Might This Instagram Post Be a Poem?

It felt like a poem when I wrote the words and so I will put it to the test.

The world being round, continents can only drift so far apart before they must drift back towards each other, and — however slowly that eventuality takes — the resulting reunion is more than enough to both build and topple mountains. What might we build and topple and build again if we followed suit?

These words were written in response to a wonderful poem by Chrysanthemum Tran and posted to Instagram here (linked in case you want to see the art that goes with it).

If the question “Is it a poem?” remains for you, here’s my prove-anything-is-a-poem test:

1 — Open or Shut?

What form is the poem? Instagram post. A recent beautiful documentary by Ariel Bissett has (Instagram) poets saying that mostly they just write a poem then post it hoping for the best without really writing specifically for the platform; but, in writing the above words and thinking about what to do with them, Instagram (and the tracing of Pangaea) made the most sense in terms of shaping the poem, so that’s its shut/fixed form, open as it is to interpretation.

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

There is only one pronoun in use, we, the 1st-person plural. So the speaker is a member of a group of which the intended audience. This is brought into focus after starting the poem from the viewpoint of considering the entire “world” and then its “continents” so that the group of which speaker and audience are both a part is “inhabitants” or “neighbors.”

3 — What kind of a thing is it?

So are we talking narrative (a poem that tells a story) or lyric (a poem evoking a moment or a feeling)? There is, for the bulk of the poem, the suggestion of a story as we follow the logic of continental drift, but we end on a question. Questions prompt us for answers, a thoughtful response, so we are left with a lyric in search of a narrative.

4 — What is this thing’s type?

Rhyming verse, no. Blank verse, no. All that’s left is free verse, very logical considering how quickly and freely it was written in response to another’s poem even as it leaves the door open for more responses.

Storied or not.

Also published on Medium.