Poem with an explanation: still awake

going along
seeing the dream
still awake


This poem is about unfulfilled aspirations.  The person in the poem is going about their life, they see the life they want, and they realize that they aren’t living it.  They have had the aspiration and have struggled toward it for some time, but have not reached it.

An example might be a person who works for someone else, but dreams of working for themselves.  They have tried to move in that direction, but haven’t made any progress.  One day they are driving along and they see someone opening a store for the first time.  They see it, realize that is what they want and then realize that they aren’t there.  There’s a certain sense of defeat in the situation.  The person wants to be there, has tried to be there, but isn’t.  To see someone else achieve what they want, emphasizes to them that they haven’t achieved it.

The poem is not about envy or jealousy, but rather it is about a person feeling bad about their unfulfilled goals.  The poem is inward looking rather than outward.

In terms of form, the poem is three lines with a word count pattern of 2 – 3 – 2, and a syllable count pattern of 4 – 4 – 3.

Poem with an explanation: You who call in the night

You who call in the night,
what do you need?

Is it

  a resolution?
  a warning of dread?
  an insignificance?
  just a presence?

You who call in the night,
what do you need?


This poem has two levels, the literal and the metaphorical.

On the literal level, the poem is about a simple idea: a dog outside a house barking with a sound to get attention.  The dog is the one who calls in the night, and the person in the house asks what the dog needs.

The person in the house believes the dog is barking so that:

  the person will bring the dog food
  the person will solve a problem for the dog (ex. something is caught on the dog’s collar)
  the person will be aware of something bad (ex. a storm, an animal, an intruder)
  the person will just listen, and there is nothing the dog needs,
  or the person will come outside and spend time with the dog.

When the dog barks, the person questions what the dog needs.  After the list of things, the person questions the dog again.  It is interesting, that at the end of the poem, the person does not actually see what the dog wants, nor does anything for the dog (at least it isn’t stated that they do).

On a metaphorical level, the poem could be seen as about a group in humanity calling out for help.  It could be refugees or the poor of some area or people affected by a war.  Although not equating the two, the poem uses the literal idea of a dog barking for something, to express the idea of the group calling out for help.

The group calls out in the night (from some place of darkness) and others in humanity who hear, question what they want.

As with the dog, they think the group is crying out for:

  aid (sustenance)
  a solving of what is causing their problem (a resolution)
  to warn others that what is harming them might harm others (a warning of dread)
  for no reason (from the perspective of the ones hearing – they may not realize the significance of the plight of the group and think their call is insignificant) (an insignificance)
  for intervention (just a presence).

Again, as with the dog, the ones who hear question the callers, but nothing is said if they help them or not.

The idea of the poem was to take something simple (a dog barking) and apply it to something significant (the plight of some group in humanity).

Poem with an explanation: Home

what is good seems more,
what is bad seems less

the mundane grows flowers,
the tree,
the wall,
the difference in the sky

all things seem different,
like a lens was changed

the colors are new,
and all is better.


This poem is about the perspective of someone who has been away from home for some time.  They were away in an unpleasant situation.  It might have been a long arduous trip, for example.  The person is relieved and happy to be at home.

At the start of the poem, the person is standing in familiar surroundings.  They are home.  They feel a sense of peacefulness and serenity after what they have been through.  They have a new perspective.  The good things at home seem better, and the bad things seem less bad.

The mundane things in their life at home seem to grow flowers and grow better.  They notice with fondness ordinary things like a tree and a wall.  Because of what they have been through and their changed perspective, even the sky looks different.

All things seem different to them, like they are looking through a new lens and can now see things as they really are.

Things look so different that colors seem new.  All seems better to them.

Poem with an explanation: Freedom

the sunshine
and nothing


This poem is about ending an ordeal.  The ordeal can be a variety of different things, but generally is something negative that was endured.  It could be extremely negative, like prison, or slightly negative, like a week with in-laws.  Generally though, it is an experience that is endured and the end of which is looked forward to.

