Experimental Poetry Form: Twenty one word lines

Today’s experimental poetry form is called twenty one word lines.  It consists of twenty lines, each with one word.  The idea of the form was inspired by the poem in the post from March 8, 2019.  That poem was a train of thought poem that had nineteen lines, with most being one word.

Although the form could be used to create a train of thought poem (where one idea leads to the next like with word association), it could also be used to write out a sentence or something else.

Here is an example poem that is a train of thought poem:


Some train of thought poems, like the one above, just lead off.  They have no circularity.  Some train of thought poems, like the one from the March 8th post, do have a circularity.  There are other effects as well.

Here is another example poem.  This one is one sentence broken up:


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: statues

The statue sat,
there upon stones,
with eyes open,
hoping to hear.

The statue sat,
there upon cushions,
with eyes closed,
hoping to ignore.


This poem is about homelessness.  The poem has two stanzas, each with four lines.  Each line has three words.  The stanzas are the same except for the end words of lines two, three and four.

The first stanza is about a homeless man.  He is sitting outside of a fast food restaurant (The statue sat) on concrete (there upon stones).  He is looking inside the restaurant (with eyes open) hoping someone will beckon him inside for some food (hoping to hear).

The second stanza is about a man in the restaurant.  He is sitting (The statue sat), upon a seat cushion (there upon cushions).  He can see the homeless man, but is trying not to look at him (with eyes closed).  He is trying to feel like he doesn’t see the homeless man (hoping to ignore).

The poem contrasts two very similar images.

P. S. Just a reminder, if you like poems with explanations, please consider purchasing a copy of M. Sakran’s eBook, Understanding: poems with explanations.

Experimental Poetry Form: ten two word lines

This experimental poetry form is called ten two word lines.  The name describes it.  There are ten lines, each with two words.  The line length and total number of words is low, but the number of lines is high.  The idea is to see how these contrasting form elements effect the presentation of the poem.

Here is an example poem:

Sitting there,
sign up,
looking on,
cars passing,
none looking,
none stopping,
wondering if,
all think,
bold words,
are lies.

Poem with an explanation: For the night

A blue plastic tarp,
hung over the rope.
Red flannel is buttoned,
as shoes push soil,
there below the bridge.


This poem has a few elements in its explanation.

First, the poem is about homelessness.  It describes a scene.  A homeless person is making their camp in the grass beneath a bridge.

The first two lines describe the person making their shelter – they are making a crude tent.

The third line describes the person protecting themselves from the cold.  It is as if the person is going through whatever motions they can to keep warm.  In this instance, they button their shirt.

The fourth line describes the person making their bed.  Their bed is just the place beneath the tent where the person cleared the soil away with their feet.

The last line gives the location and is meant to make clear the point that this is the scene of a homeless person.  The person is camping under a bridge.

In a second element, this poem was inspired by the Artwork to inspire poetry: The purple flower.  The flower is purple.  In the poem, the colors blue and red are mentioned.  Blue and red mixed together are purple.  Also, in the poem, the man is going to sleep in the soil.  Just like a flower seed or bulb would be put in the soil.  Lastly, the artwork has a flat appearance.  The man is going to lie down flat and sleep.

In a third element, this poem uses the Experimental Poetry Form: Five right aligned lines.  As the form stipulates, there are five lines, the lines are right aligned, and each line has four words.

In a fourth element, this poem is a good (although not perfect) example of the type of poem that can be sent in for consideration.  Currently, as readers should know, readers can each send a poem to M. Sakran for consideration.  M. Sakran will read the poems and may choose one to publish on this blog.  Please see the Considerations page for more information about sending in a poem for consideration.

Some reasons this poem is a good example of what can be sent in are:

  It’s a poem (as opposed to something else).

  It uses the categories of Artwork Inspiration and Experimental Poetry Form as a basis.

  It contains no first person personal pronouns, foul language, real brand names nor names of real people or businesses without their consent.

  It was not published anywhere else before.

  It is not going to be sent anywhere for consideration.

  M. Sakran does have the copyright to the poem.

  The poem is short.

  The poem has no outside references (references to specific things not explained in the poem).

  To a degree the poem “hits”.  In some respect, this quality is not as strong as it could be, but it is there at least to a point.  The poem does lack a little contrast for this quality.

  The poem isn’t too obscure.  The scene is described well enough that a reader can understand what is going on.  There is a little obscurity to it, but not too much.

  The poem references a social issue.  It describes an aspect of a person’s condition.  As far as saying something about humanity or society, this poem comes close in this respect.  It could actually have more of an insight to it.

  The line breaks make sense.

  The poem uses more than one category from the blog.

  The poem does not have a complex structure laid out on the page.

  The poem does have form elements from the use of an experimental poetry form.

  The poem isn’t too personal.

  The poem isn’t too controversial.

  The poem does reach a conclusion.

If you would like to send a poem to M. Sakran for Consideration, please go to the Considerations page for more information.

Post Series: Poems with Explanations: The burial of Sarah

In the cold ground the form did lay,
so still and calm as snow did fall,
and there one said some words that night,

          as stars did shine above so bright.

And words did roam to find a place,
and one was said that fit the sight,

          as stars did shine above so bright.

