Poem with an explanation: picking up stones

walking along
picking up stones
wondering why the bag
is so heavy


This poem is about the idea that a person can be their own cause of harm without intention or even knowing it.  A person can think they are doing something benign, or even something good, but in fact, their actions are to their detriment.


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.

Poem with an explanation: the same five things

Sitting there,
staring at the list,
the same five things,
the same five things.

and other things profound,
the same five things,
the same five things.

Looking in the mirror,
not understanding why,
running through the logic,
not making any sense.

a path,
a mountain.

at the starting line,
for the whole race,
so far.

The same five things,
the same five things.


This poem is about a person and their goals.  The person in the poem has had the same five goals for years.  They haven’t made any progress on them.

In the first stanza, the person looks at a list of their goals.  They stare at it and realize that the list contains the same five goals it has always had.  This hits the person.

In the second stanza, the person contemplates the time that has passed.  They start to think about it and then their mind wanders off into profound thoughts about their life and time.  They come back though and realize they haven’t made any progress on their goals.

In the third stanza, they take stock of themselves and they can’t understand why they haven’t achieved anything.  They try to think through completing their goals logically, but the fact that they haven’t, doesn’t make sense to them.

In the fourth stanza, the person thinks that completing their goals should be simple.  They think of it as a matter of cause and effect.  This is countered with the reality of the complexity they have faced when trying to complete their goals.  They were expecting to walk a path, but instead they feel like they have been trying to climb a mountain.

In the fifth stanza, the person feels like they haven’t achieved anything at all.

In the sixth stanza, the person is left thinking about the same five goals.

Poem with an explanation: 1320

the statue crumbles

across the desert
in the distance
nothing is seen

the car rolls
on square tires

before the gate
floats in the mind

the pieces of stone
are in a pile
of 1320 pieces


This poem is about a person who is not physically fit, trying to become so.  On their first day of exercise they decide to jog.

In the first stanza of the poem, the person jogs a quarter of a mile.  A quarter of a mile is 1320 feet.  This is too much for the person and they become spent (the statue crumbles).

The person is very tired after this short distance.  They decide that they should go back home.  In the second stanza, they look back at the distance they have to go.

Although before they jogged, they thought a quarter of a mile was a short distance to traverse, now it seems very far.  They feel like they are looking out over a desert and are unable to see their destination.

In the third stanza, the person starts to walk home.  They are experiencing physical discomfort after the jog and they have trouble walking.  They move slowly like a car with square tires.  They feel all of the quarter mile.

In the fourth stanza, the person is home.  As they stand by their front door, they gain a new perspective on distance.  They think of 60 mph, which is the speed a car might travel.  This is 316800 feet an hour.  They think of this distance, and how it feels like nothing, and how the 1320 feet of the quarter mile feels like a lot.

In the last stanza, the person sits down on the floor of their house in the air conditioning.  They are tired after the jog.  The distance has become part of them.

Poem with an explanation: Happiness again

Behind the bars,
looking out,
listening for a sound.

  Behind the bars,
  looking in,
  sitting in the silence.

The door opens,
eyes look up,
with hope.

  The door opens,
  eyes look down,
  in the emptiness.

Waiting each day,
seeing joy,
waiting for the turn.

  Waiting each day,
  seeing sadness,
  with nothing to wait for.

    Having a thought.


    Having a thought.


    Time passes.


    Taking a step.


Behind the bars,
looking out,
seeing the face.

  In front of the bars,
  looking in,
  seeing the face.

Happiness again.


This poem is about a person and a dog.  The person recently had their dog die and the dog in the poem is in an animal shelter.

The poem has stanzas with alternating focus for the most part (although how that is applied changes in the poem).  For the first six stanzas, the odd stanzas are from the perspective of the dog and the even stanzas are from the perspective of the person.

In the first stanza (Behind the bars, looking out, listening for a sound), the dog is in a cage at the shelter.  It is looking outside the cage bars hoping someone will come for it.

In the second stanza (Behind the bars, looking in, sitting in the silence), the person is alone at home.  Their dog has died and they are sad.  Their house feels like a prison (Behind the bars) and they are feeling loneliness.

In the third stanza (The door opens, eyes look up, with hope), the dog hears someone come into the shelter.  They look up hoping the person will pick them.

In the fourth stanza (The door opens, eyes look down, in the emptiness), the person opens the door to a room where their dog was.  The look down because they are sad because they are sad their dog is no longer there.