The idea of the poem is to convey everything in something small.  The first line of the poem is “the sunshine”.  This is the relief.  This is the end.  This is the freedom from what has happened.  This is the moment where it is all over.

The moment is significant.  There is much to it.  There are tears in the eyes, and a multitude of emotions inside.  It’s quiet, but the significance is loud.  It’s like walking out of prison free.  It’s all that moment contains.

The next line, “and nothing”, expresses the speechlessness of the moment.  It is hard to describe (even in this explanation).  There are no words for it.  Nothing conveys it correctly.  It’s a thousand words that need to be expressed as two words.  Imagine meeting someone as they walk out of prison, and asking, “So what does this feel like?”  There are no words to describe it.

One thing about the poem, is that it is incomplete in some way.  The idea of the poem is that the freedom experienced is simply profound and there are no words that adequately describe it.

This poem is about freedom.  It is about being free from something that was overwhelming.  The idea was to express it simply but in a way that got the point across.

Poem with an explanation: shiver

an overwhelming sense,
pricks in the hands,
pricks in the feet,
the bones rattle,
and there is worry.

under the sand,
burying deep,
and hoping.


Covering the roof,
with joyfulness,
gathering the sand,
and waiting.

Slowly the drum,
beats more slowly,
slowly the earth,
slows its quake,
but still,

In the cave,
an armor of hope,
the way between,

a run,
a burst,
a dash,
the armor,
back across,
under the sand,
pull it close,
hold together,
and wait.

The earth still tremors,
and truth is known,
that somewhere across,
a vast sea,
the weaver’s cloth,
does exist.

thoughts of pain,
and the ship sails.

A journey,
not recounted,
was made,
and there in the sand,
under the roof,
with the armor,
and the cloth,


This poem is about someone with a fever.  The poem describes them starting to shiver and them seeking warmth.

At the start of the poem, the person is by their bed.  They are standing there, when they start to shiver (shaking, shaking).  They realize what is happening (an overwhelming sense) because they have a cold and know they have a fever.

As the feeling spreads across their body, they feel a pain in their hands (pricks in the hands) and feet (pricks in the feet), they start to shake more (the bones rattle) and they worry about their condition (and there is worry).

They then jump into their bed (jumping), pull their covers on them (under the sand, burying deep) and hope this helps (and hoping).

Despite this though, they continue to shiver (shaking, shaking).

The person has been ill for some time before the fever caused them to shiver, and because of this they had a warm cap in their bed.  They had it there to cover their head, should they feel cold at night.

As the person shivers under their blanket, they reach and find the cap and put it on their head (covering the roof).  They believe that covering their head will have an effect on how warm they feel and so they feel happy when they put it on (with joyfulness).  They then pull their blanket around themselves (gathering the sand), continue to shiver (shaking, shaking) and wait for it to stop (and waiting).

As the person was shivering, their heart was beating faster than normal.  As they are huddled under the covers with their cap on, they feel their heartbeat start to slow (slowly the drum, beats more slowly).  Their shivering also begins to slow (slowly the earth, slows its quake).  Still though, the person shivers (but still, shaking, shaking).

In the person’s closet they have a sweat suit (in the cave, an armor of hope).  They know it is there, but they realize they will feel cold if they get out of bed to get it (the way between, guarded).

The person resolves to get out of bed and run to the closet and get the sweat suit.  They decide to count to twenty and then run to get the suit.  The person counts (counting, counting), jumps out of bed, runs to the closet (a run, a burst, a dash, hurry), gets the sweat suit and puts it on (the armor), runs back to their bed (back across, back), gets under the covers (under the sand), pulls the covers close (pull it close), holds the blanket tight (hold together) and they wait to feel warm (and wait).

Despite their efforts, they still shiver (the earth still tremors).  The person thinks (and truth is known), that in another room of their house (that somewhere across, a vast sea), they have a thick blanket (the weaver’s cloth, does exist).

