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    Blue man

    Alone he walks in the dark blue streets.
    In the coldness and fear of the dark blue nights.
    The blue man alone always reaches,
    The old blue river where he will be affright.
    He stands there and think about all the old nights,
    When he thought of ending things for the final time.
    He always knew it would end by the river,
    But he never thought it will end tonight.
    The man with the blue soul stands and speak,
    To the ancient souls of sorrow and grief.
    He tell them the reasons that lead him to this.
    He pours his heavy heart before he sinks.
    That day was the las day the blue man was seen,
    Before his body was washed by the dark blue stream.

    What we love about it

    The monochrome images really effectively mimic what is clearly the blue man's consuming grief -- it tints everything he sees and does.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    "Blue" man is clearly a metaphor for his grief and sadness. Consider adding some lines about the root of his grief -- what would make his heart so heavy and bring him to this point?

    The First O

    Warmth begins to rise within me,

    And now consumes me.


    I need release.

    But what is release?


    Instinct takes over.

    My hands reach the warmth,

    Protect the warmth,

    Increase the warmth.



    What we love about it

    The progression in this poem of "Protect the warmth, / Increase the warmth. / Oh."

    Suggestions to strengthen

    What would happen if you added some more concrete details to this poem?


    All the stars in the night sky
    They glisten there for you
    Shooting stars fly overhead
    So make a wish or two

    What we love about it

    This is short and sweet and to the point. Since it's so short, all of the words carry weight.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider telling us a bit more about the "you" in this piece -- is it a child, a parent, a lover, someone else?

    Hero to Zero

    do you know how it feels to be viewed as a hero like Thor

    to be praised and given thanks for giving a love so pure to a person unlike anything they’d experienced before

    but as time carries on things start to change for the worst

    and before you can realize, the person’s heartstrings begin to close like a purse

    no matter how hard you try to correct all your wrongs,

    the person you had enchanted with your love decides to move along until the point they can take you no more,

    and you are no longer seen as the hero


    What we love about it

    The movement from the first line to the last, and also the phrasing of "the person’s heartstrings begin to close like a purse."

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider playing with punctuation and seeing how it could affect the message of the piece.


    My body sits there, in my bed, on the couch, in my desk chair
    While my mind worries of being unproductive
    My body sits there, in my bed, on the couch, in my desk chair
    While my hands yearn to draw and work, to fiddle and tap
    My body sits there, in my bed, on the couch, in my desk chair
    While my heart aches to be with friends and loved ones
    My body sits there, in my bed, on the couch, in my desk chair
    because…I have no control over my body
    It feels so numb and yet
    My mind worries, my hands yearn and my heart aches and yet
    I sit there, my body sits there…
    in my bed, on the couch, in my desk chair

    What we love about it

    The repetition really crystallizes the speaker's feeling of being "stuck."

    Suggestions to strengthen

    There is an interesting twist in the "no control" line. What would happen if you expanded a bit on that idea?


    I don’t like being angry, but it’s so easy
    It’s so easy, to let go of the chains
    The chains, holding all of it back
    It back, from outside my head
    Outside my head, is scary and one word
    One word, could ruin me
    Ruin me, thats why
    Thats why, i hate being angry

    What we love about it

    The sequential cause-and-effect nature of this piece. The chain of events is striking.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider expanding a bit on the idea of the "one word." Why is it scary?


    And I saw a world
    Without your clutch
    Then, suddenly an eternal flame released
    In your reappearance
    A begging longing uncalled for
    To be reapproached
    As I thirsted for the bare hands
    That would wipe away my tears
    To hold my hands as it intertwined
    Replaced by my longing stare
    Lingering it all like I had nothing left
    Culpable, wishing for that clutch again.

    What we love about it

    The unusual choice of "clutch" instead of "touch" for what appears to be a toxic relationship.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider expanding some of these ideas. Are there other word swaps that could do the heavy lifting to twist the idea of a healthy relationship in parallel to how the described relationship is twisted from the ideal?

    Love in Senses

    Love tastes like chicken noodle soup
    Smells like fresh bread from the oven
    Feels like a ray of sunshine at 7:00 am
    It varies everyday
    There are mornings when
    The soup tastes bland
    The bread is a little charred
    Or the clouds gather and pours
    But then,
    You consume them anyway
    And promise to try again the next day.
    And the day after.
    And the day after that.
    Until you tasted every possible taste
    Until you wafted every possible smell
    Until you felt every possible weather
    But still look forward to it the next day.

    What we love about it

    The honesty of the food metaphor (e.g., "sometimes the food tastes bland") and the detail in the images.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider whether the repetition of the last four lines ("Until..." to the end) is doing as much lifting as the repetition in the three lines prior ("And...") does. How might the "forever" feel of the last four lines be made more immediate/concrete?


    Why don’t i leave this to the rain?
    i think it should wash away (my pain)

    why don’t i leave it to the breeze?
    make me stronger (than the trees)

    why don’t i give it to the ocean?
    give me back (my devotion)

    but what am i giving back?
    memories, regrets (or you)

    why is nothing working?
    i don’t know (what to do)

    and why did it have to be you?
    who caused me all this heartbreak
    gave me all this heartache
    now i’m familiar with the agony
    of losing someone who’s still alive
    now i’ll never love again
    just live to survive
    i swear this will come back and leave you haunted
    how you left my world distorted
    and you’ll remember me
    i’ll be your only memory
    you taught me well
    and now it’s lesson learned
    but baby, you’ll get what you earned

    What we love about it

    The shift halfway through the piece, between questions and answers, is really nice. Kudos!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The parentheticals in the first part seem to convey important pieces of those ideas. Consider what would happen if they weren't parentheticals, but part of the running text of the poem.


    the pain of losing your father
    it never goes away, you know
    it’s a wound that never heals
    with time, of course, it scabs over
    you may go hours without thinking of him
    then days
    and maybe weeks
    but simple mundane things
    like catching sight of a stranger who looks like him
    or a whiff of his scent when you visit home
    or the tunes of an old song that he would listen to as it drifts through the air
    memories from a lifetime ago
    and you are back
    to the pain of losing him
    but also the beauty and wonder of having known him at all
    of having been chosen
    to be his child
    of having had the best father in the whole wide world
    for all the romanticized love around
    it is easy to miss this simple, unassuming, unexpecting love
    that is true and pure
    and forever
    it is better to have known and lost
    then to have not known him at all
    i’ll see you on the other side papa

    What we love about it

    This is a really poignant memorial with some wonderful detail.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider whether adding more punctuation might make the details stand out more clearly for the reader.

    Lack of Remorse

    There is only one way to make you happy, mother
    Every tear that drops because of you,
    Reminds me it’s because of me.
    I lack an apology,
    Because you lack sentiment.
    We laugh, yes quit often
    But more often the sword detaches.
    All the good is not outweighed by the bad,
    But rather over-shadowed by your lack of remorse.
    I will only get stronger from here,
    Because by the last stop
    I will owe you nothing.

    What we love about it

    That second line, and its one word on its own line, packs a real punch!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    What would happen if the line lengths were a bit less varied, or some of the longer lines were strategically broken into two in a similar fashion to the first two lines?


