Poetry topic idea: lifeboat

Today’s poetry topic idea is lifeboat.  There are a number of ways a poet could write about a lifeboat and a number of ideas pertaining to it.

First, a poet could write directly about a lifeboat.  They could write about being in small boat after a larger one has sunk.  They could look at ideas such as survival, rescue, isolation, hope, despair, and others.

Second, a poet could write about a lifeboat as a metaphor for something that helps them survive in tough times.  This could be something like staying with a relative when they lose their job, or, like now, a person staying in their house because of a virus.

Third, a poet could write about a lifeboat as a metaphor for their present condition.  The person could be in a condition where they are just above some lowest level, and the lifeboat could describe that.  They could view their condition positively or negatively depending on perspective.  An example for this might be a low paying part-time job a person finds after losing their higher paying full-time job.

Fourth, a poet could write about a lifeboat as a metaphor for any temporary place of isolation.  The place could be viewed as a positive retreat or as an escape from something negative.  A positive place might be a person’s room in their house that they go to simply to relax.  An escape form something negative might be a place a person goes to get away from someone who upsets them.

Here is an example poem using the idea of a lifeboat:

out to sea
$200 a week
and a brother’s couch
where is land?

Poetry topic idea: water

Today’s poetry topic idea is water.

Water can seem like a basic thing, but it can be complex if a person thinks about it.  There are a number of things about water a person can use in poetry.  Some of them include:

  • The fact that water exists in all three phases (solid, liquid, and gas) under normal conditions. This is different than most other substances.
    A poet could use this idea directly or relate it to other things.  An example might be a poem about a woman who is a wife, mother, and daughter all at the same time.

  • Water is a solvent. Although it may not seem like it, most things dissolve in water if given enough time.
    This idea of dissolving could be used in a number of ways in poetry.  For example, a poet could write about people who work at a dead end job.  They could describe the people as dissolving into the place.

  • Water is fundamental. Virtually every living thing needs water in some capacity to live.  This idea of being fundamental could be used in poetry in a number of ways.  A poet could write about a number of things they perceive as being fundamental.

  • Water is destructive. Water can be destructive in major ways.  Think of floods, storm surge, and storms.  Water can also be subtly destructive.  Think about slow water damage to the structure of a house.
    A poet could write about these ideas directly or they could apply them to other things.
    A poet could apply the idea of major destruction to a life changing situation in someone’s life.  For example, if a person loses their job, all of a sudden their life has been damaged.  A poet could write about this and compare the unemployment to a flood or storm.
    The notion of subtle destruction could be applied to relationships.  Maybe one person causes another person to experience stress.  This stress could build slowly over time with each encounter.  This idea could be compared to the subtle way water damages a structure.

Here is an example poem using the idea of water:

the desert winds blew
so many months with no rain
then he got a job


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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.

Post Series: Poems with Explanations: Trying

The forms all day,
blurs of empty repetition,
the pointlessness surrounds,
in speechlessness.

All the lost days,
the insides fill with contrition,
summer hibernation,
seems so endless.

A bold dark line,
an answer to the petition,
a wonder at fool’s gold,
holds all sense back.

The village edge,
the end of the expedition,
a nearby waving hand,
and it all goes.


This poem deals with someone looking for a job.  As the poem starts, the person has been looking for a job for some time.  They are at a point of dejection.

In the first line, The forms all day, the person has been filling out job applications online all day.  They have been doing this for months.  It is starting to overwhelm them emotionally.  They feel all the applications blending together and it seems like pointless repetition (blurs of empty repetition) as it has not led to a job.  This sense of pointlessness surrounds them (the pointlessness surrounds) and they feel at a loss and can’t express how they feel (in speechlessness).

The person reflects on how long they have been without a job.  They feel like it has been wasted time (All the lost days).  They think back to when they had a job, and how few steps they took to prepare for a time if they lost it.  They are filled with regret (the insides fill with contrition).  They feel like they are missing something of life now.  It is like they are hibernating in the summer (summer hibernation) (when there is something to miss, as opposed to the winter).  They feel like their state of unemployment will not end (seems so endless).

