Poem with an explanation: building castles

building castles
not knowing
they are made of sand

 

This poem is about doing something without the realization that it will be undone.  This idea could apply to many situations.  As an example, imagine someone starts a business.  They spend a great deal of effort setting it up.  They make it exactly how they want.  In a year though, the business the fails.  The person thought they were building something that would last.  Instead, they built something that disappeared.

This particular poem was based off of the idea of weight loss.  Sometimes when a person loses weight, they keep it off for a while, but they gain it back.  When the person lost the weight they thought it was permanent.  Instead, things went back to the way they were.  This idea was represented symbolically by the idea of person building what they thought was a stone castle, but it turned out to be a sand castle.  A sand castle is a temporary structure that will quickly disappear.

The idea of the poem is to contrast the idea of perceived permanence, with the reality of temporariness.

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Poem with an explanation: They all said the same

They all said the same,
“Stand bright and tall,
and as you do,
the birds will call.”

So hearing the words,
the squirrel did try,
it flapped its arms,
and tried to fly.

And looking to,
the trees so tall,
the squirrel did listen,
for the sparrows’ call.

But songs of joy,
it did not hear,
it was something else,
much like a jeer.

The sparrows sang out,
but the squirrel they did mock,
and there the squirrel stood,
so filled with shock.

The sparrows did laugh,
and jokes they did tell,
they poked at the squirrel,
and its countenance fell.

They said it was silly,
why did it try,
it was a squirrel,
and would never fly.

And the squirrel ran off,
and hid in the trees,
it started to cry,
and fell to its knees.

It then look at those,
who all said the same,
and asked them why,
but did not blame.

And they all stood,
with no words to say,
they thought they were right,
before that day.

And in the quiet,
the squirrel had a thought,
it would not try,
no matter what they taught.

 

This poem takes a look at a potential negative outcome that can come from well-meaning social advice.

In society, there is the well-meaning social advice that a person should put themselves out there.  That if a person wants to do something different, that they should and that their peers will support them.  This poem looks at a situation in which the positive outcome purported by the advice, does not come true.

In the poem, a squirrel wants to try to fly.  It encounters other animals in the first stanza that tell it, it should try this.  They say that if it does, that the birds who see, will support it.

In the second stanza, the squirrel goes into a clearing in the trees, stands in the middle, and tries to fly.

In the third stanza, the squirrel looks to the trees expecting to hear the birds cheer for it.

In the fourth stanza, the squirrel hears the birds, but instead of cheering the squirrel, they are making fun of it.

In the fifth stanza, the sparrows mock the squirrel’s attempt at flight and the squirrel is surprised by this.

In the sixth stanza, the sparrows laugh at the squirrel, tell jokes at its expense and poke fun at it.  This saddens the squirrel.

In the seventh stanza, the sparrows say the squirrel was silly, and that it would never fly.

In the eighth stanza, the squirrel is very embarrassed and sad.  It runs away, hides, and cries.

In the ninth stanza, the squirrel encounters the animals who gave it the advice.  It asks them why this happened, but does not blame them.

In the tenth stanza, the other animals are speechless.  They thought their advice was good; they thought it was well meaning.

In the eleventh stanza, the squirrel decides that it will no longer put itself out there in social situations.

The idea of this poem is to take a look at what sometimes can be a harsh reality.  Sometimes, when a person does something different, instead of encountering praise from their peers, they encounter ridicule.

Of course the ridicule is wrong, and the poem does not mean to imply that a person should not ever put themselves out there and do something different.  It rather, examines a situation, where this does not work out.  It examines a situation in which the positive view of the advice, does not match the negative reality that was encountered.

An example situation in life might be a person who wants to sew their own sweater.  They talk to some people about this who say it is a great idea and that their friends will support what they do.  The person takes the advice and sews the sweater.  When they wear it in front of their friends though, instead of their friends applauding what they did, they make fun of it.  They make fun of the appearance of the sweater, of the mistakes made in sewing it, and of the person making their own clothes.  The idealized outcome of the advice, did not match the reality the person encountered.

Poem with an explanation: Judgement

A penny taken.

“Into the cage!”
“Into the cage!”

A dollar in the pocket.

“No, it’s not the same.”
“It’s not the same.”

 

This poem is about judgment.  In the poem there are three people.

The first person is in the first stanza.  This person stole something small in value.  Symbolically, this refers to the idea that the person committed a small wrong.

The second person appears in the second stanza.  This person is judgmental.  They see the transgression of the first person and condemn them.  They want them punished severely.