    It burns my feet
    Feels weird on my skin
    Gets stuck to my body
    But it feels like within
    It’s where we talked freely
    Where your skin brushed my hand
    I know I’ll always remember
    How you looked by the sand

    What we love about it

    The less desirable properties of sand and how that abruptly turns to a fond, desirable-seeming memory.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider expanding on how the sand "feels weird on [the speaker's] skin." Is it grainy? Irritating? Itchy? Soft? Something else entirely?

    Ecstatic Journey of Divine Still

    Across multiple stratospheric plains
    Your voice have caught my frozen ear
    I slept an eternal sleep but never more
    Awaken heart ready to listen ready to live
    A word a mighty word the only word
    Your world like a needle shut unto my anesthetized kingdom
    Rays of a approaching sun shining through softly and penetrating
    No more despair no more darken days no more illusionary dreams of torn paper
    Islands elevated steps of a new lasting journey toward the Other the Above the Below
    The unheard now I sow now I will see through the present unseen
    Your embrace I catch I return I search I point
    The encounter at the end of my journey as the newborn thrown out the unknown
    Your name I never knew the only wall I break through
    Struggle is my bread life is your gift I never sought
    Gently catch my fall pushing me behold my soul
    Plains oceanic meadows your abode where I will stop to struggle no more

    What we love about it

    The way this piece picks up steam as the poem continues on.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider adding a few more grounded details to counterbalance the lofty and grand, as a way to connect those lofty and grand ideas to the here and now.

    A Dancing Soul

    To My Lord and My God

    A dancing soul
    Living at the edge of madness
    Never crossing the line
    Did you say a lie?

    Those clouds have left but cold
    Left me with many scars
    I am scared to tell you too much
    You do not know that I can’t fly?

    Fishing my dreams when they are gone
    Pushing yours back because I die
    Magnetic balance my state of mind
    Do not switch off your eyes from mine.

    Rainbow of chances through the sky
    Some too fast to catch
    Close enough I smile
    Hold my hand that has no life

    Alone confronting that nasty tasty,
    thought of death
    While I continue to be alive
    I let the morning to arise
    Did you say that you love me?

    Becoming aware of the limit
    Crossing the infinite but never touch it
    Tomorrow I will catch you
    Say a word to me, so please

    Enough for now that I may hear
    Return to you the moment here
    A heart disclosed to touch
    You, so close so far

    What we love about it

    The use of language here is lovely -- e.g., "Magnetic balance my state of mind," "Rainbow of chances through the sky," "Alone confronting that nasty tasty, / thought of death."

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider whether all of the words and stanzas are doing as much heavy lifting as possible here. Could some of the stanzas be condensed or combined into fewer, stronger ones?

    Can't You Understand?

    You don’t understand
    When I’m alone
    When I’m trapped
    When I’m afraid
    You don’t understand
    The frustration
    The anger
    The hate
    That scream
    their insults
    in my head
    When you feed them.
    That crack
    every fragment
    of my soul
    When you heed them.
    You don’t understand
    That I don’t have a hard life
    But that…
    I find this life hard to live
    You don’t understand
    The chains of burning metal
    That bind me
    How they
    Strangle my throat
    Coil around my eyes
    Make it so
    I cannot breathe
    But only suffer
    Not die
    If you could just
    If you would just
    That I am
    Who I am
    So just let me be!

    What we love about it

    The relentless rhythm of the first 15 or so lines of this. The frustration is palpable!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider what would happen if some of the shorter lines were lengthened or combined in the latter part of the piece. What ideas could combine in interesting ways and mirror the image of the "chains ... coil[ing] around [the speaker's] eyes?"

    There It Goes Again

    That familiar feeling
    I hate it because it reminds me of you
    But so much has transpired since you left
    and it reminds me how u tried to be a prominent reminder of pain
    how I constantly felt insane
    A nostalgic kind of sadness that I could not withstand
    I hope the worst for you.
    I hope the same kind of fate that I could in him. I loved him so. I loved him
    more than anything. In the end. He chose anything else but me

    What we love about it

    The conveyance of really raw and visceral feelings of someone who is looking back on an unhealthy relationship.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    There is an interesting switch where the speaker goes from speaking to "you" to speaking about "him." Consider expanding on what causes that switch.


    Sometimes I wish that people could see
    That not everything, is how it seems
    We do our best, just to survive
    Yet within this selfish world, we’re eaten alive
    Crime, poverty, suicide, and more
    Our very own governments, lead us straight into war
    So I’ll take this chance and lay it all bare
    How far could we go, if we just learned to care
    When we see someone in need, we turn a blind eye
    Knowing deep down, that ignorance is life’s big lie

    What we love about it

    The end rhymes seem to be used to interesting effect. They are often used in nursery rhymes and similar, so applying that to a poem about the world's ills sets up some dramatic tension.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider the rhythm of the words as well as the rhyme. Sometimes it's easy to focus on the end rhyme and the other words in the line have opportunities to be tightened and made to snap as much as the rhymes.


    So, I’ve been thinking about you and me, since we are no longer we. And how maybe women can be compared to a trend. Like the choker and Polaroids.

    And then, as we know it, the trend changes. Good women are no longer in. And no matter how great and accommodating she was of an item, she’s placed back on the shelf and priced to go.

    What we love about it

    The concrete detail of the idea of a trend -- "like the choker and Polaroids."

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider elaborating on what a "good woman" is, and what about her might be considered "trendy" in the world of this piece.

    When Is It My Turn?

    when is it my turn for somebody to love me?
    I just want to feel like I’m wanted
    a good person
    with a nice personality
    it’s hard to do that when everyone around me
    everyone besides me
    has experienced everything I’ve wanted
    ….without trying

    I’m tired of being the one to chase
    to fall quickly and become attached
    to be the only one who makes an effort
    when will somebody’s eyes light up as I enter a room?
    or feel butterflies when I’m around?
    I just wish I could read people’s minds.

    What we love about it

    The feeling in this is really visceral and well-described. It is easy for the reader to imagine the speaker's world.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    A lot of the "I want" statements in this are very abstract. What would happen if the "I want" statements had some more concrete details added to them? What does it mean for someone to view the speaker as "a good person?" What parts of their "nice personality" would the speaker want someone to notice and appreciate?

    feedback loop

    it’s five am and she just refreshed her phone
    for the strangers on the internet to praise her
    like her friends never could.
    stardom was an expectation,
    perfection was not a suggestion,
    so now she craves validation,
    never learned how to handle rejection.
    do this, do that, do everything,
    driving herself crazy for reaction.
    she used to be so good and so smart
    now she just spends her nights crying
    trying to recover what she’s lost
    but no one is ever there,
    she can’t stand to lose the last shard of her crown
    so she’d rather die every night silently
    and say that she’s okay in therapy sessions.
    c’mon, give her something, a comment or a like,
    just give her something to hold onto,
    just tell her that she’s enough.
    five am. refresh. rinse and repeat.
    what a life.

    What we love about it

    The relentless details that paint the character's quest for external validation through social media. The exclusive use of lowercase letters, which as a style choice reflects the ongoing narrative in the character's head.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider adding a few more bits of punctuation to help the reader understand each of these ideas on their own in addition to the role they play in the whole.

