Bilingual Poem: the flames dance

If you are ill,
you need to see,
something new,
with your eyes.

In the night,
the fire dances,
and in the night,
your eyes see flames.


Si usted está infermo,
usted necesita mirar,
algo nuevo,
con su ojos.

En el noche,
el fuego balina,
y en el noche,
su ojos miran llamas.


Experimental Poetry Form: footprints

Today’s poetry form is called footprints.  It is based off of layout on the page and letter counts.  The form looks as follows:

*****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****

     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****

In the form, there are twenty words – ten on the first line, and ten on the second.  Each word is separated by five spaces.  The second line is indented five spaces.  Each word is five letters.

The idea is that the words resemble footprints.  Each footprint (word) is the same length, there is an equal amount of length between footprints, and the footprints are side by side, but offset.

When reading the poem, it should be read alternating from one line to the other, like feet walk.  The first word read, is the first word of the first line.  The second word read, is the first word of the second line.  The third word read, is the second word of the first line.  The forth word read, is the second word of the second line.  This pattern continues for the whole poem.

Here is an example poem:

Ideas     among     minds     where     glows     night     while     among     speak     words

     known     human     dwell     light     after     wanes     hopes     stars     quiet     aloud.

Poetry topic idea: aluminum cans

Today’s poetry topic idea is aluminum cans.  There are a number of ways a poet can use aluminum cans in poetry.  Some ideas include writing about:

  • The different beverages that can be in aluminum cans.

  • Recycling.

  • The idea that the fluid in aluminum cans, once opened, is only good for a short amount of time.

  • Fragility mixed with strength. Aluminum cans are fragile, in the sense that they can be easily crushed.  They are strong though because they can bear a relatively large amount of weight.

  • Preservation.

  • Mining.

  • Cans

Here is an example poem using the idea of fragility mixed with strength from aluminum cans:

seventy hours
collapsing on the sofa
a long week at work

Poetry topic idea: nightmare

Today’s poetry topic idea is nightmare.  A poet could use the idea of nightmares in a lot of ways.  A poet could write about:

  • Fear.  A poet could write about the underlying emotion of fear that is in nightmares.  They could explore different fears and how a person deals with them.

  • A nightmare in actual life. A poet could write about a life situation that is like a nightmare.  They could compare the actual situation to the imagined one of a nightmare.  They could explore the difference between what is real and what isn’t.

  • Different nightmares. A poet could explore different nightmares.  An example might be the nightmare of being chased.  A poet could look at this kind of nightmare and write about the emotions and situations involved in it.

  • How nightmares reflect real life. A poet could look at the psychology of nightmares and write about how they might reflect what is happening in a person’s life.

  • Nightmares of real situations. A poet could write about a nightmare a person has about something that really happened to them.  They could explore the idea of dreaming of something that is real.

  • Waking up from a nightmare. A poet could write about what it is like to wake up from a nightmare.  They could write about the feeling of realizing something was only a dream.

Here is an example poem:

a meaningless dream
then feeling awake
someone is in the room
how did they get in?

not being able to move
not being able to speak
what is going to happen
why are they here?

feeling something
and then the bed
looking around
is anyone there?

having a moment
of realization
but it felt so real
was it?

Poem with an explanation: know the truth that it is day

twenty past three
and it was getting late
the force of the wind
was blowing strong

in the night
the monsters roamed
and in the light
the drums did beat

and so in the day
the steps were taken
to the woods
and back again

and days and days
did move on by
and by the fields
the hills were climbed

and then one day
it was two

and birds did sing
and butterflies flew
and flowers bloomed
beneath the sun

but in the caves
the ogres watched
and said their words
of vileness

and rain did fall
on butterflies
and clouds did cover
all the fields

but listen you
who walk the paths
the words of ogres
are not the end

walk the fields
and climb the hills
and look beyond
toward the sun

know the truth
that it is day


This poem is about a person losing weight, but rather than their accomplishment being applauded, they are looked down upon.

In the poem, a person starts off weighing 320 lbs.  This is referenced as a time (twenty past three).  The time reference is continued with the idea of getting late.  This refers to the idea that the person’s health is poor, and if steps aren’t taken, they might not live as long as they could.

The person finds themselves short of breath.  This feeling makes them worry.  This is related in the lines the force of the wind/was blowing strong.  The word force also relates to the fact that weight is a measure of force.

The person has this experience and it keeps them up at night (in the night/the monsters roamed).  They are worried that because of their weight, they might die.  The next day (and in the light) they are so worried that they can feel their heart beating inside of themselves (the drums did beat).

The person decides to make a change (and so in the day/the steps were taken).  The person starts walking (the steps were taken).  In the beginning, they can’t go very far and simply walk from one door of their house to another (to the woods/and back again).

