Is This a Poem?

I am writing this poem
not to convey any specific interior state,
nor to relate a specific experience.
I don’t plan on utilizing any lush imagery.
I don’t intend to display
any verbal acrobatics or dexterity.

I haven’t decided yet
if I even want this to be read as a poem.
It could be read as any number of things.

A dissertation.
A pamphlet.
A road map.

I could perhaps tell you that this is a picture
and rather than using color and brush strokes,
I use the symbols we ordinarily associate
with our language. Meaning,
this isn’t intended to be read at all,
but gazed at from a distance
and admired for its visual qualities,
the shapes of the symbols
and the order they appear in.

I wouldn’t do that of course.
I was merely speculating.

What if I told you
that this is a musical composition
arranged to be sung by a single voice
in a flat monotone?

That could also easily be the case, but again,
I’m merely speculating.

So what is it exactly
that makes this a poem?
Is it the fact that I referenced this as a poem?
Is that even sufficient?
So what if I say that a rock is a poem?
Or a tree? Or a city skyline at sunset?
Or two people arguing in a crowded restaurant?
Are these poems?

Or is it the fact that this piece of writing
is composed of phrases broken up
according to a number of factors,
including but not limited to:
rhythm, meter, the way they guide the eye
and by that token affect the action of the mind?
But I could’ve left the phrases intact
and let them run their natural course as in prose,
and it still would be a poem.

So what is it that makes this a poem?
What about you, the reader?
Is it you who makes this what it is?
Are you reading this as a poem?
Well, are you?
Are you… ?

4 thoughts on “Is This a Poem?

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