Poem with an explanation: know the truth that it is day

twenty past three
and it was getting late
the force of the wind
was blowing strong

in the night
the monsters roamed
and in the light
the drums did beat

and so in the day
the steps were taken
to the woods
and back again

and days and days
did move on by
and by the fields
the hills were climbed

and then one day
it was two

and birds did sing
and butterflies flew
and flowers bloomed
beneath the sun

but in the caves
the ogres watched
and said their words
of vileness

and rain did fall
on butterflies
and clouds did cover
all the fields

but listen you
who walk the paths
the words of ogres
are not the end

walk the fields
and climb the hills
and look beyond
toward the sun

know the truth
that it is day

 

This poem is about a person losing weight, but rather than their accomplishment being applauded, they are looked down upon.

In the poem, a person starts off weighing 320 lbs.  This is referenced as a time (twenty past three).  The time reference is continued with the idea of getting late.  This refers to the idea that the person’s health is poor, and if steps aren’t taken, they might not live as long as they could.

The person finds themselves short of breath.  This feeling makes them worry.  This is related in the lines the force of the wind/was blowing strong.  The word force also relates to the fact that weight is a measure of force.

The person has this experience and it keeps them up at night (in the night/the monsters roamed).  They are worried that because of their weight, they might die.  The next day (and in the light) they are so worried that they can feel their heart beating inside of themselves (the drums did beat).

The person decides to make a change (and so in the day/the steps were taken).  The person starts walking (the steps were taken).  In the beginning, they can’t go very far and simply walk from one door of their house to another (to the woods/and back again).

The person keeps walking (and days and days/did move on by).  As they do, they find they are able to go farther and they leave their house (and by the fields/the hills were climbed).

The person keeps walking, and then one day, they fall below three hundred pounds (it was two).  It was two ties back into the idea of time from before.

The person is very happy (and birds did sing/and butterflies flew/and flowers bloomed/beneath the sun).

This happiness though isn’t shared by others.  The family of the person puts down their accomplishment.  They say the person is still overweight.  They say that being less than three hundred pounds isn’t an accomplishment.  They say the person hasn’t done anything.  They criticize the person and call them names (but in the caves/the ogres watched/and said their words/of vileness).

The person is saddened by this (and rain did fall/on butterflies/and clouds did cover/all the fields).

In the poem though, someone else speaks.  They talk to the person (but listen you/who walk the paths).  They tell the person that the words of their family aren’t what is important (the words of ogres/are not the end).

They encourage the person to keep on working (walk the fields/and climb the hills).  They tell them to look past the negative comments (and look beyond) and see the accomplishment they have made and where they are going (toward the sun).

They tell the person that the words of their family are lies (know the truth), and that the reality is they have done an amazing thing (that it is day).

This poem relates to something that happens in life.  A person can accomplish something that makes them feel good, but if that accomplish doesn’t meet the expectations of others, the person might be criticized for achieving so little in the eyes of others.  The poem express the idea that this is wrong and that people should feel good about their accomplishments, even if they have more to do.

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Poetry essay: Poetic twists

One poetic effect, is the idea of a twist.

Here is one example:

After struggling,
and sweat,
and endless hours,

he lost,

 

 

    fifteen pounds.

 

In this case, the first part makes the loosing seem like a bad thing.  There was a great deal of effort and then the person lost?  The twist though, was that the loosing was actually good.  He lost weight, which presumably, was a goal.

Here is another example:

they roamed the street
with eyes and teeth aglow

they approached the home
seeking to consume
that which was within

and at the door
as those within came forth
they shrieked their horrible call,
“Trick or treat!”

This poem is about Halloween.  The poem at first sounds like some monsters are about and they are going to eat people in a home.  In reality, they are trick or treaters dressed up for Halloween hoping to get candy.

Here is a third example:

the sun was shining
and the flowers,
just blooming,
filled the air with fragrance

everyone gathered
dressed in their best
as music played

nearby
doves cooed
waiting to be released

and
as a hush came over the crowd
someone gave
the slightest of signals
and the funeral began

 

This poem seems to start off happy.  It sounds like it is describing an outdoor wedding.  It’s a sunny day, there are fragrance filled flowers, there are lots of people who are dressed up, music is playing, and doves are going to be released.  In the twist though, this happy scene is really sad.  The scene is of a funeral.  All the bright things are in some way a cover for sadness.  The sadness of the scene is revealed at the end.

