Most poets/ poetry lovers have probably had at least one discussion about what makes a poem a poem. Some people talk about rhyme. Or meter, or the tendencies toward a certain type of language (metaphor, simile, flowery description). These things can be in poems, but they don’t have to be. In the end, it’s a poem because it’s a poem. You just know.

I wrote a prose poem,  because I hadn’t done so in a while, but I quickly reshaped it into free verse, which is my current preferred style. My writing style has, as friends have told me, way too many commas. Someone referred to it ‘as if I’d thrown a comma confetti party on the page.’

That sounds festive, right?

Ok, maybe it’s a problem. A disease. Comma-itis, which is related to Parenthetical Syndrome. The wonderful thing about poetry is that the line breaks denote a pause or emphasis, just like my beloved commas do. So I don’t even need them! I’m cured!

I've often pictured inspiration as one of the hyperactive squirrels you see--aggressive and a little stupid and often confused. Image from WikiMedia by Gerardo Noriega.

I’ve often pictured inspiration as one of the hyperactive squirrels you see–aggressive and a little stupid and often confused.
Image from WikiMedia by Gerardo Noriega.

*   *   *    *    *    *   *

Crazy, with Punctuation!

You drive me crazy. I chase–you run away. I pretend indifference–you draw closer, but remain out of reach. You taunt me–run through my dreams, flicker at the edges of my thoughts. I only want to catch you, bash you over the head, string your viscera into sentences, dissect you into neat paragraphs, trim and shine your taxidermied form. You’d be a little flatter than the others running wild in my mind, but no one can read you there. And, besides–you drive me crazy.

*   *   *    *    *    *   *

You Drive Me Crazy

I chase

you run away

I pretend indifference

you draw closer

but remain out of reach

You taunt me

run through my dreams

flicker at the edges

of my thoughts

I only want to catch you

bash you over the head

string your viscera into sentences

dissect you into neat paragraphs

trim and shine your taxidermied form

You’d be a little flatter

than the others running wild

in my mind

but no one can read you there

and besides

you drive me crazy

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About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

3 responses »

  1. J says:

    Good morning. I think I suffer from Parenthetical Syndrome, although I’ve managed to steer fairly clear or Comma-itis. I’ve had those conversations you’re talking about, most of which end with, “Well, it’s not really poetry if it doesn’t rhyme.” Oh well. Where did you work on your MA?

    • caitlinstern says:

      I’m pretty sure they both fall under Tangential Tendencies, or maybe Digression Disorders.
      People can be narrow-minded, but really, what divides poetry from other writing doesn’t make sense. So the defining process either makes sense to you, or it doesn’t. Does that make sense?

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