The third person appears in the third and fourth stanzas.  This person points out that the second person is guilty of greater transgressions than the first person.  In the poem, the first person stole a penny.  The second person stole a dollar.  This symbolizes that the second person has done much worse, although it is hidden (in the pocket), than the first person.

The second person speaks to the third person in the fourth stanza.  They can’t see the connection.  They can’t see how what they did is wrong.  They can’t see how their condemnation of the first person, is a condemnation of themselves.  They think the first person should be judged harshly, but don’t see how they themselves should be.

Poem with an explanation: emptiness grows

emptiness grows,
and unlike the supposed living,
there is no relief,
with time

the flock flies above,
looking toward horizons,
while there beneath the stone,
the bear lies

nuts and berries,
are absent the hands,
the smell of roast turkey,
fills the air

under the stone,
the night falls,
as the emptiness grows,
in silence

 

This poem is about hunger.  In the poem there is a homeless person who has not eaten for days.

In the first stanza, the person’s hunger grows (emptiness grows).  This ailment, unlike something caused by a virus, does not heal with time (and unlike the supposed living (a virus may or may not be living), there is no relief, with time).

The homeless person is outside beside a building.  People move about around him (the flock flies above).  The people are focused on their lives (looking toward horizons) and don’t notice the man.  It is as if he is hidden (while there beneath the stone, the bear lies).

The man wants for simplicity.  There is this idea, that a person lost in the wilderness, will gather the simplest foods: nuts and berries.  This level of food is what the man desires, but he does not have it (are absent the hands).  About him though, people have an abundance of luxurious food (the smell of roast turkey, fills the air).

The man is metaphorically hidden and covered (under the stone).  In his hunger, he passes away (the night falls).  The stone also symbolizes a tomb.  His death has left an emptiness in the world (as the emptiness grows) but it is not noticed (in silence).

 

The above was a poem with an explanation.  The idea is to help readers learn about poetry through the explanation given.  Readers can learn about symbolism and metaphor by reading how they were applied in a particular situation.

If you like poems with explanations, please consider purchasing a copy of Understanding: poems with explanations.  It is an eBook that contains twenty poems with explanations.  It is available for $0.99 plus tax where applicable.

Understanding: poems with explanations by M. Sakran

Poem with an explanation: the hail storm

the sun rises
as darkness falls
hurrying out
into the hail storm

from the moment the wheels
to the halls of stone
the jackals bite
the hyenas laugh

into the cave
the walls of respite
but only for a moment
then to the storm

the sentinels’ eyes
are turned away
their ears of stone
do not hear

the wheels again
and steps are taken
nightmares continue
during the day

through the glass
the crowd jeers
and comforting hands
are somewhere else

into the night
a place of escape
dreading the moment
of the sun’s return

 

This poem is about being bullied.  In the poem, there is a little boy who is bullied at school.

The boy wakes up (the sun rises) and the reality that he will be bullied that day hits him as he does (as darkness falls).  In a strange situation, he has to hurry to get ready to go to school (hurrying out), a place he really doesn’t want to go (into the hail storm).

As soon as the bus comes (from the moment the wheels) the bullying starts.  It continues at school (to the halls of stone), where bullies harass the boy (the jackals bite) while their friends laugh (the hyenas laugh).

During lunch, the boy hides in the bathroom (into the cave the walls of respite), but lunch is only so long (but only for a moment) and he has to go back among the bullies (then to the storm).

Teachers in the school don’t seem to notice what is happening (the sentinels’ eyes are turned away their ears of stone do not hear).

When the school day is over, the bus takes the boy home (the wheels again) and the boy walks inside his house (and steps are taken).  Rather than finding relief though, the pain the boy experiences continues (nightmares continue during the day).

The bullies harass the boy through social media while others find it humorous and join in (through the glass the crowd jeers). The boy’s parents, seeing him as weak and not understanding the severity of the problem, don’t provide him any comfort (and comforting hands are somewhere else).

The boy goes to sleep (into the night) and finds some peace in the unconsciousness (a place of escape), but at the same time, he dreads the next morning (dreading the moment of the sun’s return).

This poem is about continued plight.  It is about someone feeling helpless.

 

If you like poems with explanations, M. Sakran has an eBook of them.  It is called Understanding: poems with explanations.  It is a collection of twenty original poems, with explanations of each of them. The main purpose of the book is to help readers expand their understanding of poetry through the explanations.

The poems in the book cover a variety of topics such as poverty, homelessness, pain, neglect, crime and illness.