    The Traveller on the Flooded Road

    A traveller walks on the flooded road, his eyes unmarked by the ghastly woes that lay
    abundant in the water, they shrivel, rot and await his touch and must remain forever so.
    He stops not to pluck at the fallen flower nor the tempting sunken gold, he walks upon
    his path so forth, as if his eyes so set in stone.
    I awake to see him passing by, his eyes never greeting mine, they walk with him,
    upon his path so forth, leaving his hands behind.
    I stand to reach out, to shake his sight, reaching for a hand his eyes perceive.
    I must remain in the water, a sight to see, until the last of the traveler’s meet, mine
    washed by the sea.
    “Hello” I shout to the traveller, “have your heart no need and your hands no greed?
    for the shine of gold and its seed? The water so shallow and in your reach but with
    your eyes must you reach.”

    What we love about it

    The fairytale feel of this. This seems like something you'd tell someone over a campfire or before bed.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Is every word here pulling its weight? In some spots, there appear to be opportunities to tighten the language and the word count.


    i know there are more important things,
    purposes i have that need to be fulfilled
    but how can i keep going without addressing this,
    my mind just keeps pulling me back to you.
    i hate feeling like this because you don’t seem to care
    but the fantasist in my mind has you in such a strong bind,
    vulnerability it took to let you in,
    vulnerability it takes to let me miss you,
    vulnerability it takes to admit,
    that even though you cut me
    i’d let you back in
    perhaps even heal your wounds before mine,
    kiss you and pray to the divine,
    pray that you’re happy,
    even if you’re not mine.

    What we love about it

    The use of the lowercased "i" to reflect a penitent person talking to the person who left.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The last four lines introduce a rhyme scheme that isn't in the rest of the piece. Consider what would happen if you introduced that rhyme earlier in the poem.


    I’ll come back
    In a few years.
    To drop a rose on the grave
    Of what you could have become

    What we love about it

    This set of four lines tells a lot of story in a few words. Nicely done!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider what would happen if you omitted the punctuation in the middle of what appears to be a sentence. How would it be changed if it was read as one continuous idea?

    A Dream

    I’d oftent ask her
    what is so beautiful about sunsets
    if all that they truly mean
    is that everything and everyone has an end
    she’d say it reminded her that no matter
    the how difficult the path may be
    the end is always beautiful

    I’d ask,
    what if there is no beautiful end to see?
    she’d say, then I’d learn to love the path i took
    for somewhere down the road
    I’d become the path
    and the path will become me

    I’d ask,
    what if i never love the path i took,
    do i become a wanderer with nothing to see?
    she’d say, those who wander are never lost
    but are perhaps on a path of their own
    on a road not taken.

    I’d ask,
    what if you aren’t there to answer me?
    she said nothing,
    because now I’d become her
    and she became me

    for all the lives I’d live to see
    there is one thing that i have learnt to be
    love is not as cruel
    as people make it out to be

    What we love about it

    I love the images and the repetition of "I'd ask" with different directions in different stanzas, and how the different stanzas take ideas from the previous ones and expand on them.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    I'm curious about the decision to alternate using "I" (uppercase) and "i" (lowercase) interchangeably. What is the meaning that this is trying to convey?

    my therapist says

    no, i’ve never cried chopping onions but
    suddenly, i am revved as a chainsaw as

    he defines vindictive
    with a smile full of starfish venom

    be barfs up a pile of bones. Here.

    my therapist says

    trauma is like a rollercoaster,
    but i don’t really know how that information could have helped me when

    he just sat there
    licking butterfly crumbs off his lips

    she says the obsessive mind
    is like a dog scratching a face full of fleas, they lay eggs in the brain

    i put down the knife.

    What we love about it

    The really vivid imagery in this piece. Especially the dog with the fleas and the chainsaw and the starfish venom.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The last line about the knife doesn't seem to have context; is it an allusion to self-harm?

    This Place

    This Place

    An arching, aching, expanse
    withered and worn
    by an indefinite stream,
    my consciousness,
    yearning to fill the cracks.
    They still persist.

    Time knows not This Place.
    Or perhaps it is known by time, too well.
    An ancient void,
    yet somehow just discovered.
    Perfectly stable alone,
    precariously balanced on the edge of
    for how long?
    Time knows not This Place.

    ‘It is filled’
    echoes throughout.
    The stream still flowing
    when the nothing becomes too much.

    Sometimes nothing is better than not enough.
    Perhaps time knows This Place
    just perfectly.

    What we love about it

    The alliteration and assonance in the repeating sounds of the first stanza, and the image in the lines, "precariously balanced on the edge of / lonely / for how long?"

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider whether "Time knows not This Place" is a strong enough line to repeat at the beginning and end of the stanza where it appears. It seems that one or the other placement might be enough to convey the idea.


    I go along when you are planning
    You assume as we fall-
    I am unaware
    When we both slowly recalculate
    For us, the lines should never overlap

    What we love about it

    That last line -- "For us, the lines should never overlap" conveys a lot about healthy and unhealthy relationships and the realization that some people are oil and water for whatever reason.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider adding a bit more context: who are these people to each other whose lines really should never overlap—lovers, friends, family members?


    Time is either moving too fast, or hardly moving at all
    It is difficult to tell, all that is known is it feels like time doesn’t matter so much here.

    A small twig weightless in the breeze,
    One large green leaf holding onto it tightly
    Unfurled and stretching towards the sun.


    Untethered, but with a string bound tightly to its frail body
    The string glorious shades of red and gold,

    First hit,
    Harsher than strictly necessary,
    All sharp spikes and prickly edges,
    Awaits the twig.

    It plummets down through the boughs.
    Hitting a seemingly unending number of branches on the way down.
    Only to halt mere centimetres from the earth.
    Saved from impact by the magical thread
    Woven throughout the trees branches
    Holding the twig in place securely.

    Trunk an immovable source of strength
    A place for rest.

    Deep beneath the mossy terrain
    Below the great canopy of the tree
    Spreading out as though a web crafted from the most skilled spider
    Grow the roots.

    Plunging as deep as they do wide
    The roots cement the tree to the planets very core
    The Beginning
    The source of creation.

    Source connected to roots
    Roots connected to trunk
    Trunk connected to branches
    ..And the one splintered twig
    With the spectacular viridescent leaf
    Intertwined through them all
    Held firmly to the trunk by the luminous thread.

    Home once more.


    What we love about it

    The contrast between the idea of being untethered—free, but also not belonging anywhere—to being tethered, and having a home.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider whether all of those gorgeous words and phrases are doing as much heavy lifting as they could be and consider culling some of the ones that aren't introducing new ideas or progressing the narrative.

    Worth It

    I don’t want our relationship to consume my mind.
    It fills every void; being torn apart by my deepest apprehensions.
    Until they urge me to end it.
    Because no amount of love could make the damage
    that will come when it ends—because it will end—be worth it.

    What we love about it

    The interruption in the last line, which comes very suddenly and is unlike the other lines but is executed well.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Every line but one has terminal punctuation, and only one has mid-line punctuation. Consider the effect of either adding punctuation to the second-to-last line, or of breaking line 2 where the semicolon is. How would those changes affect the narrative?