In the next stanza, there is a change.  The person checks their email and instead of seeing nothing or emails they have been opened, they see a new one (A bold dark line).  This email is different from past ones, in that it is not from a company (and by extension a form rejection) it is from a person (an answer to the petition).  The person almost gets excited, but realizing that it may just be a rejection (a wonder at fool’s gold) they hold their emotions down (holds all sense back).

The person checks the email and it is someone wanting to schedule a job interview with them.  All of a sudden, the person feels relief.  They feel like they have made it to their destination (The village edge) and that their trial is over (the end of the expedition).  The person reads again the offer of an interview (a nearby waving hand) and a sense of relief over what they have been through comes over them (and it all goes).

This poem is a form poem.  It uses the experimental poetry from: centered stanzas that was on this blog on August 10, 2016.  To summarize, the form has four centered stanzas, the syllable counts per line of each stanza are 4, 8, 6, and 4, and the second line of each stanza rhymes.


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.

Poetry topic idea: unemployment

Today’s poetry topic idea is unemployment.  There are quite a few ways this could be approached and also quite a few ideas for poetry.  Some include writing about:

  • Unemployment in a broad sense
  • Unemployment affecting a specific group
  • Unemployment affecting an individual
  • The moment unemployment occurs
  • Being unemployed for a significant length of time
  • Receiving government benefits or charity
  • Looking for a job
  • Finding a job
  • The social reaction to unemployment
  • Cutting back on expenses
  • Selling things
  • The change in emotion over a period of unemployment
  • Obstacles to gaining employment

An example of a poem related to unemployment was the poem with an explanation: tornado.

Poem with an explanation: tornado

Not sunshine,
but not storms,
some clouds,
but generally sunny.

not a hurricane,
a tornado,
in that instant,
your house.

So there,
beside the rubble,
a stillness,
and then a journey.


This poem has an imagery and an underlining meaning.  The imagery is that of weather.  The underlining meaning is that of a person losing their job.  The imagery of weather was used to relate the emotion of the experience.

The first stanza, describes a person’s opinion of their job: it’s alright.  It’s not great, it’s not bad, it’s just alright.

The first line, Not sunshine, describes the person’s view that their job is not great.

The second line, but not storms, expresses the view that it isn’t bad though.

The next two lines, describes how the person views their job.  Some clouds, but generally sunny, is meant to mean that the person has some bad days and moments at work (some clouds) but that overall, it’s okay (but generally sunny).

The second stanza, describes the person losing their job.

The first line, Then, is meant to express transition.  This is the end of the ordinary and the status quo situation.

The next two lines, not a hurricane, a tornado, is meant to mean that the person lost their job all of a sudden and without a warning.  A hurricane could be thought of as something that takes time to happen.  A tornado, happens in an instant.  That imagery is used to describe the situation.

The last two lines, in that instant, your house, is meant to express the personal nature of what has occurred.  There is a cliché, that bad things will happen to other people.  These two lines express the idea that the bad thing happened to this person.  The idea is to express the personal aspect of the situation.

The last stanza, describes the person right after they lost their job.  The image is of a person standing beside a destroyed house.  It is quiet, still and unreal.  That is expressed in the first three lines, So there, beside the rubble, a stillness.

The last line of the stanza, starts the moment of the person moving forward.

In terms of form, this poem is three stanzas long.  The first stanza is four lines long, the second is five, and the third is four.

The first stanza has a word count pattern per line of 2, 3, 2, 3.  The second stanza has a pattern of 1, 3, 2, 3, 2.  The third stanza has a pattern of 2, 3, 2, 4.  Written out, this looks like:




Thinking of word count, was not a factor in writing this poem.  However, it can be seen from the above, that there is almost a pattern present.

If pattern was important, the one word line could have been made to be two words and the four word line could have been made to be three words long.  That would have made the first and last stanzas have a pattern of 2323 and the middle stanza have a pattern of 23232, in terms of word count per line.

If additional pattern was desired, the last stanza could be further altered so that the entire poem would have alternating two word and three word lines.