A photograph to inspire poetry: a woodpecker near a hole in a tree

a woodpecker near a hole in a tree

Above is a photograph of a woodpecker near a hole in a tree.  It can inspire poetry.  Here is a poem inspired by it:

what’s the focus here,
might depend on perspective

is it
the woodpecker
searching for food?

is it
what the woodpecker’s searching for
hiding?

is it
the tree
that has a hole?

is it
the leaves
that somehow got there?

is it
the rest of the tree
that isn’t shown?

it might depend
on perspective

Poetry topic idea: cleaning

Today’s poetry topic idea is cleaning.  There are a number of ways a poet could write about cleaning.  A poet could write about:

  • Cleaning a building.
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  • Cleaning workers.
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  • Spring cleaning.
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  • Cleaning metaphorically.
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  • Sanitizing.
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  • Cleaning an object.
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  • Clean as a metaphor for being off drugs.
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  • Clean in a medical sense.
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  • Clean as in containing no objectionable content.
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  • Cleaning up a town (as might be seen in an old western).

 

Here is a poem using the idea of cleaning:

they thought the staff
was overpaid
until the staff left
and they themselves
had to do the work

Poem with an explanation: the hill, the valley, and the mountain

the hill
did look down
on the valley
and chastised it
for being so low

the wind blew
the rain fell

the mountain
looked toward the sky

 

This poem is about care for the elderly and perspective.  It is about relative positions in life.

In the poem there are three people: the valley, the hill, and the mountain.  The valley represents the elderly person.  The hill represents the adult child of the elderly person.  The mountain represents the child of the adult child.  This is three generations.

In the poem, the adult child is frustrated with their elderly parent.  They look down on them and chastise them for their physical incapability.  They can’t understand why the elderly person can’t be like themselves.

The adult child is oblivious to the progression of life.  In the poem there are three stages: a mountain, a hill, and a valley.  As a mountain erodes it becomes a hill.  As a hill erodes, it becomes a valley.  The adult child is criticizing their elderly parent for their physical incapability, not realizing they are moving in the same direction.  They don’t see their own erosion (represented by the wind and rain).  They don’t see where they’ve been, and they aren’t realizing where they are going.  They don’t realize they will be elderly someday, and therefore they don’t have compassion on someone who is elderly.

The mountain, representing the person in the third generation, has their focus somewhere else.  They don’t see the hill or the valley.  This shows that they are oblivious both to the treatment of their elderly relative, and of the reality that they will one day be in that position.  They don’t see the future implications for themselves.  They are concerned with other things.

It can sometimes occur in the care of the elderly, that the caregiver doesn’t see themselves in the one they care for.  They don’t see that they too will be in that position.  It can also be the case that younger generations are concerned about other things and don’t see the actions of caregivers or the condition of the elderly.  The poem is meant to highlight these things.

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.

Bilingual Poem: perspective

standing,
by the old house,
with an elderly man,
the young man,
took pictures of,
the old house,
for fear,
it would not be there,
much longer

 

estando de pie,
cerca de la casa vieja,
con un hombre mayor,
el hombre joven,
sacó fotografías de,
la casa vieja,
por miedo,
lo no está existir,
mucho más tiempo

Poetry topic idea: perspective

Today’s poetry topic idea is perspective.  If a poet writes a poem from a person’s point of view, the idea of perspective can be influential, although in the background.

Sometimes, a poet might be writing about a detached event, such as rain.  The poet might write that the rain is either positive or negative, depending on how they themselves, or the subject of their poem, views the rain.  For example, a poet writing about a farmer, might describe rain positively, whereas, a poet writing about someone participating in an outdoor event, might describe rain negatively.

In other instances, there are two parties and some connected event.  Think about two people arguing over something.  The something might be the same, but each person views it differently.  There are many situations where two people can be involved in something and see it differently.  Imagine a situation for example, where one person gives a gift, that the receiver of the gift resents.  The gift giver thought they were doing something good, but the receiver saw it as bad.

Interestingly, a poet might not realize that they are applying perspective in their poetry.  They might not realize that they are writing about something from a certain point of view.

Some ideas for using perspective in poetry might be:

  • A poet could write a pair of poems, one poem looking at something from one perspective and the other poem looking at it from the other. For example, a poet could write about a wedding.  They might write one poem where someone at the wedding viewed the marriage positively and another poem where someone viewed it negatively.
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  • A poet could find a poem they previously wrote, examine it for perspective, and write a new poem from a different perspective. For example, a poet might find a poem they wrote where they describe the weather negatively.  They might think about someone who experienced the same weather, but saw it positively.  They could write a poem from their perspective.
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  • A poet could try to write a new poem from a perspective that they don’t have. For example, they could write about a political issue from the other side’s point of view.

Poem with an explanation: Home

Home,
peacefulness,
serenity,
what is good seems more,
what is bad seems less

the mundane grows flowers,
the tree,
the wall,
the difference in the sky

all things seem different,
like a lens was changed

the colors are new,
and all is better.

 

This poem is about the perspective of someone who has been away from home for some time.  They were away in an unpleasant situation.  It might have been a long arduous trip, for example.  The person is relieved and happy to be at home.

At the start of the poem, the person is standing in familiar surroundings.  They are home.  They feel a sense of peacefulness and serenity after what they have been through.  They have a new perspective.  The good things at home seem better, and the bad things seem less bad.

The mundane things in their life at home seem to grow flowers and grow better.  They notice with fondness ordinary things like a tree and a wall.  Because of what they have been through and their changed perspective, even the sky looks different.

All things seem different to them, like they are looking through a new lens and can now see things as they really are.

Things look so different that colors seem new.  All seems better to them.