    The eternal flow

    The cloud inside me gets
    denser and denser by,
    Hanging in some corner of my heart With a tight hook.
    This force brings me down,
    And Drag through the mosaic floor Injuring my flesh and bones
    And without even knowing
    I’m at my grave …

    What we love about it

    The images are vivid and have some interesting details, like specificity of the mosaic floor.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    All of the lines currently start with capitalization, almost as if they are different sentences even when they continue the same thought. Consider capitalizing and punctuating like prose, where there isn't a capital letter until you get to a proper noun or terminal punctuation. What would that do to the rhythm of the piece?

    Hope—A Haiku for My Mother

    I’m trying so hard
    It isn’t enough, it seems
    I made my mom cry

    And it broke my heart
    Mom, there will be better days
    I love you, dearly

    Sorry for the pain
    And the worry that I’ve caused
    I know what I am

    I love you mother
    You mean the whole world to me
    Don’t give up on me

    What we love about it

    The way that the haiku structures mirror an apology, with the first two lines discussing the hurt caused and the last lines focusing on the effects of those actions and wanting to make amends.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider what would happen if you punctuated these words like prose.

    I'm No Good

    If I could fly
    I would fly towards the sun
    My wings would burn
    and I would return
    to the ground and I would die

    I wish I was like a mole
    I would dig a hole
    I could dig down really deep
    Then I would hide from every soul
    Down there I would weep and weep and weep

    What we love about it

    The images here are really striking and strong. The summary of the myth of Icarus flying to great heights and the mole burrowing in the dark depths contrast in interesting ways.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The rhyme scheme seems to be inconsistent. Consider applying it throughout or omitting it entirely.

    Ode to Opioids (CW: addiction)

    Oxycodone, Hydromorphone, Hydrocodone love
    Wrap me in your blanket, make me float like a dove
    I love you and I hate you, you make me feel so nice
    But you’ve also caused me all this anguish and ruined my life
    That rush is incomparable to anything I’ve felt before
    But the feeling is unbearable when there is nothing more
    I love you and I hate you, you have me in your grip
    I’ll never be in charge of you, you’re the captain of this ship

    What we love about it

    The contradictions and rollercoaster feelings of addiction are captured well in this piece, and the long lines leave a reader a bit breathless (like the person with the addiction likely is as well).

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider whether the rhyme scheme is serving the poem or vice-versa; if the latter, perhaps breaking the rhyme scheme but focusing on the rhythm of the lines might be worth trying.

    Football's Coming Home

    Brave lions step up,
    The pressure so steep,
    So horrid an injustice,
    The lions labeled black sheep.

    The weight of a nation,
    All down on one knee,
    An example to all,
    Oh how proud they should be.

    Carried us further,
    Than we’ve been in so long,
    The way that they’re treated,
    Couldn’t be any more wrong.

    What we love about it

    The simple A-B-C-B rhyme scheme belies the weighty topic of sociopolitical action and creates an interesting tension.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    In some places, the "theys" and the "thems" get a bit muddled. To whom are these words referring? Consider clarifying.


    I met Hatred and it burned
    I met Helplessness and it blistered
    I met Vulnerability and my skin gave way completely

    20 missed calls from Control but I told her we can’t talk anymore, there’s someone new in my life

    The truth is there’ve been a lot of new faces lately and not all of them are pretty

    But I’m not looking for some surface level connection anyway
    After all of the dead-end blind dates Hurt sent me on I can’t help missing Trust

    Because just like that there’s water in my lungs again

    What we love about it

    The characterizations of the various concepts in the first several lines, especially the line about "20 missed calls from Control."

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider adding similar personifying details to Trust as to the other feelings.


    Why did I do it
    I ponder every day
    Too late to go back

    What we love about it

    This is an excellent question to ask, and the last line makes clear that the "it" in the first line is clearly something momentous and life changing.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    This short haiku asks a lot of questions with a lot of possible applications. I wonder if it should stand alone or if adding some context, even if placed with other poems in series, could be useful.

    From Afar

    Like observing the bluest waterfall
    Pouring its full potential down, down, downward
    Into a magnificent, dream-filled sea,
    I admire from afar
    So it may be, what it may be
    And I may carry on, gleaming.

    Like a wish upon the shiniest shooting star
    Exceeding the other various planets
    It’s distance, reveals its scars and its story,
    I admire from afar
    So it may bask in its shimmer and glory

    But wait—
    A prowling lioness
    Hungry for life
    Waters at the corner of her mouth.
    With beet-red eyes,
    It comes with no surprise
    Her antelope waits in despair
    An attack on sight
    Which brings the poor antelope fright
    Sulks in the bloodbath ending.

    What we love about it

    The flow of the images here, from idyllic waterfall to predatory bloodbath, and the contrast between those two extremes.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider whether some of the longer lines could be broken or shortened to be more uniform with the rest of the piece.

    Why Can't It Be About Me for Once?

    If I were to scream and cry
    To plead and beg
    To whine and moan
    Would they notice me the way they do you?
    Would they hear me too?

    “Why can’t it be about me for once?”
    It always is
    It always has been

    In ways big and small
    With nearly no effort
    You command a room
    You cast a shadow so glorious it is all I can do to wilt in its umbra

    What we love about it

    The repetition of phrases with slight changes to emphasize their differences is well played here. I also love the image of "a shadow so glorious it is all I can do to wilt in its umbra," even though it must be a painful spot for the speaker to be in.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    This is excerpted from a much longer piece. Consider whether each line is adding something new to the topic or whether some are re-treading the ground covered in prior lines and could be omitted.


    As fast as train on its tracks,
    Or a plane soaring its wings,
    Glass shattered like art,
    With materials colliding to create a sculpture,
    Only to see visions of blindness,
    While feeling trapped like a captive bird,
    But comforted with the embrace of one familiar hug,
    My father.

    What we love about it

    That last line packs a wallop, as the image is so startlingly different from the other ones.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    What purpose is the word "crash" as repeated line in addition to the title? Consider omitting.


    Look at my eyes
    Canʼt you see
    The pain that may subside
    but will not cease
    The crooked smile
    The yellow teeth
    It hides the emptiness I feel beneath
    My chosen home
    My lonely street
    Envelop me in darkness
    I choose to sleep

    What we love about it

    The off-rhymes are neat. Those can be hard to do consistently and well. Kudos!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider whether the leading capitalization on every line and the chosen lack of punctuation are serving the poem. Might punctuating this like prose make this easier for the reader to understand?


    Why am I the person you go to?
    Why am I the keeper of your secrets?
    Why am I the one you talk to when you say you want to talk to someone different?
    Why am I the one you vent to?
    Why should I help you figure out your feelings?
    Why should I stay when all you do is use me?
    Why shouldn’t I leave, you act like you wouldn’t care.
    Why do you use me and say you don’t? Why do you mock me then say it’s all just a joke?
    Why should I believe you?
    Why?…you don’t even know do you?

    What we love about it

    The repetition of the word and the weighty accusations behind them make the word "why" hit like a hammer.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider the rhythm of these lines. These are written currently as one might speak them, but might some revision make the wording a bit tighter and more evocative? Also consider having "you don't even know do you?" become its own stanza, as the entire piece seems to build to that.


