Poem with an explanation: walking nowhere

walking miles
but getting nowhere

 

This poem is specifically about a person trying to lose weight by walking on a treadmill.  Over time, the person walks many miles but loses no weight.  The “getting nowhere” part refers to the person not achieving what they desired, but also to the idea that they are in the same place while walking on the machine.  The idea was to use the phrase symbolically and literally.

More generally, the poem is about effort without result and could be symbolic of many experiences.

Poem with an explanation: another week begins

There was something you required,
and that,
that was given.

But you,
you did not keep,
your side of the bargain.

And now,
now you ask for more?

And now,
now you make the same claim?

Somehow,
it doesn’t seem right.

Somehow,
throwing good,
after bad,
just doesn’t seem wise.

But there’s,
there’s the writing.

But there’s,
there’s the voices.

But there’s,
there’s the logic.

Another week begins,
and something is required …

the first step is taken.

 

This poem is about a person who is unsuccessfully trying to lose weight.  In the poem, they are arguing with the weight loss method they chose.

The person has tried a method to lose weight, in this case exercise, but when they weighed themselves, they didn’t lose weight.  Now they question the method, and the overall effort in general.

In the first stanza, the person says that they put in the effort.

In the second stanza, the person criticizes the weight loss method.  In their view, they did something, and so they expected something in return.  Since this did not happen, they feel cheated.

In the third stanza, the person is going to start a new week.  They are contemplating whether they should continue with their efforts.  They wonder this considering that their previous efforts did not work.

In the fourth stanza, the person questions their method.  They wonder how what did not work before is expected to work this time.

In the fifth stanza, the person doesn’t believe trying what they did before will work.

In the sixth stanza, they reiterate this idea.

In the seventh, eighth, and ninth stanzas, they think of evidence supporting them exercising.  They think of things they’ve read, what people have told them, and the logic of exercise.

In the tenth stanza, the week begins, and the person hesitates before exercising.

In the eleventh stanza, the person doesn’t see an alternative, and they exercise again.

The idea of this poem is to look at the path that trying to lose weight can take.  A person can try something, and have it not work, and wonder whether they should keep at it.

Poem with an explanation: steps

walking in circles
around the driveway
neighbors watch
and don’t understand

counting the circles
doing the math
letting the mind wander
as the steps continue

at times
it feels pointless
many journeys
to a beginning

at times
when there is less
and then less
and then less
and then less
there’s a point

 

This poem is about a person walking to lose weight.  The person has a pedometer and is counting their steps each day to reach a daily goal so they can lose weight.

In the first stanza, the person walks repeatedly around their driveway in a loop.  This seems odd to their neighbors.

In the second stanza, the person tries to take their mind off what they are doing, to help it go faster, all the while realizing that as they are trying not to think about it, they are continuing to walk.

In the third stanza, the person does feel strange doing all this walking without some sort of tangible result.  They are not walking for work for example or to reach a location.

In the fourth stanza, as the person continues to lose weight they understand the point of what they are doing.

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.

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.