Poetry topic idea: sugar

Today’s poetry topic idea is sugar.  A poet could write about sugar in a number of ways.  A poet could write about:

  • Blood sugar. A poet could write about low blood sugar, high blood sugar, diabetes, and other conditions.  They could write about what different conditions are like and what it is like to have them.

  • Sweetness. A poet could write about things being sweet.  They could look at sweetness from a taste perspective and as a description for how a person acts (e.g. a person did something sweet).

  • The idea of an unwritten sound in a word. In the word sugar, there is an “h” sound that is not written.  The word is pronounced “shugar”.  A poet could explore this idea, look at other words with similar sounds, and use it as a metaphor for other things.

  • Foods and drinks that taste sweet.

  • Sugar itself. A poet could explore different forms of sugar and sugar as a chemical compound.

Here is an example poem:

little white crystals
of deception
they entice the eyes
with their sparkle and form
but they lead astray
down a path of pain
if the mouth does take
all that the eyes desire

Poem series: Weather: Number Two

The crystals fall upon the ground
and cover it without a sound,
and each are clear when seen alone,
but groups of them have whiteness shown,
and the crystals they form the snow,
that all on sight do clearly know,
and men of snow do stand outside,
where leafless trees do now reside,
and hills of snow do cover lawns,
and dens of small fur covered fawns,
and the white snow does last for weeks,
as ice does form on flowing creeks,
and the crystals that fell this year,
in some short months will disappear.

A poem with an explanation: Crystal mistake

Crystal mistake

The cup of black tea was now bought,
and so the white can it was sought,
some crystals were poured,
the drinker then floored,
because it was salt that she got.


This poem is a limerick and is intended to be humorous.  The humor comes from the mistake of pouring salt instead of sugar into tea and then tasting it.

The first line of the poem introduces the object for the mistake.  A variety of foods and drinks could have been used.  Depending on what was chosen, the mistake could have been pouring sugar instead of salt.  A cup was chosen to imply hot tea instead of cold tea.  This was to help create a visual image in the mind of the reader.

The second line mentions a white can.  The color of the can is meant to hint at the contents of the can, by implying that the color of the contents is associated with the color of the can, without stating what the contents are.  A can was chosen because it is ambiguous in terms of what it contains.  If, for example, a bowl was chosen instead of can, it may have leaned too much toward sugar.

The third line goes with the second line in describing the substance in the can without stating what it is.  Crystals can imply either salt or sugar.  The substance was poured instead of spooned or sprinkled to continue the ambiguity of what it was.

One aspect of this poem to note at this moment is the idea of an intuitive feeling.  The intent of the first three lines is for the reader to intuitively feel that sugar is being poured into tea.  Hopefully this scene will be common to the reader.  If this intuitive feeling does not happen it will decrease the humorous effect of the punchline.  Without the intuitive feeling the reader will have to draw a connection to understand that the first three lines were meant to imply sugar, rather than simply experiencing humor with the punchline.  The idea of an intuitive feeling can be important in many poems.

The fourth line introduces a surprise both to the reader of the poem and to the person in the poem.  The line also introduces a mystery to the reader of why the drinker was floored.

The fifth line is the punchline of the joke and solves the mystery of the fourth line.

Another aspect of the poem is that although it is about sugar and salt, sugar is not actually mentioned in the poem.  Sugar is hinted at by the black tea, the white can and the crystals, but it is never mentioned.