The person counts again (counting, counting), thinks of how cold they will feel if they go to get the blanket (thoughts of pain), counts again (counting, counting) and they go for the blanket (and the ship sails).

The journey back and forth to get the blanket, was difficult for the person, and so they don’t think about it (a journey, not recounted, was made).  They get back to their bed, under the covers (and there in the sand), with their cap on (under the roof), with their sweat suit on (with the armor) and under the thick blanket (and the cloth) and they feel peace (peacefulness).

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.

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.

Poem with an explanation: Sitting down

Sitting down,
on the tomb like stone,
all is blurry,
in the singularity,
after a moment,
the summer solstice,
appearing in March,
a tornado,
from the hurricane,
to those in the stands,
it either makes sense,
or is foolishness,
but there,
on the tomb like stone,
all is blurry,
in the singularity.

Above is a poem.  Below is its explanation.  Before you read the explanation though, take a moment, and think about what you think the poem means.  Then, as you read the explanation, you can see how your interpretation of the poem compares with the intended meaning of the poem.

Did you think it meant something different?

Did you think it meant the same thing?

Were you surprised?

Was it what you expected?

If you find this exercise to be insightful in some way, the idea of comparing what you thought a poem meant compared to what the poet intended it to mean, you might consider writing a post for your blog about it.  You can link to this post if you want.  Please let M. Sakran know if you do, by using the Contact page.  Maybe you found some insight about how you read poems, or about the idea of intended meaning vs. interpreted meaning, or something else, that you thought might be good to share with your readers.  If so, consider sharing it with your readers.

If you like poems with explanations in general, you might consider purchasing a copy of M. Sakran’s self-published eBook, Understanding: poems with explanations, which contains twenty poems and explanations of those poems.

Here is the explanation of the poem:

This is a poem about a person whose pet has died in front of them.  The pet died of some illness.

The poem starts after the pet’s death.  The person is sitting down on the concrete (on the tomb like stone) beside their pet.  The concrete is tomb like because of the pet’s death.

The person is crying (all is blurry) and the moment they are having is intensely focused (in the singularity).  The person pauses (after a moment) and certain thoughts come to their mind.

The first idea is two expressions of the notion that death is completely expected, but still hits like a surprise.  Two metaphors for this are given.  The first is the summer solstice, appearing in March.  The summer solstice is a completely predictable event.  Even down to the minute for a given location.  Yet, in the poem, it comes early, at an unexpected time.  The summer solstice was used as a metaphor for death, because it is the longest day of the year.  Each day after that, until the winter solstice, gets darker and darker.  It is a metaphor for how the person feels.

The second metaphor shows the idea of something unpredictable, a tornado, from something predicable, a hurricane.  The idea here is that a hurricane is big and ominous, but can be tracked with some predictability.  This is like the general idea of death.  A tornado though is often a complete surprise.  This is like the idea of a specific death.  There is a difference between the general idea of something, and the specific instance of it happening.

After this, the person feels a moment of self-consciousness.  They imagine people seeing them on the ground crying (to those in the stands).  They either think that these people will understand the sadness and significance of their emotions (it either makes sense) or that the people will look at them like they are foolish for crying about a dog (or is foolishness).

This brief moment of self-consciousness ends though as the person comes back to their situation.  They stop thinking and just feel where they are.  They go back to how they started, on the concrete (on the tomb like stone), crying (all is blurry) and in an intensely focused moment (in the singularity).

In terms of form, some elements are:

Lines two, three and four are repeated as lines fourteen, fifteen and sixteen.

All lines are between two and five words long.

Seven of the sixteen lines, end in a word, starting with ‘s’.


Hopefully you enjoyed this poem with an explanation.