The person keeps walking (and days and days/did move on by).  As they do, they find they are able to go farther and they leave their house (and by the fields/the hills were climbed).

The person keeps walking, and then one day, they fall below three hundred pounds (it was two).  It was two ties back into the idea of time from before.

The person is very happy (and birds did sing/and butterflies flew/and flowers bloomed/beneath the sun).

This happiness though isn’t shared by others.  The family of the person puts down their accomplishment.  They say the person is still overweight.  They say that being less than three hundred pounds isn’t an accomplishment.  They say the person hasn’t done anything.  They criticize the person and call them names (but in the caves/the ogres watched/and said their words/of vileness).

The person is saddened by this (and rain did fall/on butterflies/and clouds did cover/all the fields).

In the poem though, someone else speaks.  They talk to the person (but listen you/who walk the paths).  They tell the person that the words of their family aren’t what is important (the words of ogres/are not the end).

They encourage the person to keep on working (walk the fields/and climb the hills).  They tell them to look past the negative comments (and look beyond) and see the accomplishment they have made and where they are going (toward the sun).

They tell the person that the words of their family are lies (know the truth), and that the reality is they have done an amazing thing (that it is day).

This poem relates to something that happens in life.  A person can accomplish something that makes them feel good, but if that accomplish doesn’t meet the expectations of others, the person might be criticized for achieving so little in the eyes of others.  The poem express the idea that this is wrong and that people should feel good about their accomplishments, even if they have more to do.

Poetry essay: Poetic twists

One poetic effect, is the idea of a twist.

Here is one example:

After struggling,
and sweat,
and endless hours,

he lost,



    fifteen pounds.


In this case, the first part makes the loosing seem like a bad thing.  There was a great deal of effort and then the person lost?  The twist though, was that the loosing was actually good.  He lost weight, which presumably, was a goal.

Here is another example:

they roamed the street
with eyes and teeth aglow

they approached the home
seeking to consume
that which was within

and at the door
as those within came forth
they shrieked their horrible call,
“Trick or treat!”

This poem is about Halloween.  The poem at first sounds like some monsters are about and they are going to eat people in a home.  In reality, they are trick or treaters dressed up for Halloween hoping to get candy.

Here is a third example:

the sun was shining
and the flowers,
just blooming,
filled the air with fragrance

everyone gathered
dressed in their best
as music played

doves cooed
waiting to be released

as a hush came over the crowd
someone gave
the slightest of signals
and the funeral began


This poem seems to start off happy.  It sounds like it is describing an outdoor wedding.  It’s a sunny day, there are fragrance filled flowers, there are lots of people who are dressed up, music is playing, and doves are going to be released.  In the twist though, this happy scene is really sad.  The scene is of a funeral.  All the bright things are in some way a cover for sadness.  The sadness of the scene is revealed at the end.


Here are some tips for using twists in your poems:

  • Have a lead in. For a twist to work there needs to be an appropriate lead in.  It needs to be long enough and effective enough that the reader forms an image and emotion in their mind.

  • Consider offsetting the twist. One way to create a pause for a twist, is to have it indented, after some number of line breaks, or both.  The idea is to have a dramatic pause to emphasize the twist.

  • Consider your title. The title can be part of the lead in or it can be a twist as well.  You can have a title that alludes to the reality of the poem while seeming to fit with the lead in.  If done correctly, this can amplify the effect of the twist.

  • Don’t go too far with a twist. Be careful not to turn off your audience with a twist.  Turning something happy to something sad is all right.  Turning something happy to something disturbing, might not be.

  • Know the twist before you start. This can make setting it up easier.  If you just write a scene with some emotion, but aren’t sure what the cause of the emotional change will be, it can make the lead in difficult to write and less effective.

  • Consider multiple kinds of twists. You can twist from happy to sad, from serious to silly, from large to small, from calm to excitement, and many other things.  Also, you can twist the other way, for example sad to happy or silly to serious.

  • Make sure the twist makes sense. The twist should be an opposite.  You can twist from happy to sad, but happy to serious might not work as well.  In the third poem above, the happy scene of a wedding was twisted to the sad scene of a funeral.  If this happy scene though had twisted to something like the opening of an office building, it might not have worked as well.

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A photograph to inspire poetry: green berries

green berries

Above is a photograph of green berries.  It can inspire poetry.

First, the berries are unripe.  This idea could lead a poet to write about something that isn’t finished.

Second, the berries may be poisonous.  This idea could lead a poet to write about the idea of potential danger.

Third, the berries are in a group.  This idea could lead a poet to write about groups of things.

Fourth, the berries are round.  This idea could lead a poet to write about things that are round.

Here is an example poem:

the round bottles stood
upon the table
each half filled
with something green