The explanations look at the overall meanings of the poems, the meanings of individual parts of the poems, and form in the poems.

Poem with an explanation: teddy bear

The child,
put the teddy bear,
into the toy chest,
and ran off,
to play,
with his friends.

 

This poem is about a person putting their parent in a nursing home.  The poem has the following symbols:

 The child – this is the person.  They are a child in that they are a child of their parent.  This is something they forget.

 The teddy bear – this is the parent.  Like a parent, a teddy bear comforts a child when it is young.  This is also something the person forgets.

 The toy chest – this is the nursing home.  It is near but something that is only opened on occasion.

 Playing with his friends – the occupations and distractions of life.  At some point the child stops playing with the bear.  At some point the person forgets their parent in the nursing home.

P. S. If you like poems with explanations, please see Understanding: poems with explanations.

Poem with an explanation: having walked in the shoes

Having walked in the shoes,
one would think,
the words would be known,
but having walked in the shoes,
somehow,
there are no words.

 

This poem is about death and relatability.  The poem focuses on two people: a person who experienced a death in the short range past, and a person who has just experienced a death.  In the poem, the overt focus is on the first person.

The poem looks at the idea, that one would presume, that a person who has experienced something in the past, would know what to say to someone who has just experienced the same thing.  The reality though, in some situations, is that the experience of having been through something brings the realization that there are no sufficient words to say to someone else who has just experienced it.

In the poem, the person who experienced a death in the short range past has experienced the same thing as the person who has just experienced a death.  In a sense, they have walked in their shoes.  With this experience though, when called upon to say something comforting to the person who has just experienced a death, they realize there is nothing they can say.  They know what it is like, and they understand the inadequacy of any words they would use, and so they are at a loss for words.

As form elements, this poem repeats ideas.  It repeats the idea, and the exact phrase of, “having walked in the shoes”, and it repeats the idea of “words”.

 

If you liked this poem with an explanation, please consider purchasing a copy of the eBook: Understanding: poems with explanations.

Poem with an explanation: closing a medicine cabinet door

Who knew,
closing a medicine cabinet door,
could be so horrifying?

 

In some horror movies there is a sight effect that is shown.  In the effect a character is looking at a mirror that is on a door.  They see themselves and the background behind them.  Everything looks normal.  The character then opens the door, does something, and closes it.  When the character closes the door, they see something horrifying in the mirror.  It might be something behind them or it might be a change in how they appear.

This effect is the idea of the poem above.  In the poem, a person is reflecting on an experience.

The person in the poem just saw a horror movie with the effect mentioned.  After it is done, they go to the bathroom.  While there, they open a mirrored medicine cabinet door.  Then they remember the scene from the movie.

All of a sudden they become afraid.  They all of a sudden feel something behind them.  They all of a sudden have the sense that something ominous is about the happen.

In this moment, a simple act, closing a medicine cabinet door, has become frightening.  Something that was a thoughtless act, now has an immense amount of thought with it.  The person very much feels a moment they otherwise would not have noticed.

This basic idea – that of being scared of something that normally isn’t scary because of some experience – is something that can be applied to a number of situations.  In this case, the previous experience was based on fiction.  A poem could be written though where a previous experience was real.  For example, a person may have shocked themselves when they plugged something into an outlet.  The next time they plug something in, they might pause with fear.  The person would feel fear at what normally isn’t a frightening situation.

Poem with an explanation: Hello Sandy

Hello Sandy,
it’s nice to meet you,
you look familiar,
where did you come from?

 

This poem is about a person looking in a mirror and realizing they have aged.  The person was of course aware that they have been aging over the years, but they never stopped to really notice it.  In the poem, the person looks in a mirror and has a moment where they realize how much they’ve aged.

In the poem, the individual the person in the poem meets is named Sandy.  This name is an allusion to the mirror.  Mirrors are made of glass, which contains silica, which is found in sand.  Sand = Sandy.

In the poem’s second line, the person says, “it’s nice to meet you”.  This implies that they see their reflection as a stranger.  They don’t recognize themselves.

In the third line, the person says, “you look familiar”.  This alludes to the fact that the person remembers how they used to look when they were younger.  They also remember being younger.  They can see their younger selves in the person they see in the reflection. (Even though they don’t recognize themselves.)

In the last line, the person asks, “where did you come from?”  This alludes to the idea that age sneaks up on a person.  The person did not feel themselves get to this age.  It is as if it happened all of a sudden.  They are surprised to be where they are.