Poem with an explanation: Out in the ocean

Below is a poem with an explanation.  Before reading it, please check out M. Sakran’s self-published collection of poems with explanations, Understanding: poems with explanations.  After you read the poem and explanation below, if you like the idea of a poet explaining their poem so that you know exactly what it means (such that you could learn more about poetry by reading what one means – which is the general idea of the eBook), then consider purchasing a copy of M. Sakran’s eBook.  The eBook has twenty poems that have in depth explanations.  The idea, is that by reading what some poems really mean, the reader can hopefully better understand poetry and improve their reading and writing of it.  Thank you very much, enjoy the poem and explanation, and hopefully you’ll check out the book.


Out in the ocean,
holding on,
to a piece of the wreckage.

There’s floating,
trying to strain plankton from the water,
hoping it will rain,
and the sun won’t be too hot.

In the delirium,
there’s a sight,
far away,
a mountain,
and there,
in the valley,
in the cool air,
and greenness,

In the moments,
as eyes look out,
there are plans,
plans about the hut,
and its expansion,
plans about fishing,
and setting up traps,
plants and fruits,
and planting bushes,
plans of tools,
plans of ropes,

But there,
out in the ocean,
the leg kicks are in vain,
the arm reaching out grabs nothing,
in the back,
things float by,
but they aren’t seen.

The mind flows,
to thoughts of drift wood,
to finding a plastic sheet,
to finding a floating drum.

It all mixes,
but then again,
there’s the beach,
and the hut,
and there again,
there’s the mountain,
and the valley.

Out in the ocean,
holding on,
to a piece of the wreckage.


This poem is about the state of a person’s life.  It exams three ideas: where they are, where they want to be in the near future and what their dream is.  As an analogy, the reader might think of a person in a state of unemployment (where they are), the next job they hope to get (where they want to be in the near future) and the business they hope to own (what their dream is).  The idea though, could be applied to many other situations.  The poem contrasts the person’s dreams with their actions and reality.

In the first stanza, the person is in a state of despair.  Life is not going well.  They are out in the ocean, holding on to a piece of the wreckage.  They aren’t drowning, but they are just holding on.  The wreckage is part of what was keeping the person afloat before.  It was whatever helped them not be in the situation they are in.  Using the job analogy, it might be some sort of side work that relates to what they used to do, that the person is getting so that they can just barely make it, at least for a while.

In the second stanza, the person is doing little things to get by (strain plankton from the water) and hoping something good will happen (it will rain) and that something bad won’t happen (the sun won’t be too hot).

In their condition, they dream of what they wish for.  It is something that gives them a sense of peace and comfort.  It is as different from where they are as things can be.  In the poem, the peaceful place is in the mountains, which is as far a departure from the sea as a person can be, in a sense.  Using the job analogy, this is the person’s dream of owning their own business.

In the following stanza, the person dreams two steps ahead.  Using the job analogy, it would be like a person dreaming about what the promotion they would get after they get an entry level job, would be like.  They dream of the improvements it will bring in their life.  They skip over the entry level job in their thoughts.

In the next stanza, the person has a moment of reality.  They try to improve their situation but nothing works.  They also miss opportunities.

When these moments of reality hit, the person stops thinking of the far away goal, and even the near term goal, and starts to think about their present.  They think of small things, that in any other situation, wouldn’t be seen as achievements, but in their current situation do.

The reality is unpleasant for the person though.  Thinking of inches, when there are dreams of miles is disheartening to them.  They again start to dream about the near term goal and the future wish.

In the end, the person is still in their reality.

This poem contrasts a person’s reality with their aspirations.  The person in the poem is a dreamer, but they don’t seem to be able to move forward to their dreams.  They get ahead of themselves.  They dream of improving life on the beach and living in the mountains, while they are floating on a piece of a shipwreck in the ocean.  They are focused on tomorrow, but not paying enough attention to today.

