Poem with an explanation: hidden away

Four years passed
purposefully hidden

  away.

The sight
not using it

    with darkness filling.

  Today
passing by

    the vault.

Stay.

 

This poem is about coping with death.  In the poem, a person in a family has died.  The family, after the death, kept the person’s room just as it was when they were alive.  They have kept the room closed and do not open it.

In the poem, the person has been dead for four years (Four years passed).  During that time, the person’s family has kept the person’s room closed (hidden away).  This was done with intention (purposefully).

The family had a fear, that if they looked at the room, that it would somehow change.  This change was perceived to mean that something of the person would be lost.  There was the idea that if they looked at the room (The sight), that it would somehow use the sight of the room up and that the memory of the person would be lost (with darkness filling).

This idea is almost like the notion that taking something fragile out of a protected case causes it to deteriorate some.  It can only be looked at so many times before it is gone.

Another analogy might be the idea that smelling a scent somehow uses up the scent.  The thing can only be smelled so many times before the scent of it will be gone.

In the poem, the family sometimes has times when they pass the room (Today passing by) which is sealed like a vault (the vault).

When they pass by, they have the overwhelming sense that the room needs to stay the way it is (Stay).  Again is the idea, that if the room changes, the person will be lost.

In terms of form, this poem used the Experimental Poetry Form: Twenty Words.

Poem: 37 lines

So the moon and sun,
and the spinning of the earth,
and here’s today,
with thirty seven.
There’s glimpses,
and glimmers,
and maybe,
and hope.
Off in the distance,
the trees are growing,
but here though,
out in the ocean,
almost a raft.
This isn’t the day,
but looking on,
it does feel strange,
to be at this point.
This isn’t the day,
but somehow,
the morning is seen.
In the positive,
there are positives,
in the negative,
it’s so far away.
Today though,
and for the seven,
there’s not doing,
there’s not focusing.
Today though,
and for the seven,
there is happiness.
Wrapped in the box,
with the card and cake,
with the show and sights,
and bright balloons.
Today,
there is happiness.

Poetry topic idea: scent

Today’s poetry topic idea is scent.  Scent makes a very good poetry topic idea because of the ways scents are described.

In some way, scents are described either by definition or indirectly.  What do pancakes smell like for example?  The “by definition” answer would be that pancakes smell like pancakes.  The thing itself defines its scent.  The “indirect” answer would be to say that pancakes smell warm, sweet, buttery, like breakfast, relaxing, and familiar.  They can be described by senses and other things.

These ways of describing something are very useful for poetry. 

A poet can describe something with itself (e.g. a lily has the scent of a lily).  This circular type of description can be poetic.

Alternatively, and even more useful, a poet can describe something indirectly.  A poet might write about fresh cut grass.  They could use many descriptive words such as fresh, green, spring, summer, earth, nature, dew, pollen, chlorophyll, light, and fields.  A poet could write about the scent, and get the idea across, without ever stating what the scent is.

Here are some scents you might try to use in poetry as ideas.  The scent of:

  • A person’s perfume or cologne. This scent can be familiar, heavy, light, good, bad, and many other things.  Depending on what a poet wants, many ideas could be explored.
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  • Breakfast. A poet could write about familiarity, the different foods, and the mingling of scents.
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  • A hospital. A poet could write about the scent of sterilization and disinfectant.  They could write about the scents associated with illness.
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  • Dogs. Some ideas might be the scent of a puppy or the scent of a wet dog.  Another idea would be to focus on the sense of smell of a dog.
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  • Cookies. Cookies can be a very familiar scent.  The scent of fresh baked cookies is even an idea in society.  Different types of cookies have different scents.  A poet could write about different types and use the scents to explore ideas.

Experimental Poetry Form: Twenty words

This experimental poetry form is called twenty words.  As the name implies, it has twenty words.  In addition to that, there are other form requirements.  Those requirements pertain to number of stanzas, lines per stanza, line indentions, line breaks and rhyming.  The idea was to add to the simple notion of a twenty word poem.

The structure is as follows:

A three word line
A two word line
A line break
A one word line, that is a rhyming word, indented two spaces
A line break
A two word line
A three word line
A line break
A three word line, indented four spaces
A line break
A one word line, that is a rhyming word, indented two spaces
A two word line
A line break
A two word line, indented four spaces
A line break
A one word line, that is a rhyming word.

Here is an example poem written in the form:

The clock ticks
seconds pass

  flowing.

Each moment
moves ever onward.

    Birds fly away

  knowing
time passes

    onward never

slowing.

Poetry essay: Turning a story into a poem and turning a poem into a story

If you’ve read the poems with explanations on this blog, you may have noticed that some of them tell a story.  They present a scene or some event in a metaphorical way.  The idea, in some of the cases, was to add emotion and a different sense of expression to the description of a scene.

In the poems with explanations, generally speaking, the poem was written concurrently as the story was thought of.  Both were worked out together and then the explanation was written.  This is not however the only way to approach this idea.

A writer could write a story and then turn it into a poem, or they could write a poem and turn it into a story.  There are different reasons this might be done.

If a writer were turning a story into a poem, they might do it to have a shorter expression.  A story might be many pages, where as a poem might only be many lines.

Also, they may want to highlight just the most impactful moments of the story.  In a poem, a writer doesn’t have to have all that goes into setting up a story.  They can pick just a part and just show what they want, without having a traditional beginning, middle and end or various other story elements.

