Poem with an explanation: steps

walking in circles
around the driveway
neighbors watch
and don’t understand

counting the circles
doing the math
letting the mind wander
as the steps continue

at times
it feels pointless
many journeys
to a beginning

at times
when there is less
and then less
and then less
and then less
there’s a point

 

This poem is about a person walking to lose weight.  The person has a pedometer and is counting their steps each day to reach a daily goal so they can lose weight.

In the first stanza, the person walks repeatedly around their driveway in a loop.  This seems odd to their neighbors.

In the second stanza, the person tries to take their mind off what they are doing, to help it go faster, all the while realizing that as they are trying not to think about it, they are continuing to walk.

In the third stanza, the person does feel strange doing all this walking without some sort of tangible result.  They are not walking for work for example or to reach a location.

In the fourth stanza, as the person continues to lose weight they understand the point of what they are doing.

Post Series: Advent: Poem with an explanation: they kept the day

the pillows changed
from brown to red
the throw from yellow to green

the plants were changed
for evergreens
with berries that could be seen

a chicken cooked
with leaves of sage
and potatoes in a pot

a pie was baked
with orange yams
just the way they had been taught

a drill was bought
a sweater too
both placed within birthday bags

a truck with wheels
a brand new doll
in blue boxes with no tags

the day did come
and none did leave
no words outside were spoken

they kept the day
beneath the lights
so faith would not be broken

 

This poem is about celebrating Christmas in an oppressive society.  The society has rejected Christmas and its observance.  People who observe Christmas are ostracized.  In the poem, a family celebrates Christmas in a hidden way.

The poem sounds nice.  It seems to show a celebration.  In each stanza though, an element of the hidden nature of the celebration is shown.

In the first stanza, the family can’t decorate for Christmas with traditional decorations.  Instead, they change the throw pillows on their sofa from brown to red and change the throw on their sofa from yellow to green.

In the second stanza, the family is afraid to put up a Christmas tree.  Instead they change out their house plants for evergreens with berries.

Rather than cooking a turkey or a ham on Christmas, the family cooks chicken in the third stanza.  They flavor it with sage to get a sense of the traditional taste.  They are fearful of having a big meal, and only cook potatoes as a side.

In the fourth stanza, rather than making a traditional pumpkin pie, the family makes one with yams.  As the oppression has being going on for some time, the recipe is one they had been taught.

In the fifth stanza, the adults buy gifts for one another.  They only buy one each and put them in birthday bags rather than wrapping them with Christmas paper.

In the sixth stanza, the children are bought presents.  Again they get only one each, and they are put in boxes that are blue, which isn’t a Christmas color.

In the seventh stanza, Christmas day comes.  The family does not leave their house to visit relatives or to go to a church service.  When they do see someone they don’t say merry Christmas (no words outside were spoken).

In the eighth stanza, a summary is given of the family’s activities.  They kept the day beneath the lights of oppressive scrutiny in a hidden way so faith would not be broken.

Although modern society isn’t oppressive this way, there are signs of the secularization of Christmas.  Many ads for example reference “holidays” rather than “Christmas”.  The same occurs with company and organizational observances.  There is a “holiday party” rather than a “Christmas” one.

As any belief means something is not believed there will always be those who either disagree with the belief or who don’t feel the belief should be overtly expressed because others might disagree with it.  It is covering over a belief either because of secularization or political correctness.

The poem shows a society that takes this idea to a farther point.  Instead of covering over Christmas, the society feels it is bad.  As some disagree with the Christmas observance, the society has developed a culture of disdaining the observance.  It has gone from Christmas to “Holiday” to nothing to seeing the observance as something negative.  It sees the observance as bad and sees those who participate in the observance as bad as well.

The poem shows a family that tries to observe Christmas under these circumstances.  They try to observe it in a hidden way to keep the tradition but also not to face backlash.

In terms of form, the stanzas have a syllable count of 4-4-7.  The stanzas are in pairs with the last lines of each pair rhyming.