Although the poem was described using the idea of a person’s employment condition, it could be extended to many other ideas.  For example, a person who isn’t in shape might be dreaming about running a 5K and a marathon.  It could also be applied a person who has trouble getting a date, thinking about what it would be like to date someone and be married.  It also might be used to talk about a person with an addiction, thinking about what it would be like to be six months sober and two years sober.  In all the ideas, the person is getting ahead of themselves.  They aren’t able to improve their current situation, but they dream of the situation being changed.

In terms of form, the poem is divided into eight stanzas. The number of lines per stanza varies between three and twelve.  With exception of the second four line stanza, the number of lines per stanza increases to a point and then decreases to a point.  Had that idea been more important, the second four line stanza could have been increased to seven lines long, and the seven line stanza could have been decreased to six lines long, to maintain the idea.

In the poem, the first and last stanzas are the same.  The idea was to provide circularity.  Despite all the thought and dreaming, the condition of the person is the same at the end of the poem as at the start.

In the third stanza, the phrase “in the” is repeated three times.  In the first use, it is negative, in the second two uses, it is meant to take the reader into the person’s dream.

The fourth stanza starts with “in the”.  In the third stanza, the situation was “In the delirium”.  In the fourth stanza, it is “In the moments”.  The two “in the” phrases from the third stanza, transitioned the person’s state of mind so that they are fully dreaming.

In the fifth stanza, the word “plans” is repeated six times.  The idea was show how much the person in the poem was dreaming.  They had detailed ideas about what they wanted.  They were planning.  This is contrasted with doing.

In the second to last stanza, “to finding a” is repeated twice.  The idea was to emphasize the person grasping for scraps in their situation.  The state of the person is bad to a point, that things that are seen as debris, are useful to them.


If you liked this poem with an explanation and like the idea of explained poems as way to hopefully better understand poetry, then please consider purchasing a copy of Understanding: poems with explanations.

Poem with an explanation: Little Billy’s Birthday

Little Billy’s dad told him he should like football.

Little Billy replied that he did not.

Little Billy’s dad told him that was silly, that all boys should like football.

Little Billy replied that he did not.

Little Billy’s dad told him that for Billy’s birthday, he would buy Billy a football.

Little Billy replied that he did not want a football.

Little Billy’s dad told him that was silly and he would get one.

Little Billy replied that he did not want a football.


Little Billy’s birthday came, and his dad gave him a football.

Little Billy looked sad.

Little Billy’s dad asked why he looked sad.

Little Billy replied because he did not want a football.

Little Billy’s dad said that was silly, that all boys should like football.

Little Billy replied that he did not.

Little Billy’s dad said that all boys like football.

Little Billy replied that he had told his dad that he did not.

Little Billy’s dad said that Billy had not said anything like that.

Little Billy replied he had.

Little Billy’s dad said that was not true.

Little Billy replied he had told his dad twice.

Little Billy’s dad said that Billy was ungrateful.

Little Billy asked his dad why he would buy him something he knew he did not want.

Little Billy’s dad said that Billy was spoiled.

Little Billy asked his dad why he couldn’t have gotten him something he liked for his birthday.

Little Billy’s dad said he should be happy he got anything.

Little Billy asked why his dad had treated him this way.

Little Billy’s dad did not understand.

Little Billy asked why his dad had to do something to his son rather than for his son, even on his birthday.

Little Billy’s dad did not understand.

Little Billy asked why his dad could not have just been nice to him on his birthday.

Little Billy’s dad got mad, cancelled Billy’s birthday, and sent Billy to his room.

Little Billy sat in his room alone.

Little Billy stayed awake until 12:00:01 am.


This poem is about a little boy’s birthday.  It tells the story of the boy getting a present he did not like for his birthday.  Rather than it being a poem about an ungrateful child, it is a poem about a boy whose father doesn’t listen to him or care about his feelings.  The present the boy got was something his father wanted him to have, but not something he wanted.  The idea of the poem is that the father is concerned with his view of things and doesn’t care about his son’s view, even on his son’s birthday.  This reflects their relationship overall.