In the fifth stanza (Waiting each day, seeing joy, waiting for the turn), the dog in the shelter waits for someone to get it.  It sees the happiness of other dogs that are picked and it waits for its turn.

In the sixth stanza (Waiting each day, seeing sadness, with nothing to wait for), the person waits to feel better, but they are sad, and they feel like they have nothing to wait for because their dog is gone.

The first six stanzas follow a pattern.  They are grouped as pairs.  In each pair (stanzas 1 and 2, stanzas 3 and 4, and stanzas 5 and 6), the first line is the same and the second lines start with the same word and then have an opposite word (out/in, up/down, joy/sadness).  All the stanzas are three lines.

Stanzas seven through fourteen are the next set of stanzas.  In this set, the person’s perspective is shown in the odd stanzas, and the dog’s perspective is shown in the even.

In stanza seven, the person has the first thought of getting another dog.  In the eighth stanza, the dog waits.  In the ninth stanza, the person thinks of this more.  In the tenth stanza, the dog waits.  In the eleventh stanza, time passes.  In the twelfth stanza, the dog waits.  In the thirteenth stanza, the person goes to the shelter.  In the fourteenth stanza, the dog waits.

In stanzas seven through fourteen, the stanzas for the dog are all the same.

The next set of stanzas are stanzas fifteen and sixteen.

Stanza fifteen parallels stanza one, and has the same first two lines.  In this stanza (Behind the bars, looking out, seeing the face), the dog sees the person who has come to get it.

In the sixteenth stanza (In front of the bars, looking in, seeing the face), the person stands and sees the dog.  This stanza has the same second line as stanza two.

The last stanza is a combination of perspectives.  It shows the dog and person are happy again.

Poem with an explanation: the weight of sand

Looking in the sand,
and seeing,
the imaginary reality,
for all the suns,
and all the moons.

Standing there,
silently speaking,
reflecting on sand,
and wondering.

In the corner,
a tally is made,
in the thoughts,
an inverse of worth.

The equation is simple,
so the figures say,
reduce x,
increase y,
reduce z.
Adding the numbers,
the answer doesn’t match.

In the cave,
thinking of sand,
and wondering if,
someone else,
will ever be there.


This poem is about a person struggling with their weight.  It is about the negative feelings a person can have as they have this struggle.  It is about the emotions a person can go through as they stand in the bathroom, look at themselves in the mirror, and weigh themselves on a scale.

At the start of the poem, the person looks in the mirror (Looking in the sand), and sees their reflection (and seeing).  The image they see is real, in the sense that it is what they really look like, but it is also distorted by their perception of themselves (the imaginary reality).  They have stood in front of the mirror on a regular basis for years (for all the suns, and all the moons) and looked at themselves like this.

The person stands in front of the mirror (Standing there), and they talk to themselves aloud.  They see their reflection speaking even though it isn’t making a sound (silently speaking).  They talk about how long they have been overweight (reflecting on sand – sand representing time and their image in the mirror), and they wonder if they will ever be able to change how they are (and wondering).

The person is in a bathroom.  In the corner (In the corner), there is a scale.  The person weighs themselves (a tally is made) and the person feels that the higher their weight the less their worth (in the thoughts, and inverse of worth).

As the person steps off of the scale, they think of the often repeated advice (The equation is simple, so the figures say): eat less (reduce x), move more (increase y), and weight will go down (reduce z).  The person thinks of their reality where they have done this (Adding the numbers), and thinks about how it hasn’t worked for them (the answer doesn’t match).

The person stands against their bathroom door (In the cave), and they think of time and how their reflection looks in the mirror (thinking of sand), and they wonder if (and wondering if) they will ever change how they are (someone else, will ever be there).


If you like poems with explanations, please consider purchasing a copy of M. Sakran’s self-published eBook, Understanding: poems with explanations.  It contains 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.

Understanding: poems with explanations is available for a current price of $0.99 (plus tax where applicable).  It is also available in currencies other than the U.S. dollar.  It can be purchased with British Pounds, Euros (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), Japanese Yen, Brazilian Reals, Canadian Dollars, Mexican Pesos, Australian Dollars and Indian Rupees.


Poem with an explanation: the traveler sees

the color changes
as the bridge repairs itself
the traveler sees


This poem is a 5-7-5 haiku.

This poem is about physical healing.  It is about a person healing from a small burn.

In the poem, a person has burned their hand.  It has changed colored and is dark purple and almost black.