Post Series: Advent: Poem with an explanation: Christmas gift ideas

Are you having a difficult time thinking of Christmas gifts to buy for the people in your life?  The following poem can help.  It provides (in poem form) eleven categories of gifts that you can use to come up with ideas.  (After the poem, the gift categories are laid out more explicitly.  That is what makes this a poem with an explanation.)

The first gift,
is really as basic,
as the food you eat.

The second gift,
like the first,
is consumed,
but in a different way.

The third gift,
is the standard,
upon the person’s flag.

The fourth gift,
should be interesting.

The fifth gift,
eventful.

The sixth gift,
should express a sentiment.

The seventh gift,
follows money.

The eight gift,
fulfills a request.

The ninth gift,
requires action.

The tenth gift,
comes from the hands.

The eleventh gift,
takes things to a new level.

 

Each stanza above expresses a gift category that you can use to think of a gift to buy a person.

The first gift category is food.  Food makes an excellent gift because everyone eats and it is easy to get something gourmet or something in a fancy package that can make something simple be more like a gift.

The second gift is that of a consumable.  A consumable is something a person uses up.  This could be anything from office supplies to things for their pet.  The idea is to buy a person something they use up on a regular basis.

The third gift is a standard gift.  A standard gift can fit a gender or a profession.  As an example, some standard gifts for men might be: ties, shoes, suits, briefcases, tools, sports items, outdoor items, shaving items, cologne, car items, and grilling items.

The fourth gift is something related to an interest a person has.  For example, if a person likes golf, some gifts might be: golf balls, golf tees, golf clothes, golf gloves, golf bags, golf lessons, and golf clubs.

The fifth gift is an event.  Rather than giving a person a thing, you can give them an experience.  This could be something like tickets to a sporting event or paying for them to take a class.

The sixth gift is something sentimental.  This could be something personalized with the person’s name, something with an image important to the person, or something from the person’s past.

The seventh gift is to buy a person something they buy themselves.  The idea here is that if a person buys something, they like it.  If you buy them something similar, they might like it too.

The eighth gift is to buy a person something they asked for.  A person might have explicitly said they wanted something, or they may have mentioned it or an idea related to it in passing.

The ninth gift is to do something for a person.  This could be something like mowing their lawn or fixing something they have that is broken.

The tenth gift is to give the person something you make.  This could be anything from cookies, to a scarf, to furniture.

The eleventh gift is to upgrade something a person has.  You can buy a person a better version of something they already own.

These categories cover just something things you could buy a person as a Christmas gift.  There are of course more.  These are just a starting point that you can use if you have trouble thinking of what to buy a person.

As a side note, if you know someone who likes poetry, you might consider buying them M. Sakran’s published collection of poetry, First Try.  It contains poems on a variety of topics.  Someone who likes poetry could enjoy it. (It would also make M. Sakran quite happy if you gave someone the collection as a gift.)

Post Series: Advent: Poem with an explanation: and waiting alone

making the list
ordering online
receiving the boxes
wrapping them
putting the tags
leaving part blank
putting them under the tree
and waiting alone

 

In this poem a lonely person buys themselves Christmas gifts.  The person goes through steps.  They make a list of what they want, they order the gifts online, they receive the boxes, and they wrap them.  When the person puts name tags on the gifts they leave the “From” blank.  They are afraid that if someone does happen come by that they will see that they bought gifts for themselves.  They don’t want this to happen, so they leave the “From” blank so it will look like they received the gifts.  They then put the gifts under their Christmas tree and they wait alone until Christmas to unwrap them.

This poem shows a lonely person trying to have some feeling of the holiday.  They could have bought themselves things and just had them, but they decided to wrap the items to feel like they got gifts.

The person is self-conscious of their behavior though and hides what they are doing to a degree by leaving the “From” spaces blank on the tags.  This is for the reason mentioned above, but also because the person just feels lonelier when they acknowledge what they are doing.  Not having the “From” helps them to ignore their reality some.

As an aside, if any readers know anyone who might be spending Christmas alone this year, do something for them.  Send them an email.  Send a note on social media.  Send a card.  Send a gift.  If possible, see if the person wants to visit you on Christmas if that is possible.  Help the person not have the circumstances in the poem.