    It really is a shame it has to be so lame

    With cancel culture and perms, that’s only the start of the game

    There are e-boys and anime, oh yeah and Addison Rae

    Putting her body on display just for faceless likes and praise

    Don’t forget the dances, oh so cliche

    And no its not just the dumb humor that has me feeling this way

    It’s the desensitization at the end of the day

    Invention of being super straight and disapproval of transgenders and gays

    And all of the racism could put you in a hays

    The effect on the youth is like a psychological maze

    Just because your favorite influencer said the n word doesn’t mean you should too

    What we love about it

    This poem's excoriation of Tiktok and social media in general is clear and logical and brings important issues to the fore.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Rhyme can be tricky--too much of it at the end of line can turn the reader's mind off to the poem's content because their ear will work to anticipate the next word instead. You might write a draft in which you let go of some of the perfect rhymes and see what happens!

    Faith and My Father (trigger warning: child abuse/rape)

    Now I ask has time run out?
    Nay, not for one who lacks all doubt
    But years went by and my shame grew
    Until shame was all I knew

    Now I fear the blessed night
    And look away from garish light
    Now every night I pray for relief
    But deep down I have lost belief

    What we love about it

    Choosing rhyme for this poem is incredibly interesting because it allows us to almost hear this as a nursery rhyme or lullaby which makes it so haunting. It's clear you've taken a lot of care in exploring an impossible topic with grace.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Is the rhyme controlling this poem too much? Especially when a singsong quality is jarring with the subject matter, it might be interesting to see where breaking the rhyme could support this child's trust being broken. Can you establish an expectation for rhyme and then allow that to slip away as the poem goes on?

    No Direction

    Living day to day
    No idea how to make headway
    How to break this endless cycle
    Make the effort, take some time and think about it Michael

    How I wish to be brave, honest and care free
    Not afraid, or guarded and “oh god help me”
    Learn to be grateful for what you have got
    Take stock and remember you have quite a lot

    What we love about it

    If this is really "the first “poem” [you've] ever sat down and written," then we are impressed that you jumped in to tackle a sonnet! You've got some wonderfully surprising rhyming pairs here like "cycle" and "Michael," and "carefree" and “oh god help me” giving us great juxtaposition! Your ideas are clearly humming along, and the poetic voice here is true and compelling!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Sometimes trying to maintain a rhyme scheme can make your lines uneven lengths as you write towards the end of the line or hunt that rhyme. Moving forward, you might take one step back from the form and decide what the most important idea at the heart of this poem is. Is this a heartfelt exploration of anxiety and creative worry? Who is this speaker and what is the occasion for the poem, what has made them feel insecure? For those shorter lines, see if you can explore the five senses and paint a vivid picture of where we are!

    Keep Your Chin Up

    I try to put my mask on every morning
    But it slips often and without any warning
    Paranoia seeps in daily
    Everyone around me hates me
    No self confidence or self esteem
    Every emotion felt to its extreme
    Eating too much, drinking even more
    The weight piles on and I feel even lower
    Closer to hitting rock bottom each day

    What we love about it

    The emotions of this raw poem are so forceful and true! The lines really sing when we can hear that repetition of s sounds with slips and seeps.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Read the poem aloud paying special attention to its sounds and see where you might infuse more music! Giving a singsong quality to a sad or introspective poem can make it more memorable as the form will clash with the meaning in a good way, making the reader sit up and pay attention. Could you open the poem with that slipping mask?


    I was lead to the ocean.
    The skies were clear, the colours bright, I wanted to go to the ocean.
    I dipped into the water, but it didn’t affect me much. I wanted to go to the ocean.
    Excited, I jumped right in. Burdens carried, patience thin, I dived into the ocean.

    I drowned.

    What we love about it

    The repetition of the desire for the ocean is really lovely, even though it leads to the speaker's demise.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Titles can do a lot of heavy lifting for a poem. Consider whether this title is pulling its full weight and conveying all that it could about the situation presented.

    My Heart

    My heart belongs to

    The pink on your lips

    The brown in your irises

    The flush on your cheeks

    And warmth I feel when you are beside me


    I lust for you my friend

    At night a heat creeps up within me

    I seek you out but you are no where to be seen

    I take care of myself and feel hollow

    Wondering when I can feel you slide up in me


    My heart belongs to

    The smile you give me

    The way you know to touch me

    The sighs leaving your mouth

    The sweat glistening on your skin

    And the high we achieve


    The night ends and we are all we need

    What we love about it

    I really like the intimacy of the concrete details that show that the speaker has been paying attention to this other person.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    It seems like the "friend" is more than that here -- or perhaps the speaker wants them to be! Calling the person "my friend" in this lends a possibly unintentionally sinister tone to the piece. Consider other appellations for the addressed person that more closely match the adoration that is being showered upon them.


    I spend a lot of time imagining what it will be like when I finally meet my person
    I like to imagine the look on his face as he studies the shape of my own, attentively tracing the
    curve of my jaw and the slope of my nose with his eyes as if he plans to sketch me
    He stares at each curl in my hair, the ringlets behind my ears and the small, flame-like coils that
    lick my forehead
    He reaches out to touch me, almost as if to confirm my existence
    Twisting a curl around his finger and brushing his hand across my cheek, he smiles
    Although my skin is warm, he wouldn’t be surprised to feel the cool shock of marble beneath his
    In his eyes, I am likened to an ancient Greek sculpture, each detail on my body exact and
    But he knows that my semblance can never be etched into stone or depicted in a painting
    No one could possibly recreate how my face lights up
    when I talk about what I love or the way my eyes drift out of focus as I disappear into my own
    He is smart enough to know a camera can never truly capture a sunset
    And so instead he looks at me, really sees me
    His eyes dart back and forth as if to drink in all that I am before it’s too late
    I wish he knew that he has all the time in the world

    What we love about it

    The similes here are really vivid and the feelings create a dreamlike, fantasy quality.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider adding some more concrete details about this person who sees the world (and his person) as art. Are there gestures or actions or events that lend him these insights?



    don’t like what i see

    stop. don’t breathe


    twist, side to side


    mind runs away

    combing over the counts

    it was the pasta

    or maybe too much water

    What we love about it

    There is an intimate, almost voyeuristic feeling to this as the speaker stands in front of the mirror and examines their physical flaws.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Perhaps add some more concrete details to strengthen the images.


    They say follow the rules of a normal life

    And build a house to find peace in life

    So I Found a job and built a house

    Still couldn’t find a life to live

    Still couldn’t feel a thirst to quench

    They say love heels a lifeless soul

    So, I loved and kissed to revive the soul

    Still couldn’t see a life beneath

    Still couldn’t find an air to breathe

    They say travel enlightens a dull soul

    So I packed my bags and opened the doors

    Still couldn’t see the bright light ahead

    Still couldn’t trace the shadows left behind

    What we love about it

    This piece does a good job of capturing the journey of a soul looking for purpose. The structure of action, result, action, result works here.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider breaking this into stanzas to make each phase really stand out, maybe before each instance of "They say."

