Bilingual Poem: cooking cactus

Cleaning cactus,
bought from the store –
How do you cook these?
Lavando cactus,
compró de la tienda –
¿Cómo usted cocina éstos?


Poetry topic idea: home

Today’s poetry topic idea is home.  Home can inspire poetry.  Below are some ideas.  A poet could write about:

  • Home vs. house. A poet could write about the distinction between a place that has meaning (home) and a place that is simply a dwelling (a house).  They could write about what this means and how it develops.

  • Home buying and selling. A poet could write about the process and what the experience is like.

  • Home repair. A poet could write about repairs in a home.

  • Home decorating.

  • Home insurance.

  • Home in general.

  • Returning home.

  • Home as a place of respite.


Here is an example poem:

13 hours

driving in circles
parking place
small bus
tiny seat
where are the headphones?
tram thing
a burger costs how much?
why wasn’t this a direct flight?
tiny seat
flat soft drink
people mover thing
no the other way
people mover thing
where are the bags?
they’re black with blue tags
(they’re all black with blue tags)
getting bags
it’s blue and yellow
no that red
it’s blue and yellow
small bus



it’s really you?

Shadow: three year anniversary


Today is the three year anniversary of the death of M. Sakran’s dog Shadow.  Shadow was a good dog.  He was very cute and playful and was smart.  There was a commemoration on this blog after he died.

To mark the anniversary, here is a poem:

three years
is a long time
but in some way
it doesn’t feel that long ago

there’s a list of memories
that could fill too much here
but some things sadly
have faded away

your photograph
is there each day
but what did you sound like
when you barked?

your friend misses you
your friends miss you
you were a good dog
a very good dog

the backyard still feels empty

thanks for being here Shadow


Artwork to inspire poetry: hand holding a pear

hand holding a pear

Above is an artwork of a hand holding a pear.  It can inspire poetry.  A poet could write about:

  • Focus. In the artwork, the hand is black and white and the pear is in color.  This might make the pear the focus of the artwork.  A poet could write about the idea of focus.  They could write about how people focus on one thing or another in different situations.  They could write about the implications of this.

  • Movement. The hand in the artwork is holding the pear by the stem.  It is almost as if the hand is taking it from somewhere or putting it somewhere.  A poet could write about this idea of movement and apply it to different things.

  • Ornaments. In some way, the hand appears to be holding the pear the way a person might be holding a Christmas ornament.  It is as if the pear is going to be placed on a Christmas tree.  A poet could use this idea in poetry.

  • Being pear-shaped. Some people consider themselves to have a pear shape.  The hand holding the pear could be used to metaphorically relate to this.  For example, if a person did not like their pear shape and they wanted to change it, they could interpret the artwork as meaning that changing their pear shape is in their hands.  Different ideas could be used as well.

Here is an example poem inspired by the artwork:

the three year old
stood by the wall
as everyone laughed and played
with the new baby

Poem with an explanation: a whole new meaning

Words you can’t pronounce
take on a whole new meaning
when they’re inside of you
or someone you know.


This poem is about cancer.  Cancer is filled with all sorts of terms.  There are disease names, medicine names, names for things in blood tests, and more.  The terms are often about complex ideas and they can be hard to pronounce.

If a person doesn’t have cancer, or isn’t close to someone who has it, these terms don’t have much meaning.  A person not close to cancer might hear them in an ad for a medicine for example, and they don’t know what the terms mean and don’t pay much attention to them.

The experience though is different for a person with the disease or for someone close to them.  These obscure terms all of a sudden have a meaning and significance.  A measure of something in the blood or a medicine name have a whole new meaning when they’re personal.

The idea of this poem is to point out the idea of perspective; the idea that importance depends on situation.  This idea comes up at many instances in life.  How many times, for example, have you heard a news story about something unrelated to you?  What happened?  You may have forgotten about it right after you heard it.  If though, the story was personal to you, you may have listened intently and even acted on what you heard.  There is a difference based on situation.

This notion applies to so many things.  Debt, prison, disease, natural disasters, and a multitude of negative things, take on a whole new perspective when they are personal.  All of a sudden information about them matters.

This is an important idea for people.  Realizing it can help promote empathy.  Once you realize that something obscure to you can be important to someone else, you can better put yourself in their situation and can better understand how they feel.

Experimental Poetry Form: jack, queen, king

Today’s experimental poetry form is called jack, queen, king.  It is based off of the cards of those names in a deck of cards.

