Poetry topic idea: sleeping

Today’s poetry topic idea is sleeping.  It can inspire poetry. A poet could write about:

  • Dreams

  • Insomnia

  • Falling asleep

  • Waking up

  • Nightmares

  • Death

  • Being half awake

  • Unconsciousness

  • Darkness

  • Beds

  • Nighttime routines

  • Night


Here is a poem that uses the idea of sleeping:

during the night
there was a dream
of one hand
in another

and during the night
as consciousness stirred
the feeling on the fingers
could still be felt

rationalization played
it was only a dream
rationalization played
but what if something caused it?

still in between
the fingers were checked
and for a moment
the feeling was felt

as eyes opened
and the fog lifted
the rational sense
showed nothing was there

but on the fingers
something was felt
and in the darkness
it felt real

Poem Series: Time: sepia tones

You paint a picture
of your past
with sepia tones
and vintage clothes

but back then
in that time
the tones were clear
the clothes were new

there was no culture
no sense of era
no sense of things
now so easily defined

it wasn’t romantic
or nostalgic
it wasn’t a story
a movie in a listener’s mind

it wasn’t a story
something with music
no voiceover spoke
to add emotion

it wasn’t an image
some mysterious place
some far away
seen through a glass

it was real like this
it was solid like this
there was noise like this
there was dirt like this

it wasn’t history
something lived
thinking how the world
would look back

it wasn’t uniform
it wasn’t a decade
it wasn’t defined
by a song

it was real like this
it was solid like this
there was life like this
there was sense like this

but the stories are told
and the pictures are shown
and eyes look up
and imagine the tones

the black and white
with a sepia tint
of still photographs
and movie reels

the fedora hats
and tailored suits
seem ever present
no matter the time

and despite the knowledge
that all was real
the pictures are shown
with sepia tones

Poem with an explanation: Out in the ocean

Below is a poem with an explanation.  Before reading it, please check out M. Sakran’s self-published collection of poems with explanations, Understanding: poems with explanations.  After you read the poem and explanation below, if you like the idea of a poet explaining their poem so that you know exactly what it means (such that you could learn more about poetry by reading what one means – which is the general idea of the eBook), then consider purchasing a copy of M. Sakran’s eBook.  The eBook has twenty poems that have in depth explanations.  The idea, is that by reading what some poems really mean, the reader can hopefully better understand poetry and improve their reading and writing of it.  Thank you very much, enjoy the poem and explanation, and hopefully you’ll check out the book.


Out in the ocean,
holding on,
to a piece of the wreckage.

There’s floating,
trying to strain plankton from the water,
hoping it will rain,
and the sun won’t be too hot.

In the delirium,
there’s a sight,
far away,
a mountain,
and there,
in the valley,
in the cool air,
and greenness,

In the moments,
as eyes look out,
there are plans,
plans about the hut,
and its expansion,
plans about fishing,
and setting up traps,
plants and fruits,
and planting bushes,
plans of tools,
plans of ropes,

But there,
out in the ocean,
the leg kicks are in vain,
the arm reaching out grabs nothing,
in the back,
things float by,
but they aren’t seen.

The mind flows,
to thoughts of drift wood,
to finding a plastic sheet,
to finding a floating drum.

It all mixes,
but then again,
there’s the beach,
and the hut,
and there again,
there’s the mountain,
and the valley.

Out in the ocean,
holding on,
to a piece of the wreckage.


This poem is about the state of a person’s life.  It exams three ideas: where they are, where they want to be in the near future and what their dream is.  As an analogy, the reader might think of a person in a state of unemployment (where they are), the next job they hope to get (where they want to be in the near future) and the business they hope to own (what their dream is).  The idea though, could be applied to many other situations.  The poem contrasts the person’s dreams with their actions and reality.

In the first stanza, the person is in a state of despair.  Life is not going well.  They are out in the ocean, holding on to a piece of the wreckage.  They aren’t drowning, but they are just holding on.  The wreckage is part of what was keeping the person afloat before.  It was whatever helped them not be in the situation they are in.  Using the job analogy, it might be some sort of side work that relates to what they used to do, that the person is getting so that they can just barely make it, at least for a while.

In the second stanza, the person is doing little things to get by (strain plankton from the water) and hoping something good will happen (it will rain) and that something bad won’t happen (the sun won’t be too hot).

In their condition, they dream of what they wish for.  It is something that gives them a sense of peace and comfort.  It is as different from where they are as things can be.  In the poem, the peaceful place is in the mountains, which is as far a departure from the sea as a person can be, in a sense.  Using the job analogy, this is the person’s dream of owning their own business.

In the following stanza, the person dreams two steps ahead.  Using the job analogy, it would be like a person dreaming about what the promotion they would get after they get an entry level job, would be like.  They dream of the improvements it will bring in their life.  They skip over the entry level job in their thoughts.

In the next stanza, the person has a moment of reality.  They try to improve their situation but nothing works.  They also miss opportunities.

When these moments of reality hit, the person stops thinking of the far away goal, and even the near term goal, and starts to think about their present.  They think of small things, that in any other situation, wouldn’t be seen as achievements, but in their current situation do.

The reality is unpleasant for the person though.  Thinking of inches, when there are dreams of miles is disheartening to them.  They again start to dream about the near term goal and the future wish.

In the end, the person is still in their reality.