    Me and my hollow heart

    Because of my hollow heart
    when every time I tried
    to walk on the new path
    I end up fulling aside
    Because of my hollow heart
    Why do I feel sad all the time?
    Why do I want to run away from all?
    because I wanted to enjoy my life!
    Because of my hollow heart?
    but now that I realize
    It is me, not my hollow heart
    who puss the feeling away
    It is me, who works against my heart
    I do not have the guts to face the real life

    What we love about it

    I like the progression in this piece from bemoaning the present situation to moving forward.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider adding stanza breaks to emphasize the phases between the refrains.


    A puddle here, a puddle there
    Death will get you, no matter where
    Are you here?
    You are not
    Are you there?
    Thankfully not
    The end arrived, you stare in fear
    But the people rejoice; the people cheer
    Misusing your free mind
    You decided to be blind
    After turning innocent souls into a memory
    You can only weep in your misery
    Deserved, as it should be
    Another justice, another victory
    To you, it is unfair
    To the people, an entertainment
    a fair.

    What we love about it

    The opening juxtaposition of the happy and very unhappy images remind me of Emily Dickinson's work.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Most of the poem concentrates on "you" except for one line about "the people." Consider elaborating on who these people are and their relationship to "you." Why are they so invested?

    Meant for Great Things

    Ever since we were babes,
    Piercing silence with directionless cries,
    We are told we are special, so dry those damp eyes.
    Ah, as we grow, we’re told the world will be ours.
    All we must do is wait through the short hours.
    We come into our own, with eyes and minds wide,
    We are destined for greatness,
    And for it, we strive.
    We work long hard days,
    Nine to five.
    And spend sleepless nights, with worrying minds.
    Yet most of us don’t inherit,
    the greatness we’re told we would fill;
    We live not the lives we were promised,
    But, the ones that we build.

    And all of the while
    Steadfast our planet remains,
    Ignorant of our struggles, petty trifles and pains.
    That which we were promised as children, the one and the same.
    With all of its beauty,
    And all of its awe,
    With all of its wonder
    For each of us all.

    So much like ourselves,
    Earth wont end with a bang,
    But more of a whimper, of unfulfilled pain.
    From the beginning, it seems,
    We were two of a kind,
    Since the dawn of the earth
    crossed the birth of mankind,
    Both were meant to take flight upon wonderful wings,
    I guess we were destined for much greater things.

    What we love about it

    I like how this poem has a stream-of-consciousness feel to it and the complete poem stretches out long like a life, adeptly reflecting the weighty topics of generational struggle and climate change.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    There are a lot of words and details competing for a reader's attention before the pivot to climate change. Consider focusing on the strongest 3-5 images or breaking this into smaller numbered parts.

    Reading Norwegian Wood

    I sit on my bed listening to Itoh and Watanabe,
    Ichiko whispering on her guitar.
    I feel as though they just make sense.

    But not us.

    The Summer haze drifts through my window.
    I’m not a lover of heat you see,
    But my fan clogs along with songs of pops, snaps and cracks,
    Shattering the air into a million breathes.
    I hold onto it and lay back.

    I wonder if imaginary smog will soffocate me. Today or tomorrow.
    I will wake up with August in my rear window,
    Smiling to myself as the setting Sun sets my trails on fire.
    And I reach the other side.

    What we love about it

    I love the dreamy imagery of this poem and the idea of a "setting Sun [setting] my trails on fire."

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider adding more about who "us" is in line 4. What is the relationship here?


    a clock struck the 8th
    a clock struck the 4th
    a clock struck the 9th
    a clock struck the 12th

    both clock struck 7th
    neither clock 9th
    a clock struck 2nd earlier
    a clock struck 5th late

    different models
    different names
    nothing the same
    similarities made differences

    a clock with a longer battery
    a clock with a shorter
    two clocks shut down at the 9th
    others continued

    clocks kept ticking
    until there were no more
    the last struck at the unknown a clock all alone

    What we love about it

    I like the repetition and the parallelism in the images that tick on like an analog clock's second hand.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The clocks seem like they could be a really great metaphor. Consider relating the clock phenomena to more concrete details.


    Tomorrow will be different,
    You’ll get up, open your curtains,
    And smile at the sun for the first time in weeks
    You’ll get out of bed, get dressed,
    And not look in the mirror for flaws you’re so good at seeing
    You’ll go downstairs and see the sun pouring in through the kitchen windows,
    And you’ll feel it warm your ever cold toes
    You’ll put the homemade waffles in the toaster,
    And you’ll giggle to yourself when they come out a little burnt, just like always.
    You’ll take one last look out the window at the garden,
    And you’ll smile knowing that there’s so much life just a few steps away.
    You’ll take the stairs two at a time,
    And try your hardest not to spill the glass of milk all over the carpet.
    You’ll try your best to take care of yourself,
    And all your hard work will pay off,
    Because, whether it feels like it right now or not,
    Tomorrow will be different.
    I promise.

    What we love about it

    I love the little details in this: the burnt waffles, the giggle.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider breaking some of the longer lines into shorter ones, e.g., "You’ll go downstairs and see the sun pouring / in through the kitchen windows"


    There’s a reason rails exist,
    In high attempts lie high risks.
    Red floods my vision sometimes.
    Eating at my maggot infested soul, but
    Daffodils around this stone seem so familiar.

    What we love about it

    The vivid imagery: the maggots, the daffodils, and the stone evoke a gravesite.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    These images are intriguing; consider expanding on them a bit more.

    My Mum, Nonpareil

    Your diligence, your steadfastness,
    Your skillfulness, your assertiveness,
    Your creativity, your wise inquisitiveness…
    Oh, mum, I could go on and on.
    Oh, mum, you make the true meaning of a mother.
    As virtuous, loving, and caring as you are,
    I rejoice as I watch you being you,
    You are my dazzling mum!

    What we love about it

    How you have captured joy and love in this poem. Your mum sounds wonderful!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider adding some details that show her greatness as well as telling about it.

    A Cold Summer

    Maybe there’s something to change
    A bittersweet relationship bridges the gaps between each memory
    Tangled in something that seemed so out of range.
    In the blink of an eye, it left us in jeopardy.
    And the tears flow to leave me in derange
    I don’t have the energy
    To keep myself from the sudden exchange.

    Where did the time go?
    It floated down a river with a heavy sigh.
    But it doesn’t seem so long ago,
    Dreaming what it would be like to fly.
    But it’s early July
    And everything’s gone awry
    Waving goodbye,
    I’d rather die.

    What we love about it

    The tight rhyme scheme, especially in the second stanza; these can be really hard to maintain!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider varying the rhyming words a bit more in the first stanza; "range" and "derange" sound very similar but convey very different meanings, and some of that difference may be lost with those two similar words so close together.