The form is an acrostic form with three stanzas.  The first stanza is an acrostic form for “jack”.  The second stanza is an acrostic form for “queen”.  The third stanza is an acrostic form for “king”.

In the first stanza, each line has eleven syllables, because a jack has a value of eleven.  In the second stanza, each line has twelve syllables, because a queen has a value of twelve.  In the third stanza, each line has thirteen syllables because a king has a value of thirteen.

The form also includes a rhyming pattern.  Lines 2, 6, 7, 8, and 11 rhyme.  Lines 1, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 12, and 13 rhyme.  The idea here is that lines that start with a vowel rhyme and lines that start with a consonant rhyme.

Here are the elements of the form:

J – 11 syllables, Rhyme A
A – 11 syllables, Rhyme B
C – 11 syllables, Rhyme A
K – 11 syllables, Rhyme A

Q – 12 syllables, Rhyme A
U – 12 syllables, Rhyme B
E – 12 syllables, Rhyme B
E – 12 syllables, Rhyme B
N – 12 syllables, Rhyme A

K – 13 syllables, Rhyme A
I – 13 syllables, Rhyme B
N – 13 syllables, Rhyme A
G – 13 syllables, Rhyme A

Here is an example poem using the form:

Jumping into the air with the ball in hand,
all hold their breath as the seconds tick on down,
climbing into the air as all around stand,
knowing if made that all will cheer in the land.

Quickly throwing the ball as all bases were manned,
understanding the meaning as the coach did frown,
ending the game would cause a party in the town,
expecting the umpire to say that one noun,
not knowing what would happen for nothing was planned.

Kicking the round ball with help from the adrenal gland,
into the net not thinking of the past patient gown,
not thinking too of the leg that was no longer tanned,
getting the final goal as all the cameras panned.

Poetry essay: Empathy in poetry

There are different perspectives in poetry.  A poet sometimes writes about themselves.  They might write about society.  They might write about a societal group.  They could write about a specific person.  They could write about a fictional person.

In writing poetry about others, one concern is that of empathy.  When a poet writes about the experiences of others, they could be concerned with letting the others know they have some sense of their feeling.  This can be important if a poet writes a poem about someone specific, or even if a poet writes a poem about a specific type of person.

Think, for example, of a poet writing about grief.  They might not be experiencing any grief at the moment, but they still want to write about it.  They might know someone who is experiencing grief, or they may want to communicate with those who are experiencing grief in their audience.

If a poet does this, the might find it important to be sensitive.  They are writing about people experience something difficult.  They don’t want to make light of the subject.  Additionally, they don’t want to seem out of touch.  They don’t want to use clichés or write things that people experiencing grief might not relate well to.

This same idea applies to other subjects as well, particularly those that have a negative component.  A poet wants to write something that reaches people in a way that they can relate to.

There are some steps a poet can take to improve the empathy of their poetry.

One thing a poet can do is talk to people experiencing something.  They might not ask, “So what is this like?” but they can try to get a sense of an experience through conversation.

As a corollary to this, and where appropriate, a poet could observe people who are experiencing something.   For example, if a poet wanted to write about loss in sport, they could observe sport teams and athletes when they lose.  They could look at their reactions and see what they say in interviews.  Of course, this isn’t appropriate for all situations, but it can help in some.

Another thing a poet can do is learn about a subject.  The more a poet knows about something, the more a poet can understand what someone experiencing it is going through.  Although it’s not the same, it can it least improve some understanding.  A poet could read articles, blogs, and books about a subject, and they could watch videos related to it.

As another technique, a poet could imagine themselves in a situation.  For example, if a poet wanted to express empathy for those who lost their jobs, they could imagine what it might be like to lose their own job.  They could try to imagine how they would feel.

Another thing a poet could do, and only where appropriate, is experience something themselves.  Of course, this isn’t right for all situations, but it can work for some.  For example, where they are physically able and with a doctor’s approval, a poet might skip a meal to experience a little bit of what hunger is like.  This could help a poet who wants to write for those experiencing hunger.

As another idea, a poet could draw on some past experience.  The experience might not be the same as what they are writing about, but as long as it relates it could help.  A poet could translate what they felt in the past experience to the new subject they are writing about.


Expressing empathy in poetry can be hard.  If a person hasn’t gone through something, it can be hard to express what that something feels like.  Still, there are steps a poet can take to improve the empathy of their work.  By doing so, a poet can better reach those who have gone through what they are writing about.