The poem starts before the boy’s birthday.  He is having a conversation with his dad.  His dad thinks his son should like football, but his son doesn’t.  The dad doesn’t listen to his son and dismisses him.  The dad feels so much that his son should like football that he tells him he will buy him one for his birthday.  Twice his son says that he does not want a football.  He is dismissed by his dad.

When the boy’s birthday comes, his dad gives him a football.  The boy is sad.  When the dad asks him why, he responds because he does not like football.  His dad dismisses what he says and insists that all boys like football.

The son tells his dad that he had said that he did not like football.  His dad denies that his son said this.  They go back and forth and his son says that he had told his dad twice that he did not like football.

The dad calls the son ungrateful.  The son questions why his dad would buy him something he knew that he did not want.  The dad calls the son spoiled.  The son questions why his dad couldn’t have gotten him something he liked for his birthday.  His dad says he should be happy he got anything.

The son questions his treatment but his dad does not understand.  His son asks why his dad did something to him rather than for him on his birthday.  Again the dad does not understand.  The son questions why his dad could not have been nice to him on his birthday.  The dad gets mad, cancels the birthday, and sends his son to his room.

The son sits in his room alone and stays awake until his birthday completely ends.


This is a poem about listening, perspective, understanding, kindness, and importance.

In the poem, the dad does not listen to his son.  He sees the world a certain way, and doesn’t seem to comprehend why his son doesn’t see it the same.  The dad wants what he wants and disregards how his son feels.

The dad didn’t listen to his son and couldn’t see things from his son’s point of view.  He wanted something for his son and couldn’t see past that.  When his son isn’t happy having a day that was supposed to be special for him, turn into a day where his dad imposes something on him, his dad doesn’t understand.  The son is insulted and punished and his birthday is spoiled because the dad thought it was more important to do what he wanted to his son, rather than doing something for his son.  He couldn’t see that his son’s birthday was an important day where his son should be given importance.  He simply thought something and did it.  He didn’t think how his son would feel.  To the son, the day was important for him; for the dad, the day was just a day to do what he wanted to his son.


Every line of this poem starts with “Little Billy” or “Little Billy’s”.  While this may seem repetitive, it was done intentionally.  The idea was first, to stress the importance of the son.  The poem is about him and his perspective.  Second, is the idea that Billy is “little”.  He is little for a few reasons.  First, he is young.  He is just a little boy.  Second, in the poem he is meek.  His dad is big and imposing and he is small and helpless.  Third, Billy is a junior.  He is named after his dad.  This goes back to the idea of control.  His dad named his son after himself as a way to control him.

In the first section of the poem, the part before the party, in every statement of Billy’s dad, his dad tells him something.  He doesn’t speak with his son, but to his son.  In that same section, every time Billy speaks, he replies to his dad.  Billy is talking with his dad, not to him.  In this section, Billy’s words are repeated.  His first two lines are the same and his last two lines are the same.  This stresses that Billy was clear about how he felt.

In the next section, Little Billy’s lines continue primarily with the idea of either replying or asking.  His dad in this section says things to Billy or acts.


In some ways, this poem is about perspective.  Some reading it may side with the dad, and think Billy was ungrateful, spoiled and should be happy he got anything.  Presumably, there are some who feel that way.  For those he see it from that perspective though, imagine for a moment, if you were a vegetarian, and someone bought you meat for your birthday because they thought you should eat it.  Would you feel like Billy?

Others reading this poem though, may see it from the point of view of Billy.  Billy’s birthday was supposed to be a very special day for him, but it was changed into something else.  Billy wanted his birthday to be special and important for him and it wasn’t.  His dad put himself first, rather than his son.


P. S. Do you like poems with explanations? If so, you can purchase a copy of M. Sakran’s self-published collection of poems with explanations called, Understanding: poems with explanations.  It has twenty poems, each with a detailed explanation.  If you like explained poems, you should buy a copy.