Post Series: Advent: Poem with an explanation: the gift was seen

seemingly thoughtless
and seemingly cheap
harsh words were spoken
on the bright morning

with reluctance
the ladder was climbed

summer nights
the bird did call
and in the yard
in the panic
the gift was seen

 

In this poem a person gets a gift that they don’t like that later proves to be important.

In the poem a person gives another person a smoke alarm as a Christmas present.  The receiver of the gift thinks it is a bad gift.  They see it as thoughtless and cheap.  They say harsh words to the giver of the gift on Christmas morning (the bright morning).

After some time, reluctantly, the receiver of the gift installs the smoke alarm (the ladder was climbed).

During the following summer the smoke alarm goes off at night as the house the receiver is in catches on fire (the bird did call).  They are awoken by the alarm and run out into their yard panicking.  At that moment, as their house is burning but their life was saved, they see the value of the gift they were given (their life) (the gift was seen).

Post Series: Advent: Poem with an explanation: Political Correctness

Even if others
deem it politically incorrect,
say, “Merry Christmas”.

This poem looks at the notion of “Happy Holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas” and takes a position.  The idea of the poem is presented clearly: Even if others deem it politically incorrect, say, “Merry Christmas”.  The poem says to take a stand for a belief even if others disagree.

Poem with an explanation: scrub, scrub, scrub

In the morning,
scrub, scrub, scrub.

In the evening,
scrub, scrub, scrub.

The blemish remains.

 

This is a poem about a person dealing with guilt.  Symbolically, it is described as a person trying to get rid of a blemish on their skin.

The person goes to repeated (morning and evening) and extensive lengths (scrub, scrub, scrub) to get rid of the blemish.  This represents the person trying to get rid of the guilt they have.  The scrubbing is their mental attempts to deal with what they have done.  They try to “scrub” it so that it doesn’t seem so bad and so that it will go away.  They don’t succeed though.  The guilt they have remains.

Poem with an explanation: disillusionment

The commercial said
use the machine
 just a few minutes
 just a few days
 just a few weeks
and everything
yes everything
would change.

Well,
six months later
and who knows how many hours
and unfortunately,
the after photo
looks like the before.

 

In this poem a person is disillusioned with a piece of exercise equipment.

In the first stanza, they mention the claim of the commercial for the equipment.  They talk about how the commercial claimed that a small amount of effort (the repeat of the word just) could lead to a large change in their life (the emphasis on everything).

In the second stanza, after a large amount of effort (months and hours instead of minutes and days), the person has seen little change (their after photo looks like their before photo, unlike in the commercial where the after photo looked dramatically different from the before photo).  This is what causes their disillusionment.

Poem with an explanation: How is the sky?

They sky is cloudy,
there in the east,
see the darkness,
the weather is bad.

The sky is clear,
there in the west,
see the light,
the weather is good.

 

This poem is about presenting a point of view.  In the poem, there are two people.  One person says the first stanza and the other person says the second.

In the poem, both people are telling the truth, but they are each giving only one view of it and are therefore distorting the truth.  The first person wants those listening to think the weather is bad.  The second person, wants people to think the weather is good.

The idea in this poem applies to many arguments.  In arguments, people sometimes have a tendency to present a view of the truth that supports their position, while ignoring views that don’t.

Poem with an explanation: waiting for one

waiting for one
the oranges hide
from the thought of expression

 

This poem is about jack-o-lanterns on Halloween.

In the poem, pumpkins (oranges) are hiding.  They don’t want to be turned into jack-o-lanterns (the thought of expression – jack-o-lanterns have faces that express an emotion).  They are waiting until November first (waiting for one) at which point no one will want them for jack-o-lanterns anymore.

Although this poem focuses on a silly idea, the ideas could be applied to other situations.  Think, for example, of a person hoping a meeting or class or something else ends before they are called upon.  They are waiting for a time to pass so they won’t have to speak.  It could be they are nervous or afraid to do so.  The general idea is the same.