Poetry topic idea: aluminum cans

Today’s poetry topic idea is aluminum cans.  There are a number of ways a poet can use aluminum cans in poetry.  Some ideas include writing about:

  • The different beverages that can be in aluminum cans.

  • Recycling.

  • The idea that the fluid in aluminum cans, once opened, is only good for a short amount of time.

  • Fragility mixed with strength. Aluminum cans are fragile, in the sense that they can be easily crushed.  They are strong though because they can bear a relatively large amount of weight.

  • Preservation.

  • Mining.

  • Cans

Here is an example poem using the idea of fragility mixed with strength from aluminum cans:

seventy hours
collapsing on the sofa
a long week at work

Poetry essay: What goes into a poem isn’t seen

When a poet presents a finished poem, in many cases the poem wasn’t written that way.  As the poet worked on the poem, changes were made.  Lines were changed.  Words were changed.  Form elements were modified.  The poem took shape as the poet worked on it.  How it looked at different stages, might have been quite different than how it looked when finished.

This idea raises some issues for poets as they present their work.

First, a poet should understand that those who read their poetry might not perceive the amount of work that went into it.

When a person reads a wonderful sounding stanza of poetry for example, they don’t know if it was just written that way, or if it went through multiple variations.  This is something a poet should keep in mind when they present their work.

A poet wants their poetry to be appreciated, but they should understand that many readers won’t appreciate the work that goes into it, because they don’t understand the work that goes into it.

Second, sometimes a poet can remember what a poem was like at different stages.  A poet knows what words they changed, what lines were removed, and so forth.  This can sometimes influence the poet’s perception of their own work.  The poet knows what it was, and so they see how it is, differently.

Third, in addition to a poet perceiving their work differently from a reader, a poet might actually remember parts of poem that are no longer there, and understand those parts as part of the work.

For example, if a poet had a poem where a flower dies, and when working on the poem they at first explicitly state this, but then later they remove the statement, the poet might remember this line and understand the poem differently than a reader might.  A reader, not reading the line, might, for example, think the flower only wilted.

Fourth, as a poem develops it might improve.  The first rendition of it might not be as good as the last.  When a poet presents their work, they are presenting a refined product, and not a raw one.

This can have an effect on how people perceive the poet’s poetry.  People might think the poet comes up with the work simply as it is presented.  They might not understand that there were preceding drafts.

This idea can sometimes create a sense of disillusionment for readers if they ever watch a poet create a poem.  They may have thought that the work was created effortlessly and be disappointed when they find out it isn’t.  It would almost be like a person watching a great artist draw and the person seeing the artist erase.  They may have never considered that the artist made changes or mistakes.


When a poet creates a poem, work goes into it that isn’t normally seen.  A poet should be aware of this idea and how it impacts the perception of their work.

As an interesting exercise, a poet might record their work on a poem, for example be using a computer program that records what is on their screen.  It might interesting for a poet to present the development of a poem, in addition to its final form.  This would give readers a better insight into the poet’s work.

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Experimental Poetry Form: small plane

Today’s experimental poetry form is called small plane.  It based off of layout on the page.  It is meant to generally resemble a small plane from the top.  It looks as follows:

    ***                    ****
    ***                    ****

A poem written in the form is read from top to bottom and from left to right.

Here is an example poem written in the form:

    day              when
 words of action mean
 more than high ideas
 those in robes will go
    and              find

Poem: the lies of scholars

Gather in,
the stone filled hall,
and hear the words,
of tuniced men.

Speak of words,
of those long dead,
and contemplate,
if flowers live.

The travelers speak,
of worlds their eyes,
have never seen,
no known before.

The workers speak,
upon their beds,
of iron flows,
by their cool streams.

Plights and fights,
and counting coins,
and unseen walls,
are all discussed.

Within their dreams,
they run and fly,
and vanquish dragons,
beyond the sea.

Their hands are gloved,
and they can’t feel,
yet they hold sands,
grain by grain.

They talk of trees,
to make them grow,
and speak of seas,
to make them dry.

They’re chained to walls,
by their own hands,
but speak as though,
their words were men.

And there in fields,
they are distained,
the men who reap,
and those who sow.

And there by roads,
they are so shunned,
the men who dig,
the traveled paths.

They speak of mills,
but have no hands,
to turn the stone,
and grind the grain.

They speak of water,
that flows with speed,
but can’t walk out,
to the water’s edge.

The ants do know,
what they know not,
that to eat bread,
you must sow wheat.

The sparrows know,
what they can’t see,
that to find food,
you must fly out.

The clouds have worth,
but not the stones,
the dreams are gold,
but work is slag.

They speak of those,
upon the path,
in hopes they too,
will dream of dreams.

And to those who work,
out in the fields,
they turn their eyes,
and do not see.

Post Series: The Tea Series: Poem with an explanation: Times


7:12 am – The kettle boils.  Water is poured upon a bag.  A spoon of sugar.  Stirring.  Waiting two minutes.  Drinking with an egg.

7:45 am – A press on the handle.  Into the same blue mug.  Today – a green bag.  From the drawer.  Wait three minutes.  A little packet is poured.  Sipping.

12:03 pm – A bottle from the cooler.  The label is missing.  Bright gold and translucent.  It has lemon.  The first of the week.

3:04 pm – Same as 7:45 am

8:00 pm – Quiet.  An old movie – film noir.  1940s – a dark alley.  That music.  Peppermint- not a flavor – an actual one dropped in the cup – why not?  Relaxing.


This poem follows an imaginary person as they go through a work day.  Each time noted is a time when the person is drinking tea.  The poem is written as a schedule to add interest to the form.

The times chosen were meant to impart a sense of realism, as if they were the actual times the events happened.  Each time was written with short lines, as if someone was simply writing down what was happening, as it was happening.

In the poem, the word “tea” is not actually mentioned, however, the context is intended to make the idea of tea obvious.

In some sense, the descriptions are meant to express the mundane and the routine.  The implication is that the imaginary person goes through this basic routine each work day, with different moments of variation, such as deciding to have the green bag of tea at 7:45 am.