And in the cold as darkness came,
some tears did fall for one now known,
and there one stood and felt the plight,

          as stars did shine above so bright.


This poem is about the burial of a homeless woman.  The woman died of illness, and a homeless man, who was near her when she died, is burying her.

In the first stanza, the woman is in the ground before she is covered with dirt.  It is quiet and cold and snow is falling.  By the grave, a man is standing and saying some type of words.  It is night.  There is a refrain after this that mentions the stars in the sky above.

In the stanza after the refrain, the man standing by the grave saying some words, finds a problem.  He does not know the name of the woman he is burying.  He wants to say her name with his words.  As he searches for a name in his mind, he looks at her in the grave, and decides that Sarah fits the way she looks.  He names her this as he says more words.  After this, there is a refrain about the stars in the sky.

After the second refrain, the next stanza starts with the man pushing dirt onto Sarah.  He starts to cry.  He did not know Sarah, but since he has named her, he feels a connection to her and feels a sadness at her death.  He feels a pain at the circumstances that caused Sarah to die the way she did and led to her having to be buried in a field by someone she didn’t know.  After this is a refrain about the stars in the sky above.

This poem is about one person burying another person whom they don’t know.  In the process, they find it necessary to give the person they are burying a name.

This poem uses the experimental poetry form Refrains, that was posted on this blog on July 22, 2016.  The description of the form can be read from the post.

In this poem, there is a certain ambiguity.  What is happening in the scene is referred to in a poetic way, rather than directly (with the exception of the title).  This reflects the situation of the man in the poem.  He is burying someone he does not know.  He decides it is right to give this person a name.  He didn’t feel a person should be buried nameless.  The man is expressing a feeling, emotion and idea, but there is a struggle to it.  This is reflected in the style of the poem.

In the poem, each of the stanzas has a somewhat depressing quality.  Even without knowing what the poem is about, the quality should come through.  The refrains though, are the opposite.  The first stanza, for example, mentions cold ground, a form laying in it, and night.  The refrain then mentions shining bright stars.  This contrast was reflective of the situation.

The poem shows a depressing scene: a homeless woman died outside in the cold night because of illness.  She was alone except for a nearby man who didn’t know her.  There was no one to help her and no one to bury her properly.

Despite this though, there is a goodness in the poem: the man.  The man couldn’t help Sarah before she died, but he did what he could afterwards.  He buries her, says some words that he feels will be respectful of her life and do something for her, and he gives her a name.  The actions of this man are reflected in the bright shining stars.


Do you like poems with explanations?

M. Sakran’s self-published book of poems with explanations called Understanding: poems with explanations is available for purchase as an eBook for an available price of $0.99. Buy your copy today!

To help celebrate the self-publication of this book, there is a post series of poems with explanations on the blog.  Above is a poem with an explanation for the series.  This poem with an explanation (as well as the rest in the series) is not from the book.  It is a different one that is part of this post series for readers to read and enjoy.

Poem with an explanation: How long did the falling take?

How long did the falling take?
Down a hill?
From a cliff?
How long did the falling take?


This poem utilizes the experimental poetry form Eighteen Words.  As can be seen, the poem has eighteen words.  Additional form elements particular to this use of the form are:

  • The first and last lines repeat.
  • All lines are questions.
  • The first and last lines each have six words. That is twice the number of words as each of the middle two lines.

This poem is about trying to understand something.  In the poem, one person is asking these questions of another.  The person asking the questions wants to understand what something was like.  The something in the poem is some sort of low state in someone’s life.  This low state could be many things.  It could for example be homelessness or addiction.  The person asking the questions is trying to understand how this state was reached.  Did it happen slowly, like falling down a hill, or did it happen quickly, like falling from a cliff?  The person asking the questions is not intending to be inquisitive or rude, they just want some sense of understanding.

Poem: When she stood at the door

When she stood at the door,
as she paused before going inside,
she thought of the past that she had lived,
and what happened before.

As she paused before going inside,
she thought of sleeping in her car,
and what happened before,
the day she was laid off.

She thought of sleeping in her car,
five months after,
the day she was laid off,
because she couldn’t pay her debt,

Five months after,
she first had to sleep in her car,
because she couldn’t pay her debt,
she had to sell it.

She first had to sleep in her car,
with a coat for warmth –
she had to sell it,
when she needed food.

With a coat for warmth,
she could walk to the shelter,
when she needed food,
for there was nowhere else to go.

She could walk to the shelter,
but then she had to live there,
for there was nowhere else to go,
no place she could afford.

“But then she had to live there”,
she remembered the day,
“no place she could afford”,
she remembered the feeling.

She remembered the day,
they said they found her a job,
she remembered the feeling,
when they didn’t call.

They said they found her a job,
she thought they would call and tell her no,
when they didn’t call,
she was amazed.

She thought they would call and tell her no,
when she sent her application,
she was amazed,
when they said she could have the apartment.

When she sent her application,
she had little hope.
When they said she could have the apartment,
she was overwhelmed.

She had little hope,
when all this started.
She was overwhelmed,
when she stood at the door.


P.S. As a note, there will be no blog post tomorrow, April 10, 2015, on M. Sakran’s blog of and about poetry and poetry related things.