    Speak up we don’t want to hear you

    Express yourself, be creative
    Your art is too messy
    We don’t see why you’re so disruptive
    This school isn’t for your kind
    We can’t solve your problems with a band aid or surgery
    So we can’t help you here

    Mother my brain is so full of voices
    But darling those voices aren’t real
    Father my head is full of scary thoughts
    But sweetheart we have done nothing but love you

    What we love about it

    Crafting a poem that can be read from the bottom up or from the top down is wildly impressive! It feels especially fitting to explore themes of mental health through a form that is more flexible and lends a circular quality to the piece so that we could mirror the way a mind might go back and forth with this kind of anxiety.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Take a look at some examples of concrete poetry and think about how the shape of the poem could contribute to its content. Could you wrap these lines around in a circle or explode the lines across the page? Instead of describing the art as messy and the speaker's behavior as disruptive, could you dig deeper and give us some specific examples that we could see and feel?

    when i look in the mirror

    this year i’ve spent approximately 2160 hours alone
    but 3600 lonely
    there’s a big difference between alone and lonely
    alone is the action of being by yourself
    lonely is the feeling you have when you think nobody cares
    i feel lonely even when i am not physically alone

    What we love about it

    This is such a deeply relatable and personal poem! Your vulnerability is sure to connect with readers who feel similarly and help them not to feel alone, and the distinction between being alone and loneliness at the core of the poem is wonderfully nuanced.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Could the stanza about loneliness and being alone open the whole poem? This feels like a really important idea, but we don't necessarily need to build up to it. As we are repeating this idea of looking in a mirror, see if you can get even more visual and think about what five senses you might invoke so that the reader feels like they can see you.

    Oh ocean, boundless and breathtaking you are

    Do I not fear?
    Do I not learn?
    I keep coming back
    In you, I found my harmony, my freedom, and my balance
    but little did I know they wouldn’t last long

    What we love about it

    Questions are an excellent way to bring a reader in and help them to engage with your ideas! This poem does a great job of using the second person direct address to bring us in line with the ocean and help us to feel those waves!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Why does this relationship not last long as the final line of the poem says? Are we missing some information here? Would the present tense also work for the closing or could we ask this as a question?

    I keep coming back to you.
    In you, I find my harmony, my freedom, and my balance,
    but will they last?

    How many more do you want

    How many hearts will you haunt?
    Get one more lover,
    Two, three, even four

    What we love about it

    You've got some gorgeous music humming in that second line and throughout this little poem! The use of questions is really effective and is helpful in drawing the reader into your work and making them want to answer.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Does that first line need a question mark, and could there be a space between the first and second line, and the forth and fifth line so that we have a three line core with a free standing line on either side? Instead of "give you what you've lost," might that ending connect more directly to the idea of haunting? What does this "you" want?

    Lost on My Way

    I want to explore the world, the tall buildings, the meadows and the silence of seas,

    the warmth of the sun calls my name but I’m too afraid to step in the unknown,

    for I had found the safe company of screens in the sight of none.

    I hide behind the shadows of crowd hoping someday to have my own identity.

    What we love about it

    You've got some beautiful music with "meadows and the silence of seas" mixed with some great sensory details with that warm sun! We are able to enter your world through your use of description here, and it is great to be in conversation with Frost!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    See if you can make your language a bit bolder and more direct:

    I search my worth in those hidden gems,
    hoping to find the reason of my existence.
    I stumble cluelessly through wrong lanes
    and am lost on those diverging paths from Frost.

    We might not even need to mention Frost explicitly if we have those diverging paths to clue the reader in to your reference.


    There’s nothing better in the world, I’d say,
    Than to run and jump and flip and play.
    To be outside and feel the sun,
    To see the world, and have fun.
    And hear the birds, high in the trees,
    And enjoy the cool, crisp summer breeze.
    Just go on out, there’s nothing to fear,
    So much to do, see, and hear.

    What we love about it

    You establish a really playful rhythm and rhyme scheme which feels almost like a playground chant. The images are very vivid and inviting.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    I’m curious about the line “Just go on out, there’s nothing to fear.” It seems to suggest a slightly different tone than the sunny images in the rest of the piece. Is the person the speaker is addressing worried about venturing outside? What is their relationship? It might be interesting to probe that aspect a bit more.

    Open Your Eyes

    A rule that I always forget despite being constantly reminded of it;

    Things only come to you when you don’t want it anymore

    The more you desire to have it, the further it runs away from you

    A rule that I hate so much, because sometimes, you can’t help but wait for things to come to you

    You keep on dreaming, imagining yourself enjoying the scent of it, feeling it running through your veins, breathing it so deeply that it fills every part and part of you

    You start believing that it’s real, dragged so effortlessly to an endless series of lies, lies that become solid roots to your reality

    You’ll slowly begin to reap its fruits, realizing that you’ve been constantly feeding on a fairytale that you weaved by yourself

    And one day, your whole world of lies will collapse, revealing the ugly truth that you’ve been fleeing

    You’ll never understand the reason why you can’t get to it, although it’s been inside you all the time…

    You can’t reach it; you’ll eventually give up everything, hating yourself for not being able to perceive what you want

    What we love about it

    The cynical voice in this poem is really strong, and there is a very distinct character that emerges from it.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    What would happen with this poem if you varied the line lengths a bit more, and perhaps made some of the longer lines into stanzas made of shorter lines? You may want to experiment with line breaks and see what happens when the variation in line lengths and after unexpected words increase the tension of the poem.

    His Poetic Kisses

    The very moment his lips met hers
    His tongue traced her lips
    She quivered
    He was generous
    He was passionate and intentional with
    Each poetic kiss

    Tactfully made to form beautiful complex emotions

    She found somebody who
    Awakened her soul
    She was besotted
    with one kiss
    To his Poetic Kisses

    What we love about it

    This poem has a lovely dreamlike quality about it, and you do a really good job of establishing this mood and recreating the feeling of being swept off one’s feet.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    There are a lot of concrete details of the physical love in this, but I wonder how the poem might be affected if the poem probed a bit deeper into the less-tangible details, such as “each poetic kiss / tactfully made to form beautiful complex emotions” – what might some of those complex elements be, e.g., lust, love, safety, danger?

    the world is beautiful

    flowers and strays were my favourites

    walking around aimlessly too

    i loved to read and to write

    i also loved to talk and talk till no end

    i loved listening to people talk

    and hear their stories and watch their gestures

    i loved loving the world

    because the world is beautiful

    What we love about it

    The sense of loss at the core of this poem is so compelling! We've got a lot of magic with "the colours and lights and shadows /
    even if it sometimes seems upside down" and this will make a reader want to keep going and reread your lines.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Can you get more specific with your images and ideas? While you know the background of this poem, your readers can only "see" and "feel" what you tell them, so what colours are you seeing? What types of flowers and strays are you talking about, and can you describe these gestures? Let us further into your world!

    Is it a coincidence that your oak trees are perfect for stringing me up?

    Your climate harasses my skin
    Your pests harass me also
    Your many ports brought me here
    Your air sickens me like no other
    Your food fattens and slows me

    What we love about it

    This is a haunting and powerful poem which feels deeply resonant and timely! Your images and verbs are well chosen, and each line feels alive as we understand more and more what is at stake for this speaker.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    How is form working in this poem? Could you experiment with exploding these lines across the page or adding in more white space? Do you want to leave off the periods to make things feel open ended or would full stops feel like a hammer coming down?

    Void of Love

    How many more do you want
    how many hearts will you haunt?