 

Here are some tips for using twists in your poems:

  • Have a lead in. For a twist to work there needs to be an appropriate lead in.  It needs to be long enough and effective enough that the reader forms an image and emotion in their mind.
  •  

  • Consider offsetting the twist. One way to create a pause for a twist, is to have it indented, after some number of line breaks, or both.  The idea is to have a dramatic pause to emphasize the twist.
  •  

  • Consider your title. The title can be part of the lead in or it can be a twist as well.  You can have a title that alludes to the reality of the poem while seeming to fit with the lead in.  If done correctly, this can amplify the effect of the twist.
  •  

  • Don’t go too far with a twist. Be careful not to turn off your audience with a twist.  Turning something happy to something sad is all right.  Turning something happy to something disturbing, might not be.
  •  

  • Know the twist before you start. This can make setting it up easier.  If you just write a scene with some emotion, but aren’t sure what the cause of the emotional change will be, it can make the lead in difficult to write and less effective.
  •  

  • Consider multiple kinds of twists. You can twist from happy to sad, from serious to silly, from large to small, from calm to excitement, and many other things.  Also, you can twist the other way, for example sad to happy or silly to serious.
  •  

  • Make sure the twist makes sense. The twist should be an opposite.  You can twist from happy to sad, but happy to serious might not work as well.  In the third poem above, the happy scene of a wedding was twisted to the sad scene of a funeral.  If this happy scene though had twisted to something like the opening of an office building, it might not have worked as well.

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Poem with an explanation: For the heart, for the mind

The glossy,
there on the carpet of red,
but in the pond,
something different.

Falling down,
with the glance,
and seeing looks,
that aren’t there.

In the fun house,
it isn’t so.

“The white coats,
might be the answer,”
so the voice,
does quietly say.

Hearing the sound,
of the eyes,
there’s nothing like a statue,
to be seen.

But a voice,
from so nearby,
says to see,
what’s really there.

It breaks the glass,
and blows the fog,
and shines a light,
on what is clear.

For the heart,
for the mind,
but for the world,
no more.

Steps and green,
steps and green,
a different white coat,
and different words.

For the heart,
for the mind,
for the one,
who’s beautiful.

 

This poem is about a woman struggling with her weight and body image.

In the first stanza of the poem, the woman compares images she sees to her own.  She sees beautiful women in magazines (The glossy) and she sees beautiful celebrities (there on the carpet of red), but in the mirror (but in the pond) she sees herself as looking different because of her weight (something different).

In the second stanza, the woman’s self-esteem falls as she looks in the mirror (Falling down, with the glance).  She has this feeling that people are looking at her physical flaws (and seeing looks) even though they aren’t (that aren’t there).

In the third stanza, the woman’s view of herself is distorted like the image in a fun house’s mirror.  She sees herself as looking worse than she really does (In the fun house, it isn’t so).

In the fourth stanza, the woman considers having weight reduction surgery (“The white coats, might be the answer,” so the voice, does quietly say. – the white coats representing doctors in lab coats).

In the fifth stanza, the woman feels that she is being judged by the looks of others (Hearing the sound, of the eyes).  She sees an image of perfection in her mind, like a Renaissance era statue, and sees herself as falling short of this ideal (there’s nothing like a statue, to be seen).

In the sixth stanza, something makes the woman reconsider her thoughts.  Somewhere in her life she has heard that value isn’t based on looks (But a voice, from so nearby, says to see, what’s really there).

In the seventh stanza, the woman considers this idea of self-worth.  The more she considers it, the more her view of herself changes.  She stops looking in the mirror (It breaks the glass) and she sees things more clearly (and blows the fog).  The more she considers it, the more she sees where her value really is (and shines a light, on what is clear).

In the eighth stanza, the woman sees her weight loss differently.  She feels that it is important for her health (For the heart), and for her wellbeing (for the mind), but realizes that she isn’t going to do it to satisfy what she believes society is telling her about weight (but for the world, no more.).

In the ninth stanza, the woman exercises and changes her diet (Steps and green).  She also sees a doctor (a different white coat), but for advice on improving her health and not for surgery to improve her looks (and different words.).

In the tenth stanza, the woman loses weight for her health (For the heart) and wellbeing (for the mind), and for herself (for the one), who she now realizes is beautiful (who’s beautiful.).

