Poem with an explanation: the ship

So there’s this ship,
built over the years,
out on the water,
but still.

There isn’t an engine,
but even if there was,
there isn’t any fuel.

The wind isn’t blowing,
but it doesn’t matter,
there isn’t a sail.

The oars are moving,
but one goes forward,
the other back.

There’s a rumor,
of an island,
some place far off.

it isn’t a rumor,
everyone seems,
to know where it is.

They have directions,
and maps,
and claims of tug boats.

But they can’t help,
it’s hard to explain,
something about navigation.

there’s this ship,
and all around is water.

Water left,
and water right.

The captain stands,
on the deck,
and contemplates.

There’s lots of contemplation.

Plans are thought,
and written,
and sometimes,
just sometimes,
the oars move together.

But still,
there’s only water,
just water.

It’s strange,
everyone else,
seems to have found land.

But there’s the captain,
on the ship,
looking out,
and seeing water.

There’s a moment,
there’s aren’t words for it,
but the captain has a feeling,
and just stops,
and sits on the deck.

And there on the water,
the ship is still.


This poem is about a person whose life isn’t the way they want it to be.  Everything in the person’s life is not where they want.  Their job, their health, their abilities, their relationships, their experiences, their home, their everything.  It’s not that the person has something very bad in their life, it’s just that their life isn’t where they want, and they don’t seem to be getting any closer to what they want.

The poem starts out with a ship.  The ship is a metaphor for how the person travels on the journey of their life.  It is in some way the expression of their effort.  It is the way they hope to move forward.  It also is symbolic of their life.  The captain of the ship is the person, but the ship is also a metaphor for them.

The poem starts off in a little bit of a flippant way.  It says, So there’s this ship.  It’s almost like someone is telling a story in a bar.  It’s an introduction that glosses over an entire back story.

The poem has two tones.  One is somewhat ironic.  It has a sense of humor, in a way, over negative things.  This tone is reflective of the person in the poem.  The person at times can laugh at their situation.

The other tone is more somber and expresses an empathy for the person in the poem.  This is the tone of someone who sees the person and understands what they are going through.  The two tones are mixed in the poem.

The ship was built over the years.  This expresses everything the person has done to get to this point.  The person’s state in life is described as out on the water, but still.  The person is living their life, but they aren’t going anywhere.

The next three stanzas talk about how the person isn’t moving forward in life.  The first of the three stanzas starts with the greatest propulsion – an engine.  It says the ship doesn’t have one.  This means that the person is lacking a variety of big things that might make them move forward in life.  It might be education or skills or connections or something.  The person is lacking something that would really get them going.

The irony of this though, is that even if the person had an engine, they don’t have any fuel.  This is meant to say, that even if the person had something that might move them forward in life, that they are lacking something still that would help them use it.

This isn’t meant as a condemnation of the person, it is just stating a reality.

The next stanza of the three expresses a similar but slightly different idea.  The wind is some sort of outside help.  This is something, like a third party helping the person, that is separate from the person, but would help them move forward in life.  The person is lacking this as well.

The irony again though, is that even if the person had this thing, they don’t have the means to utilize it.  Even, for example, if the person had a personal connection that might get them a better job, they don’t have the social skills or knowledge to utilize the connection.

The last of the three stanzas continues the similar theme.  The means has degraded from an engine, to wind and sails, and at this point to oars.  Again, the person isn’t able to utilize what they have.  They have oars, but they use them in opposite directions and they don’t go anywhere.

In the next stanza, there is a thought about where the person wants to be.  This state in their life is describe as an island.  It’s some place they want to land their ship.  As the person hasn’t achieved this state, the knowledge of it is described as a rumor and it’s some place far off.

This personal knowledge is contrasted in the next stanza by the knowledge of others.  While the person has only a sense of what they want to achieve, others around them seem to be clearer on it.  Everyone seems to know exactly what the person needs to make their life better.  In a way, this stanza pokes at the advice the person gets.

The next stanza is saying that people claim to know how the person can achieve their goals and even offer help.

