reading a story
how many pages are left?
the tree loses leaves
reading a story
reading a story
how many pages are left?
the tree loses leaves
Above is a photograph of a budding grape leaf. It can inspire poetry. Here is a poem inspired by it:
it’s opening day
will anyone stop over?
there are good dolmas …
from past mistakes
never fast enough
de errors pasado
nunca rápidamente bastante
slapping yourself in the face
while others stare with puzzled looks
they don’t see
tired and sweating
an hour on the treadmill
trying to fix it
It sneaks up on you,
you don’t really feel it.
Just a slight aberration,
nothing to really note.
there’s a slight tick,
and all of sudden,
it becomes real.
it’s only small,
nothing to be worried about,
not really a concern.
it becomes normal.
It becomes normal.
Your way of speaking changes.
Your name changes.
there are lights.
It’s only a day,
or maybe a week.
But it’s special.
There are lights.
and the smell of smoke.
So there’s a panic.
How did this happen?
So you try.
Run around the ellipse.
You do something,
that to a casual observer,
would seem very pointless.
One day though,
You buy new pants.
This poem is about the process of gaining unwanted weight.
The first stanza states an idea about gaining unwanted weight – It sneaks up on you, you don’t really feel it. For some people who have gained weight, this is true. It happened slowly. It was subtle. The poem describes the process.
The second stanza, talks about gaining the first two pounds. It talks about seeing it on the scale but not really noticing it.
The third stanza, talks about the point when five pounds are gained. Five pounds is enough that a person doesn’t think that maybe it’s just an aberration. Five pounds, as the stanza relates, is real.
The fourth stanza though, says that this five pounds isn’t really something to be concerned about. It express the idea that “It’s only five pounds.”
The fifth stanza expresses a change in thinking. The gained weight stops being “gained”. It simply become weight. It becomes part of you. It stops being something extra.
This notion that the five pounds stops being five “extra” pounds is related in the seventh stanza. It relates the idea that a person starts talking about themselves differently. Instead of saying, for example, that they weigh 135 lbs. They now say 140 lbs. It becomes part of how they reference themselves. Their identity changes.
The eighth stanza talks about holidays, birthdays, and special events. It refers to them as “lights”. It makes reference to them as a time when a person doesn’t watch what they eat.
The ninth stanza minimizes the extra food eaten. It refers to it as being for only a short time.
The tenth stanza continues this idea. It sort of expresses the protest, “But it’s a special time.” It justifies the extra eating.
The eleventh stanza talks about extra holiday eating. It talks about cakes with flower designs (flowers), turkey (birds), like might be had at Thanksgiving, and the smell of smoke, making reference to cookouts.
The twelfth stanza talks about this extra eating adding up.
The thirteenth stanza says that now ten pounds have been gained.
In fourteenth stanza, this ten pounds causes a panic.
The fifteenth stanza questions how the weight gain happened.
The sixteenth stanza expresses an idea of disbelief.
In the seventeenth stanza, there is the idea of exercising to lose weight. It talks about running on an elliptical machine (Run around the ellipse) and lifting weights (something, that to a casual observer, would seem very pointless – this references the idea that a person lifting weights moves lots of weight, but without an observable result – they aren’t loading a truck or something. They are just picking heavy weights up and putting them back down. Nothing seems accomplished.)
The eighteenth stanza says that this is not enough.
The nineteenth stanza talks about a person compensating for the exercise. The person loses calories by exercising (Five out), but they eat more because the exercise makes them hungry and because they think they can eat more because they exercised (ten in).
The twentieth stanza extends this idea. It says that a person compensates for exercise by being more sedentary at other times.
The twenty first stanza talks about the weight gain rising to fifteen pounds.
The twenty second stanza talks about the cycle described above continuing as a person gains more weight.
In the twenty third stanza, something changes.
The twenty fourth stanza says what this change is – You buy new pants. The idea here is to express the notion that the weight gain has been fully accepted. It is something that is permanent. You buy new pants.
The twenty fifth stanza asks a question – is this acceptance the end? Is the weight gain really permanent? Is this new weight the new norm?
The poem doesn’t answer the question. It leaves it open ended.
The idea of this poem is to express the process were a person gains unwanted weight. It isn’t meant to criticize a person who goes through this process, rather it just describes the process. The poem isn’t meant to ask, as the narration in part of the poem does, “How did this happen?”, but it rather simply describes how it can happen. The idea is to shine a light on something that is often unnoticed as it happens. The idea is to make something subtle for a person, be less so.
lighting the citronella
they won’t go away
prendiendo fuego a citronela
ellos no irá lejos
la memorias mal
Today’s experimental poetry form is called pear. It based off of layout on the page. The form is centered on the page to make the design easier. It generally looks as follows:
** ** **
The general idea is to have a poem in the shape of a pear.