As times goes (when the poem starts), the person starts to heal.  The color changes and the person’s skin repairs itself.  The person notices this and takes note of it each day.

The idea of the poem is to look at a passive experience.  The traveler in the poem (the person who burned themselves), watches as something happens to themselves.  Their body is doing something, and they are an onlooker to it.  This is an unusual idea to think about.  The person’s body is doing something, but they are not consciously involved.

This idea could be applied to a variety of both good and bad situations.  A good situation might be an athlete who does something amazing without thought.  A bad situation might be a person being affected by a disease.  In both cases, the person’s body is experiencing something apart from their consciousness.

Poem with an explanation: the mirror of many years ago

looking into the mirror
of many years ago
and wishing to speak
so the words would be different


This poem is about the idea of a person talking to their past self.  It is based off of the thought that people sometimes have where they wonder what they would tell their past self so that their current life would be different than it is.

In the poem, the person is looking at a photograph of themselves.  The photograph is “the mirror of many years ago” in the poem.  When a person looks at a photograph of themselves, it is like they are looking into a mirror, except the image is from the past.

As the person looks at themselves, they wish they could give their past self advice (and wishing to speak).  They want to give their past self advice so that their current situation would be different.  In other words, they would tell their past self to make different decisions than they themselves actually did.

If the person were able to do this, and their past self took the advice, then they would be currently living a different life.  If that were so, the words they would say to their past self when they look at their photograph would be different than the words that they said at this time (so the words would be different).  They wouldn’t be giving their past self advice, at least they hope, rather they would be telling their past self that they made the right decisions.

This poem is about looking back on the past and wishing it were somehow different.

Poem with an explanation: Which way is the way?

Which way is the way,
to speak words of what was lost,
and see what was found?


This poem is a 5-7-5 haiku.  It is about losing weight.

The poem asks a question.  It is asking how to lose weight.  In a direct way, it would say, “How does a person lose weight and find better health?”

In the first line of the poem, there is a play on words.  The word “way” is used because it sounds like “weigh”.  In the next two lines there is a play on the words “lost” and “found”.  The idea is that a person is looking for something, like they might be looking for in a lost and found.  Rather though, than trying to find a lost thing, the person is wanting to know how to lose something (weight) to find something (better health).

Poem with an explanation: now free?

Twenty one steps,
now free?


the piers,
the waves press.

    The dolphins laugh.

and line.

    Fishing poles



This poem is about a person turning twenty one and being legally allowed to drink.  The poem examines the supposed freedom the person has.

In terms of form, this poem uses the form Twenty Words.

The poem has a water theme.  In the poem, a person walks to the water.  The person goes Twenty one steps to get there.  This symbolizes the twenty one years the person has journeyed to get to this point.

The poem then asks the question now free?  In the poem, the person believes they are free.  They are now legally allowed to drink.  They are no longer constrained by a prohibition.  The poem questions this freedom.

The poem tells the person in the poem to Look.  The idea is for the person to open their eyes metaphorically and see reality.  The idea is for the person to see what is really going on around them.

The next two lines indicate what the person should look at.  They say, the piers, the waves press.  First, this continues the water theme.  The person is at the end of a pier and the waves are pressing.  Second, the lines are a play on the words peer pressure.  In this case, the words are represented by piers press.

The idea of these lines is for the person to see the peer pressure around them.  Rather than being free to drink or not, the person is in a situation where their peers expect them to drink.  In some sense, it has transcended expectation, in that expectation is an action.  Their peers simply take it for granted that the person will drink.

The person, while believing they have the freedom of choice, is really in a situation where they are pressured, and expected, to behave in a certain way.  Before they were not allowed to drink; now they are expected to.

The next line of the poem says The dolphins laugh.  In the poem, the person’s peers appear happy, with their drinking and partying, but underneath problems exist.  They are not as happy as they appear.  This is similar to a dolphin, which can look like it is smiling, despite its emotions.

The next lines show the reality.  Although the dolphins are laughing, they are caught.  They are caught by drinking, peer pressure and the effects of both.  Though they are smiling, they are like a fish on a Hook and line.  They are being reeled in by a culture of expected drinking such that the Fishing poles shook.

The idea of the poem is to examine the idea of freedom.  It looks at a situation where a person was prohibited from an action and then that action was allowed.  Although the person might have thought they were entering a situation of choice, where they could choose the action or not, they really entered a situation where the action was expected.  They went from being restricted from not doing something, to being restricted to doing it.  A similar idea could apply to other situations besides drinking.