The following stanza though, says that these directions and offers aren’t helpful to the person.  The person’s life is such that advice isn’t helpful.  It might be that the advice is bad, or the person has heard it before, or the person can’t use it, or something.  The idea though, is that it isn’t helping.

The next stanza gets away from an outside view and goes back to an inside one.  It comes back to the ship itself.  It restates its condition.

The following stanza emphasizes it.

After this, the reflection moves from the ship to the captain.  It describes the captain as contemplating.  This means that the person is thinking about their life.

Following stanza says that the person thinks a lot.

The next stanza says that the person thinks and plans and sometimes moves a little forward in life.

The next stanza is saying though that this isn’t really doing anything.

In the following stanza, the person in the poem thinks it’s strange that seemingly everyone else seems to have achieved the things in life that they struggle for.

The stanza after this gets away from this temporary outside view and goes back to the person and their state in life.

In the next stanza, the person feels defeated and just overwhelmed with things.  They just have a moment where they just sort of stop.  It feels, if not devastating, just too much.

The last stanza summarizes the person’s life.  They just aren’t going anywhere.

Poetry topic idea: illusion

Today’s poetry topic idea is illusion.  Some ways this idea could be used in poetry include poems about:

  • Magic tricks that involve illusions.

  • A person acting one way, but really being or feeling another (ex. They seemed happy, but it was an illusion).

  • Some sort of misdirection (ex. The safe was empty, and the money was in a box marked ‘junk’).

  • Some sort of misconception (ex. A person was under an illusion about a situation).

Experimental Poetry Form: three rectangles

This experimental poetry form is about the visual appearance on the page.  It is called three rectangles.  The poem consists of three rectangles of words: one rectangle, with another rectangle inside, with another rectangle inside of that.  The poem is meant to be read starting at the top left corner of the first rectangle and going around it, and then starting at the top left corner of the second rectangle and going around it, and then starting at the top left corner of the third rectangle and going around it.  The letters in the words follow the direction noted above.  Also words do not carry over from one rectangle to another (such that there is the start of a word in one rectangle and the end in the next).

The main difficulty in the form is getting things laid out.  Although there are different ways of doing this, it might depend on the software being used. Of course, it could also be done on a piece of paper by hand.

Here is an example poem written in the form:

It’s strange to write a poem that mov
s         rolling down a hill.  It take
k               It just goes aroun       s        a
c                                            d                n
o              .                                     s        d
r         .    g                            a      o
          s   n                            n      m        t
e        w   o                          d       e        w
k        o    l                                               i
i         l    a                            a      t          s
l         f      seog tsuj tI .dnuor    i          t
,                                                   m         s
e        ti yaw eht dnatsrednu ot e
l                                                               a
m                                                            n
uj a evah ot smees tI  .nur ot smees d


Here is the same poem written as a paragraph:

It’s strange to write a poem that moves and twists and seems to run.  It seems to have a jumble, like rocks rolling down a hill.  It takes some time to understand the way it flows.  It just goes around and around.  It just goes along.

A Milestone: 800th blog post

This is the 800th blog post on M. Sakran’s blog of and about poetry and poetry related things.  The first post was on April 24, 2014.

800 posts is a lot.  It feels like a lot.

There has been a lot on this blog.  There have been poems, poems with explanations, poetry topic ideas, experimental poetry forms, artwork to inspire poetry, photographs to inspire poetry and bilingual poems among other things.  There’s often a sense with each post to have something a little different from what has been there before.  Hopefully there was a sense of having something at least a little new with each post.

There is hope that everyone who has read something on this blog has enjoyed it.  Hopefully you were entertained or thought or were inspired or learned something.  Hopefully something was gained from it.

Thinking back on the posts, it’s hard to say what it all adds up to.  800 posts is a lot to think back on.  There is a sense, that there is something in the totality of it all, as if it were a novel or something, but whatever that something is, it’s hard to describe.

Thank you to anyone who has in any way interacted with this blog.

If you’d like to show your support for the blog, please consider purchasing a copy of the eBook, Understanding: poems with explanations.

