What is a poem?

(From the forthcoming “The Poems of Edwin Plant”)

What is a poem?

He said “What, then? Should I write you a poem?”

And she said “What is a poem?”

And though it was not his nature or his practice, he wrote.

He chased words through his mind

And pinned them to paper with the nib of his pen.

He spoke the words to her in nervous apprehension.

And she laughed.

“Moon, spoon, june!” she laughed.

“Is this love? Is this a poem?”

And he went away and chewed his pen.

He wrote in a fury, in a blaze, in desperation.

He wrote without thought, without pause, without punctuation.

He brought before her his soul laid out in ink.

His love for her as it flowed from his heart through his pen to the page.

And she laughed.

“Language evolved for apes to tell each other where the best fruit grows.

Is this love? Is this a poem?”

He went away again and looked.

He watched the sun rise and set.

He watched butterflies amongst the flowers.

He looked at rare orchids and traced their gentle colours and curves in paint.

He rode ships across the oceans and climbed mountains.

He returned to her and laid at her feet:

Paintings, flowers, photographs and deeds of ownership.

She sniffed.

“Is this love? Is this a poem?”

Ashamed and downcast,

He walked away.

Down the street where she lived.

Through crowds that melted before him.

Shadows in the misery.

Until light sparkled from a shop window.

He returned to her.

“I have brought you a poem.”

He said.

He went down on one knee and brought out a ring.

The diamond flared in the light.

It glowed, it gleamed, it glimmered.

It snared her heart and told her stories she could not hear.

“Is this” he asked “a poem?”



Two years later.

She left him for a singer.

3 responses to “What is a poem?

  1. Perfect. And the ending- was NOT expecting that. What do you think? IS it a poem? For me it was sort of both story and poem — that questions the meaning of both ‘story’ AND ‘poem’.

    • Thanks. Poetry is always a question to me, and I’m much fonder of narrative in all things – songs, stories, poems, plays. Anything that says “This is not a story, just an exploration of the moment, a character study, and expression of emotion”…That loses me early on. Tell me the story!

  2. Pingback: Another play completed | Damian Trasler's Secret Blog - Do Not Read!

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