I wrote a few lines one morning while opening the shop and have yet to decide how I feel about them.

Strands of gold flow from a head filled
with semi-precious stuff.

Does she herself glow or reflect the sun?
One cannot say in summer,

but fly back this winter and let us see
if she will yet embody spring.

Here is not the radiance of show
but the gentle warmth that catches when you fall.

I’m not sure what I’d title this or who it’s even about. I saw a lovely blonde walking down the street who reminded me of a girl I’ve had a vague sort of almost-crush on.

Now, a couple of weeks later, I reread it with no feeling of crushing on anyone, just missing my small niece who is all light and magic. Then again, I am heavily biased in her favor.

At any rate, there are four questions that — if all answered — prove a thing to be a poem in my opinion.

1 — Open or Shut?

What form, if any, does this poem take? It appears split in four equal sections of two lines each, or (in academic speak) four couplets. To have a definable form such as this gives it a a shut/closed/fixed form. One out of four questions answered.

2 — Who is the Speaker and Who is the Audience?

The use of pronouns in this poems is predominantly 2nd-person (you) with not a 1st-person pronoun (I/me/ours/etc.) in sight. This could be an authority figure speaking to the audience if read by on person to another, or — as when read by one person to themselves — a sense of self-talk focusing the reader’s attention on considering the perspective of the poem as their own so that they must decide how much of the poem aligns with their general view of things. Two out of four questions answered.

3 — What kind of a thing is it?

Does this piece tell a story (making it a narrative) or not (making it a lyric)? While a brief story surrounds the writing of the thing, the thing itself tells no story on its own, making it a lyric thing. Three out of four questions answered.

4 — What is this thing’s type?

What details of this thing reveal a little more about its nature (rhyming verse, blank verse, free verse) before even really diving deeper into its content? It can’t be a rhyming thing because there is no discernible rhyme scheme, and it cannot be blank verse because — though unrhymed — the lines are not written in iambic pentameter, so it must be free verse as that is the only option left to us. Four out of four questions answered makes this a confirmed poem.

But, wait, you may notice that my initial thought was that just asking these four questions of a thing makes it a poem. Wouldn’t that make anything and everything a poem?

Yes, it would. Why do you think we call this home of ours the universe?


Also published on Medium.


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