As a side note, there is a new set of photography, artwork, poetry and fiction on MSakran.com.  The short story in the set examines an interesting philosophical idea: What would it be like to communicate with an entity, if you couldn’t be certain if that entity was a person or a computer?  The idea could be used to inspire poetry.

Again, thank you to everyone who’s interacted with this blog.

Poetry topic idea: transition of roles

Today’s poetry topic idea is about the transition of roles.  Think of the transition from being a student to a teacher, or an interviewee to an interviewer, or a child to a parent.  There are many instances in life when people are in one role in a type of situation, and later on, they are in the opposite role.  The idea of the poetry topic idea is to examine the different roles and the relationship between them.  A poet could write about:

  • Transitioning from one role to another (e.g. the poet could write about being a student in a class and then, at some later time, being a teacher in a class)

  • The perspective of on role of another (e.g. a poet could write about how an interviewee (the one getting interviewed) views an interviewer (the one interviewing))

  • The reflection of someone in a later role on what someone in the previous role is feeling (e.g. a poet could write about how a parent views their child from the perspective of how they themselves were as a child and how this reflection informs how they feel)

  • A detachment of the someone in a later role to someone in a previous role (e.g. a poet could write about a teacher who has forgotten what it was like to be a student and does things that students in the class don’t like, that they themselves wouldn’t have liked, such as giving an assignment over a break period)

Poem with an explanation: A dark celebration

There are celebrations,
celebrations on the mountain peak,
of the glowing warmth,
and dances in the wildflower fields.

But this is false,
for there behind the mountain peak,
the wings of dread do spread,
and the flight of darkness soars.

But in the fields,
all is joy,
as butterflies fly,
from bloom to bloom.

But the edges darken,
from red to black,
and the swallowing of all,

It all seems joy,
as arms twirl about,
and all the warm,
fills the land.

But tears do fall,
from knowing eyes,
for they do know,
the fire dims.

The cheers of joy,
for what is high,
not seeing that,
today it falls.


This poem is about the summer solstice.  It might depend on where a person lives, but the summer solstice could start late tonight.  Tomorrow, will be the longest day of the year, in terms of sunlight.

The longest day of the year is often celebrated because it has the most light of any day of the year.  This poem takes a different perspective and looks at it as a day of dread.

It is a day of dread, because from this point on, until the winter solstice, every day will get shorter.  Since this is the peak, it is the start of the fall.  This day is the last day when light grows, and because of this, the poem takes the perspective that it is a day to be feared, rather than celebrated.

The poem alternates between celebration and dread.  The first stanza is one of celebration.  It describes the celebration of the longest day (the mountain peak), of all the sunshine (the glowing warmth) and talks of the celebration of nature (dances in the wildflower fields).

The next stanza starts the dread.  It uses a metaphor of a dragon.  It says that the celebrating is for something false.  It says that after the longest day (behind the mountain peak), something ominous is coming (the wings of dread do spread) and this ominous thing is the increasing darkness from this point until the winter solstice (the flight of darkness soars).

In the next stanza, there is an unawareness of this.  It is as if the people celebrating in the field, don’t see the shadow rise behind the mountain.  The stanza talks of joy, butterflies and blooms.

The following stanza goes back to the ominous idea.  It uses the imagery of darkness swallowing all.  Like a cloud of darkness starting at the horizons and covering the land.  It uses the image of “red to black” to play off the idea of a sunset.

In the field though, there is an unawareness.  The celebrations continue as people bask in the sunshine and dance about.

This is contrasted in the next stanza by a sense of sadness by those that know that a peak leads to a fall.  It is as if all are celebrating the fire at its highest, but there are some that know that the highest point means that it gets lower after that.

The last stanza puts the ideas together and says that the peak is celebrated, but that is because it isn’t seen as the start of the fall.

This poem consists of seven stanzas.  Each stanza is four lines long.  The first six stanzas alternate between happiness and dread.  The last stanza has both ideas together.

P. S. Did you enjoy this poem with an explanation? Did you know that M. Sakran has a self-published eBook of poems with explanations?  You can learn more about the book and purchase a copy from here: Understanding: poems with explanations.