I've had a busy week so I was glad of the prompt which enabled me to post an old poem from my files. If it is a poem. What makes a prose poem?
I don't think I can answer this, but I believe that it is not really a question that is specific to prose poetry. The question "is it a poem?" is the same question whether it is a piece of writing that has rhyme and metre, or has line breaks, some sort of metre but no rhyme, or whether it is set out in prose (or any variant in between these).
Is it poetry, verse or a jingle?
Is it poetry, or a political statement with line breaks?
Is it poetry or just a rather strange piece of prose?
I don't know.
The first time I found out there was such a thing as a "prose poem" was at the first every poetry workshop I attended. I was browsing a collection of poetry books that were available for our inspiration, and came across the work of Charles Simic. His prose poems are delightfully surreal. I hope you might consider exploring them. In the meantime, here is my own contribution:
Six Blind Men and an Elephant
This is a joke my children used to tell. They would pick some unsuspecting person and ask “I’ve got a riddle for you. What is the difference between an elephant and a hammerfor?” They were just waiting for the question “What’s a hammerfor?” and then they could say “Banging nails in”. We know this joke pretty well by now, so the other day when my daughter asked “what’s a hammerfor?” I said “Banging nails in” almost without thinking and then she asked “what’s a metaphor?” Of course the thing about a metaphor is that it’s really only useful if we know both the things being compared. So I might say for instance that a book is a magic carpet that takes us to other worlds. You know, and I know, dozens of ways that a book is not at all like a magic carpet and that’s why we can appreciate the point of the comparison. And then there’s the old story about six blind men and an elephant. One of them felt the trunk and said it was like a snake. Another had a hold of the tail. “An elephant is very much like a rope” he said. A third, grasping the leg, declared that the elephant was like a tree. And so on. But anyone who hasn’t seen an elephant is left with the image of a snake in a tree which has a rope hanging from one branch, which really doesn’t help much at all. So when I learnt that atoms have nuclei with orbiting electrons, I thought of planetary systems and believed I knew what was going on. Then I learnt that light is particles, called photons, which made some sort of sense, until I learnt about light waves. So which is it, particles or waves? Both, and neither, depending on the mathematics, and that’s when physics started to get confusing. Somewhere around Stage 2 I was completely lost, which is to say, I could do the maths and come up with the right answers, but I just couldn’t picture it any more. That was pretty scary, because up till then I thought I could get a handle on just about anything. And somewhere in the years between then and now, the physicists stopped talking about waves and particles and started talking about tiny strings curled up in about ten or thirteen directions. Now, when I think of Einstein saying “God does not play dice with the universe”, all I can picture is God playing Cat’s Cradle.