P. S. If you like poems with explanations, please take a look at Understanding: poems with explanations.

Poem with an explanation: so far away

1, 2, 3, 4

1

1, 2, 3, 4

1

 

1 minute later

10

 

Doing the math

moving faster

 

Doing the math

so far away

 

1, 2, 3, 4

1

1, 2, 3, 4

1

 

This poem is about exercise and weight loss.  In the poem, a person is moving on an elliptical machine.  They have decided that they want to burn five hundred calories in their workout.  They believe if they do this, they will lose weight.

The person starts to move and they count their steps as they look at the calorie counter on the machine.  They count four steps (1, 2, 3, 4) and notice the counter go up one (1).  They count another four steps (1, 2, 3, 4) and see the counter go up again.

They watch a clock for a minute (1 minute later) and see the counter is at ten (10).

They do the math in their mind (Doing the math).  If one minute burns ten calories, then fifty minutes would burn five hundred calories.  They realize how long a time fifty minutes is and realize they need to move faster (moving faster).

As they move, they do the math again.  They have heard, although aren’t certain, that to burn one pound of fat they need to burn three thousand five hundred calories.  They do the math in their mind to figure out how many days they will need to run on the elliptical (Doing the math), and realize they have a long road ahead of them (so far away).

As they move they decide to just keep moving.  They count their steps (1, 2, 3, 4) and see the counter go up one (1).  They count again (1, 2, 3, 4) and see it go up again.

The poem has some form.  Stanzas 1 and 5 are the same.  The first lines of stanzas 3 and 4 are the same.  Every line that starts with a number starts with the number 1 (the number 10 starts with the number 1).

Poem: Roller Coaster

Although they were polite,
they said he could not ride,
the roller coaster,
because the bar,
would not fit on him.

He had to walk,
the entire line back,
as he tried to look,
like nothing was wrong.

He sat at home that night,
and didn’t know what to say.

The next morning,
after he tied his laces,
and started to walk,
he knew next year,
he would ride the ride.

Poem with an explanation: the weight of sand

Looking in the sand,
and seeing,
the imaginary reality,
for all the suns,
and all the moons.

Standing there,
silently speaking,
reflecting on sand,
and wondering.

In the corner,
a tally is made,
in the thoughts,
an inverse of worth.

The equation is simple,
so the figures say,
reduce x,
increase y,
reduce z.
Adding the numbers,
the answer doesn’t match.

In the cave,
thinking of sand,
and wondering if,
someone else,
will ever be there.

 

This poem is about a person struggling with their weight.  It is about the negative feelings a person can have as they have this struggle.  It is about the emotions a person can go through as they stand in the bathroom, look at themselves in the mirror, and weigh themselves on a scale.

At the start of the poem, the person looks in the mirror (Looking in the sand), and sees their reflection (and seeing).  The image they see is real, in the sense that it is what they really look like, but it is also distorted by their perception of themselves (the imaginary reality).  They have stood in front of the mirror on a regular basis for years (for all the suns, and all the moons) and looked at themselves like this.

The person stands in front of the mirror (Standing there), and they talk to themselves aloud.  They see their reflection speaking even though it isn’t making a sound (silently speaking).  They talk about how long they have been overweight (reflecting on sand – sand representing time and their image in the mirror), and they wonder if they will ever be able to change how they are (and wondering).

The person is in a bathroom.  In the corner (In the corner), there is a scale.  The person weighs themselves (a tally is made) and the person feels that the higher their weight the less their worth (in the thoughts, and inverse of worth).

As the person steps off of the scale, they think of the often repeated advice (The equation is simple, so the figures say): eat less (reduce x), move more (increase y), and weight will go down (reduce z).  The person thinks of their reality where they have done this (Adding the numbers), and thinks about how it hasn’t worked for them (the answer doesn’t match).

The person stands against their bathroom door (In the cave), and they think of time and how their reflection looks in the mirror (thinking of sand), and they wonder if (and wondering if) they will ever change how they are (someone else, will ever be there).

 

If you like poems with explanations, please consider purchasing a copy of M. Sakran’s self-published eBook, Understanding: poems with explanations.  It contains twenty original poems, with explanations of each of them.  The main purpose of the book is to help readers expand their understanding of poetry through the explanations.

Understanding: poems with explanations is available for a current price of $0.99 (plus tax where applicable).  It is also available in currencies other than the U.S. dollar.  It can be purchased with British Pounds, Euros (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), Japanese Yen, Brazilian Reals, Canadian Dollars, Mexican Pesos, Australian Dollars and Indian Rupees.