This poem contrasts a person’s reality with their aspirations.  The person in the poem is a dreamer, but they don’t seem to be able to move forward to their dreams.  They get ahead of themselves.  They dream of improving life on the beach and living in the mountains, while they are floating on a piece of a shipwreck in the ocean.  They are focused on tomorrow, but not paying enough attention to today.

Although the poem was described using the idea of a person’s employment condition, it could be extended to many other ideas.  For example, a person who isn’t in shape might be dreaming about running a 5K and a marathon.  It could also be applied a person who has trouble getting a date, thinking about what it would be like to date someone and be married.  It also might be used to talk about a person with an addiction, thinking about what it would be like to be six months sober and two years sober.  In all the ideas, the person is getting ahead of themselves.  They aren’t able to improve their current situation, but they dream of the situation being changed.

In terms of form, the poem is divided into eight stanzas. The number of lines per stanza varies between three and twelve.  With exception of the second four line stanza, the number of lines per stanza increases to a point and then decreases to a point.  Had that idea been more important, the second four line stanza could have been increased to seven lines long, and the seven line stanza could have been decreased to six lines long, to maintain the idea.

In the poem, the first and last stanzas are the same.  The idea was to provide circularity.  Despite all the thought and dreaming, the condition of the person is the same at the end of the poem as at the start.

In the third stanza, the phrase “in the” is repeated three times.  In the first use, it is negative, in the second two uses, it is meant to take the reader into the person’s dream.

The fourth stanza starts with “in the”.  In the third stanza, the situation was “In the delirium”.  In the fourth stanza, it is “In the moments”.  The two “in the” phrases from the third stanza, transitioned the person’s state of mind so that they are fully dreaming.

In the fifth stanza, the word “plans” is repeated six times.  The idea was show how much the person in the poem was dreaming.  They had detailed ideas about what they wanted.  They were planning.  This is contrasted with doing.

In the second to last stanza, “to finding a” is repeated twice.  The idea was to emphasize the person grasping for scraps in their situation.  The state of the person is bad to a point, that things that are seen as debris, are useful to them.


If you liked this poem with an explanation and like the idea of explained poems as way to hopefully better understand poetry, then please consider purchasing a copy of Understanding: poems with explanations.

Poem: Fish food reality

The goldfish,
turned yellow,
when they learned,
what was really in,
fish food.


P.S.  Guess what?  Right now, you can send a poem to M. Sakran for consideration.  If M. Sakran likes your poem, it might be published on this blog.  Isn’t that an amazing opportunity?

If you’re interested in such amazement, then go to the Considerations page to learn more.  While the information on the page is a little long, the basic idea is pretty simple.  It’s basically three steps:

  1. Choose something from one or more of the following categories on this blog: Artwork Inspiration, Photo Inspiration, Poetry Topic Ideas, or Experimental Poetry Form.

  3. Write a poem using that something.

  5. Send the poem to M. Sakran.

That’s really the basic idea.  It’s easy.  Just see the Considerations page for more information.

Post Series: Poems with Explanations: Reality and Dream

In the stillness,
there is movement,
in the darkness,
there is light.

In the silence,
there is clatter,
in the blindness,
there is sight.

In the coldness,
there is warmness,
in the weakness,
there is might.


This poem is about someone sleeping and dreaming.  There are three stanzas.  The odd lines of the stanzas describe the reality and the even lines describe the dream.

In the first stanza, the person is still, sleeping in a still room (In the stillness).  In their dream however, there is a lot happening (there is movement).  The room is dark (in the darkness), but there is light in the dream (there is light).

In the second stanza, the room is silent (In the silence), but there is noise in the dream (there is clatter).  While the person is sleeping, they can’t see (in the blindness), but in the dream, they are seeing things (there is sight).

In the third stanza, the room is cold (In the coldness), but the dream is warm (there is warmness).  The person is physically weak in reality (in the weakness), but they are strong in their dream (there is might).

The poem focuses on the contrast between the reality and the dream.

This poem is a form poem.  The general form of the stanzas are:

In the A,  (4 syllables)
there is B (antonym of A),  (4 syllables)
in the C-ness,  (4 syllables)
there is D (antonym of C (rhyme with other Ds)).  (3 syllables)

The odd lines all start with in the and the even lines all start with there is.  The last word of each line two, is an antonym of the last word of the corresponding line one.  Similarly, the last word of each line four, is an antonym of the corresponding line three.  Each third line, at least, ends with a word that ends in –ness.  All the fourth lines rhyme.  The stanzas have a syllable count of 4443.

In writing the poem, there was some intention to impart more form elements to the end words of lines (for example having each last word of each second line end in –ent).  However, given the notion of finding something relevant to the scene described, as well as the form elements of antonyms and rhyming, it proved to be a bit too much.  There is some thought though, that adding additional form elements would have added to the expression of the poem.


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.

A photograph to inspire poetry: Night sky

Night sky

Yesterday’s blog post was an artwork to inspire poetry entitled Night sky.  The posting of that artwork, lead to the idea of having a similar post of a photograph to inspire poetry.

The above is a photograph of the night sky.  Like the artwork to inspire poetry, this photograph can inspire poetry.  They both can inspire poetry in some similar ways.  For example, in each instance, a poet could be inspired to write a poem about stars.

Despite the fact though that both the artwork and the photograph are images of the night sky, it is clear that the imagined image in the artwork is different from the real image in the photograph.  In the real image, far less stars (and no planets) can be seen than in the imagined image.  This difference between imagination and reality could also serve as an inspiration for poetry.