real world” applications for such. They balk, of course, and ask how I live off of lines that don’t even rhyme in a time of Dr. Seuss nostalgia and online sales of Beatles’ paraphernalia. Then, because I cannot prove to people who’ve never been moved by a d.a. levy musing, or made love to by a seriously hung sonnet, or cried to the truth of Sapphire in a barred window pane, that education for the sake of education is what separates the scholars from the downtown ballers-for-booze, I am bold as “Bump its” on ‘Shore Snookie. I offer:
Ransom Notes. Surely your average filthy rich parent has an appreciation and often pot-induced remembrance of “Howl” in a hard-hitting Contemporary Lit class—the one with the hot professor who never wore panties and always sat on the desk in front of the class, legs crossed like Sharon Stone when she wasn’t famous enough to wear lingerie in films. The spoken word feel of an appeal for a bank account’s bills must seem more real than the magazine cut-outs from the movies you see on Pay-Per-View (when you’d rather be watching porn.)
Baby Announcements. When you want to detract from the new arrival via your teenaged daughter and some oily guy she met while on vacation in Ocean City, or your “darling” tramp and your (criminal) ex boyfriend who, unfortunately, had a thing for truly younger girls and not just older ones acting a character in a Disney television show in their daughter’s mini skirts, prose poetry is the way to go. Imagine the lyrics to a sexually-charged, yet redundant, pop-song atop an electric blue (that won’t wash the baby out in the pastel wrap against the cheetah-print bra) background. You can even give the baby a symbol—like Prince— and then, if the baby turns out illiterate like its mysterious father (or “Maury” set of fathers), he or she will still be able to sign into rehab, alone.
Dear John letters. Think distraction, here. You don’t want to come off as the flaming bitch in your 100-word sign-off to your one time bed buddy via tweet or status update or emoticon-filled text; he or she might have attractive friends. With jobs. And after all, they were hot enough to make out with in the line at Starbucks (for the heterosexuals), or the check out at Pet Smart (for our lesbian friends), or at the meth party-come-“gym” (for our pretty boys.) This temporary temperature raising (even weeks ago) means you owe it to them to at least craft a lyrical let go…. Besides, these losers will love a “goodbye” akin to a Stevie Nicks song on change and moving on (add image of falling rocks, here).
Notes to your children’s teachers (when they’ve been suspended for cherry bombs in the public toilets, or sending naked pictures of themselves to the new music teacher, or hacking into the computer system to fail all the jocks for the weekly wedgies) can benefit from some poetic license, too. What teacher doesn’t appreciate a well-written note that uses punctuation correctly, then applauds their work with creative similes and metaphysical compliments? If the teacher happens to be an English teacher, this apology for your child’s lethargy or antipathy can, also, double as an extra credit assignment on the intricacies of rhythm and internal rhyme in contemporary American literature.
She sang, ‘The Future’s Not Ours to See…’
If it rains (or we get caught lying on our taxes, taxing our mothers or mothering our spouses), we expect it to unleash an umbrella-full of hail, and we are patients in the way that we undress to the sky, model soaked paper, bend over and expose all there is to know about our fears, inside. We wear galoshes humbly; we wear pleather precipitation hats made for ‘40’s musicals. We watch the torrents on a weather map bleep by, cry, know there will be an end, then make plans for Tahiti next month (with tissues) and buy a skimpy bathing suit with which to woo a new mate. Maybe we meet with our counselor and sigh for one hour. We do not learn: dukkha.
If it’s only cloudy, if there’s just a hint of humidity frizzing our hair and nothing has shown up on the haughty radar yet (we don’t know our boss has been checking our email, our identity’s been stolen, we’ve forgotten who we are), we put our eggs in a generic faith carton, instead, and carry on like we’ve never dropped one before, spilled a yolk, cost a chicken a fortune in fertility drugs and an ugly reputation for being yellow and “easy.” We rage, later, against what seems unfair in that shelled mess and ignore: “What will be, will be.” Silent is samsara.
Brittany Fonte holds an MFA in Creative Writing. She teaches at the university level and works as an assistant editor at Lowbrow Poetry Press. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in journals like Literary Mama, The Wrong Tree Review, Breadcrumb Scabs and Pemmican Journal; she recently published a chapbook with Silkworm Ink (UK). She can be reached at BKAPhilosophy@Hotmail.com for questions, comments, or intellectually stimulating coffee dates.