Here is an example poem:
were hopefully planted.
When you write poetry you can write it in first person, second person, third person, about an implied person, about an ambiguous person, or in some combination. Each way has pros and cons and affects a poem differently.
When you write a poem in first person, it comes across personally. You are writing about what you did. This has a way of making the poem smaller in a sense. The poem isn’t about an idea, but rather about how that idea affects you.
First person poetry can be good in this way in a sense. When the topic is personal, writing about it from a personal perspective can make a greater impact. There is a difference between writing about a disease, for example, and writing about a disease that you have.
This though, can be limiting in some sense. Some readers might not be able to relate as well to the poem. The poem can sometimes be too particular to your condition and not have a wide enough impact.
First person poetry also can be narrow in its scope. There’s a difference between writing about traffic, for example, and writing about the traffic you experience. You are touching more on an experience rather than an idea. Some readers might like this approach, whereas others may not.
When you write first person poetry, there can sometimes be an inclusion of details. This is because you are writing about something you know. This can be good in the sense that it makes a poem more authentic. It can be limiting in the sense that not all readers may understand the details. For example, if you write a poem about traffic, and mention a particular road where you live, the ideas implied by that particular road might not come across to readers who aren’t familiar with it.
This essay is written in second person. It is written to you, the reader. Writing in second person can have a more conversational tone than writing in first or third person. This tone applies to poetry as well as prose.
When you write a poem in second person you are communicating with a reader. It may be all readers (like this essay) or it might be directed to a particular reader (even if others read it as a well). It is a one way communication, although through the use of anticipating a reader’s response, this can be lessened some.
When you write a poem in second person, because it is directed at a reader, it, like first person poetry, has a way of focusing on a person rather than an idea. Similar to the situation with first person poetry, this can limiting in some sense.
Second person poetry can be a good style if you want to say something. It is a good style to use to get a point across.
Additionally, when you write in second person it can sound less formal than when you write in third person. Depending on the goal of the poem this can be positive or negative.
When you write third person poetry, you write poems about another person that isn’t the reader. This other person could be a real person, a fictional person, or more specifically, a symbolic person.
A symbolic person can be used to represent an idea. An example might a symbolic patient in a hospital. You aren’t writing about a real, particular patient, or even a known fictional patient (like a character from a story) but rather you are writing about the idea of a patient.
Third person poetry can be good for writing about bigger ideas. It can be a good style when you want to expand the scope of your poem and the audience that it can impact. This can especially be the case if the third person is symbolic.
Sometimes you might write third person poetry about a real person. In writing about someone, you can impart your perspective of the person and write around the person.
An implied person is a first, second, or third person that isn’t named.
When you write about an implied person, you leave an overt mention of the person out of the poem and write instead about their experience. The person is still understood by the reader, you just don’t say who it is.
For example, look at this poem:
watch the clouds
feel the air
a storm is coming
This poem is written to second person. It is implied that you watch the clouds, you feel the air. It is a poem written to the reader.
The verbs used indicated the person. Had “watch” been “watches” and “feel” been “feels” the poem would have been implied to be about a third person.
A poem written about an implied person can have the benefits of a poem written overtly in the person, but the style can make the poem feel broader. As a negative though, the poem might not have as much impact because the person isn’t mentioned.
When you write a poem about an ambiguous person, the subject of the poem isn’t clear.
Here is an example poem:
each dark night
when will it be morning?
In this poem, who is walking home? Is it M. Sakran or a third person? It isn’t clear from the poem.
When you write a poem about an ambiguous person, there can be some benefits.
First, you can write about something personal without it sounding overtly as such. This can be good if you want to express something indirectly.
Second, you can write about something that isn’t personal, in a style that feels somewhat so. You can write about an experience you haven’t experienced in a way that still can sound authentic.
The ambiguity of writing about an ambiguous person can confuse some readers and depending on how you write it can be hard to have a poem sound like it could apply to first, second, and third person.
You can write a poem in a combination of persons. Think of a poem written in both first and second person. This would be poem where you write to someone but also speak about yourself. An analogy would be something like a letter.
When you combine persons in a poem, you have to be careful that you are clear at each instance which person you are writing about. Additionally, you don’t want to switch to an unintended person (for example switching from second person to third person). It can sound off to readers.
When you write a poem you have a number of options to choose from when deciding the subject of the poem. Who you choose can impact the style of your poem and how you express the idea. When you write poetry, you should try to write with different persons and express ideas in different ways. As an exercise you might write a poem in each of the persons above and see how the poem changes with each.
Above is a photograph of a shadowed bug under a fig leaf. The light is from above and because of that the bug appears to be darker than it is.
This photograph can inspire poetry. Here is a poem inspired by it:
unseen in the shadows
the bill waited
in the mailbox
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