Additionally, a writer may want to express a story metaphorically.  Maybe the story has an emotional impact.  A writer might want to get that impact across in a less direct way or in a way that heightens the impact with the use of metaphor.

A writer could also have reasons to turn a poem into a story.

Maybe a writer thought of a very good scene and wrote it out as a poem.  They might at some point want to expand upon this scene and have a full story.

Additionally, it could be that a writer liked the idea of adding elements to the presentation of the poem that would not fit into a poem.  They might think these elements would fit better in a story.

Also, maybe a writer wrote a poem in a metaphorical way and wanted a more direct expression.

When turning a story, or part of one, into a poem, a writer can approach it in different ways.

One idea would be to read the story, and as each part (whether defined by a paragraph, section, chapter or whatever) is read, a poet could write that part out as a section of a poem.  The section might be a line, a stanza or a number of stanzas.

In turning a story into a poem, the writer could be overt and describe what happens in the story in direct language.  Alternatively, a writer could look for a metaphor or metaphors that fit the situation.  They could try to find something that symbolically represents what they are describing.  They could stick with the same metaphor throughout, or have a number of metaphors for different parts.

In turning a story into a poem, a poet should look for ways to condense the message.  What might be paragraphs in a story, might be lines in a poem.  The idea is to have more impact by saying less.

One idea a writer might try when turning a story into a poem is to use haiku.  Haiku are very brief and they can make it so the writer has to focus just on the essence of the story.  They could describe the story in the briefest terms.  A writer might try this for a whole story, or they could have a series of haiku for different parts.

When turning a poem into a story, a writer might try the approach taken in the poems with explanations on this blog and then move steps past it.  Like the poems with explanations, a writer could write out an explanation of the poem they have written.  They could go stanza by stanza, line by line, or even word by word.  They could write a full understanding of what the poem means.

After this step, the writer could take the explanation and turn it into a story.  This might be easier than working straight from the poem, because all of the symbolism and metaphor will have been spelled out.  A writer could take this and write an outline of a story.  From that, they could write a full story.

Turning stories into poems can be a useful means of expression.  A writer can take something long they have written and find ways to express meaningful parts of it in distinct ways.

Similarly, turning poems into stories can be a way for a writer to take something that might be a very good presentation of a scene and expand upon it and add more directness to it.

Poetry topic idea: expectation

Today’s poetry topic idea is expectation.

Life is filled with expectation.  There are conscious expectations, like expecting to graduate or expecting to get married.  There are also unconscious expectations, like expecting what a restaurant will be like before you walk in.

A poet could write about expectation in a variety of ways.  A poet could write about:

  • Fulfilled conscious expectations. A poet could write about something a person consciously expects to happen.  They could write about the situation before and after it happens.  They could write about how the person feels in both times.
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  • Unfulfilled conscious expectations. This is the opposite of the above idea.  A poet could write about someone consciously expecting something and that thing not happening.  Again, a poet could write about what the situation is like before and after this occurs.
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  • Unconscious expectations. As mentioned above, life has unconscious expectations.  There are many times when a person expects things to go a certain way even though they are not aware they are expecting it.  The person is expecting the norm of the situation.
     
    In writing about unconscious expectations, a poet could take different routes.  A poet could examine expected situations.  They could look deep into them and try to find social significance in what is expected.

    Alternatively, a poet could write about what happens when unconscious expectations are not fulfilled.  In some sense, these might be awkward or uncomfortable moments in life.

    A poet could also examine the process whereby unconscious expectations are formed in a person.  They could examine past experiences of a person and how those experiences shaped the person’s view of situations.

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  • The expectations of others. In life, a person often has expectations of others presented to them.  A person might have others expect them to go to college or to get married for example.  A poet could write about these ideas from different perspectives.  They could focus on the others having the expectations or on the person to whom they are presented.  They could look at how the expectations are perceived and at what happens if they are fulfilled or not.

Here is an example poem using the idea of expectation:

the scale

there’s a number
unseen
unspoken
that before looking down
you know

on one side
is happiness

on the other
disappointment

it’s there
quietly beside you
just out of view

Artwork to inspire poetry: plantains

plantains

The artwork above is a food artwork.  It is of cooked plantains.  The plantains were sliced and cooked in a butter alternative.  When they were nearing being done, brown sugar, honey and lemon juice were added.  The plantains were cooked a bit more and then served.  Although this food is not vegan in the sense that honey (and possibly sugar) are not vegan, it does not contain any meat or dairy.

This artwork can inspire poetry.  A poet could write about:

  • Places where plantains grow. A poet could look up the regions of the world where plantains grow and write about those places.  A poet could learn and write about what plantain farms are like and about those who work there.
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  • Cooking plantains. A poet could write about a meal being prepared with plantains as a side dish or a desert.
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  • The colors in the food. This dish contains yellows, golds, oranges and browns.  A poet could write a poem with those colors and use them symbolically in poetry.
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  • Sweet vs. savory as a metaphor. This dish is sweet.  The plantains were ripe and brown sugar and honey were used.  Plantains can also be cooked as a savory item.  They can be fried and sprinkled with salt.  A poet could see this contrast and use it as a metaphor for other things.
     
    There are a number of experiences and situations that could be one way or another depending on circumstances.  A poet could write about these situations and examine the ways they could differ.  A poet might include different versions of the same situation in the same poem.