    What we love about it

    You establish a wonder rhythm in the opening lines of this poem, and beginning with these questions does an excellent job of drawing the reader in. There is such surprising music between haunt and heart!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Could your title be doing more work to draw a reader in? Just now, it feels like it is explaining the poem too closely, and a more abstract image might add a bit of mystery!

    i know my secrets

    im staying positive, seeing the little beauties in life, but its never enough.
    theres always the mistletoe of dread and fear and hurt over my head, waiting for me to swap
    spit with the grim reaper.

    What we love about it

    This is a raw and vulnerable poem that will connect deeply with other people who feel similar and weighty emotions. You do a great job of allowing a stream of consciousness style to give the piece a very natural and conversational feel, as if the reader is sitting on your bed and listening to you share as a friend. The poem really lights up in the middle with those images!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    How would it feel to open on that mistletoe image? It's so vibrant and original, and those lines do a great job of showing us where this speaker is, trying desperately to stay positive when it feels impossible. You've got some great moments where we are able to experience her world through the five senses, and these moments can be deepened with more description! You've got a lot of ideas here, but invite us in with all our senses!

    Feelings (trigger warning: self harm)

    I realized what I’ve done
    I realize
    Breaking to the ground
    The screams hiding inside me
    The pain controlling my thoughts

    What we love about it

    This is an incredibly brave poem to share, and the short, choppy lines do an excellent job of mirroring the movements of a frantic mind!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Take a slow read through the poem aloud and see if there are any places which need more clarity. For example "Breaking to the ground" could sound like you are making a metaphor between the body and the earth, like this speaker hurting their own body is like breaking new ground in construction or gardening. Another meaning is that they are breaking down and falling to the ground or falling to their knees.

    The Night:

    What if this one faint idea had
    become a reality? What if I had done this instead of that? The Night is a scary
    time. It’s when all control seems to be lost; all inhibitions are thrown aside.
    During the Night, that’s when bad things happen, bad people come out, and
    darkness manifests.

    What we love about it

    You establish such a great driving rhythm by opening your poem with these questions! Questions can make a reader lean in and search for answers, and this poem leaves us wanting more.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Read through this poem aloud and see where you might make your statements bolder! You can be more literal in a poem which calls up some ideas of darkness and danger, so try taking "like" out of "the inescapable wave of emotion and guilt comes flooding in a violent river" or talk about "when all control is lost." See where you might be softening your ideas, and trust your readers!

    Mind Map

    Trying to grasp, every crevice, every corner.
    I deconstruct- Each step to finer and finer shapes
    I cut- In each section I am thorough
    My morphology- is reduced to finer nodes

    What we love about it

    What a beautiful blend of mathematics and poetry! Using the language of geometry to explore the human psyche is such an enchanting move, and your vocabulary feels fresh and really draws a reader in.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    While your ideas a wonderful, you might explore your rhythm and flow a bit more. Try reading your lines aloud to yourself and see where you need dashes or where the poem should have less interruption. For example, what you think of these shifts?

    Trying to grasp every crevice, every corner,
    I deconstruct each step to finer and smoother shapes.
    I cut thorough each section
    Until my morphology is reduced to finer nodes.

    Mixed Feelings

    Tell me you don’t know

    Tell me you don’t like me

    Tell me you do

    There is little time to tell


    All of this is inconspicuous

    Unreadable,  unclear

    This feeling…

    It is what gets me going I fear

    Gets me thinking about life, about what I want, about who I am

    About what is left for me to seek after

    What we love about it

    The questions on this speaker's mind feel so real and deeply relatable! Their relationship (or lack of a clear relationship) is truly believable and will connect with readers on a deep level.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    While we do believe this voice, can you go deeper into what this person is feeling? For example, we read "And that drives me crazy. / Gives me all these feelings," but what are these feelings, and what does this feel like? Does it feel like a tree is growing inside this person or like a lizard is running around their chest? Can you really get into the five senses and let us know what this person is feeling in their body, heart, and mind?

    All she ever did was love and lose

    They fell in love with the way the pale moonlight hit her bare body at night,

    Only ever pretty when she was getting undressed, only ever “i love you” when her shirt was off.

    All she ever wanted was for someone to compliment her the way the colour green complimented her eyes,

    All she ever wanted was him.

    What we love about it

    This is a wonderfully sensual and heartbreaking poem! The images of moonlight and green eyes do a good job of allowing us to "see" who this person is, giving us complicated feelings if we admire her beauty without seeking to know her on a deeper level.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Can you turn up the tension between what we see on the outside vs. what she has going on inside her head? What does she think about "losing" and how does she want to be seen? Can you get more specific with a moment like "the colour green"? Should be imagine a pale green like the pale moonlight or a strong and vibrant green, or perhaps the dark green of a forest at night?

    there'll be one day

    there’ll be one day
    i’ll get in bed and rest my head
    i’ll think back and say
    today’s been a pretty great day

    but until that night
    it’s nothing but woe
    working every hour
    fruitless, nothing to show

    What we love about it

    This poem makes lovely use of a strong turn from that first to second stanza. We already know something is amiss in that first stanza as we are imagining a better future which implies something is wrong in the speaker's present, but we have that confirmed with "woe" and "fruitless" in the next lines!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    This poem just needs a little nudge, because it feels like there is much more poem humming underneath these lines waiting to be written! We have this great turn and a really relatable feeling of hopelessness and struggle, but what has been the spark? Can you add in details so we can see where this speaker is and understand what is getting them down? Can you explore the five senses to give us a deeper understanding of their world?

    The Storm Yesternight

    I believe I can quell the ache,
    So, I devoured all the gust tonight.
    Sensing the sultry sun on my skin and smelling the wet mud,
    its needless to safe keep time.
    Did I really make it past the dark storm yesternight?

    What we love about it

    Wowza, what beautiful use of concrete details and vivid language! You do an amazing job of engaging our senses with the smell of wet mud and sensual heat of the sun, and the idea of devouring a gust is so original and wildly memorable! Yes!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    How is form contributing to the pacing and meaning of this poem? At thirteen lines, we could play with the idea of pressing this into a sonnet (even without making it a traditional rhyming sonnet) and thinking about what you might want to emphasize with different line breaks.

    once i left

    once i left
    you came to realise that what we had
    you might not ever share with anyone else

    no one will whisper on your ear
    laugh at your bad jokes
    love you
    the way i did

    What we love about it

    This is a deeply relatable poem that will have people saying "amen" and thinking of a specific person from their past! Your conversational tone and "i’ll be long gone, baby," strike just the right note so that a reader feels like they really are this speaker.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Can you dial in some specificity so we feel more of this speaker's personality, maybe channeling a little of that "i’ll be long gone, baby" energy? Could you state a specific bad joke or share one special little phrase whispered in the ear?


    Just me and you and our love
    In the pouring rain
    Roof sheltering us from the elements
    Just me and you and our love

    Plucking on my heart strings like a new guitar.
    Play as much you can
    Just don’t pull too hard

    Let go? Never
    Change? Never
    Immature? Sure

    What we love about it

    This is a wonderfully heartfelt and relatable poem, and the little punch of that last stanza is lovely! The last line does a great job of creating a circular structure with the title, and you've even got that final rhyme to really bring it all home.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    There is a little bit of mixing metaphors in the middle of the poem, and it might be good to smooth this out or focus on one and get specific. Are we in the pouring rain getting wet or sheltered under the roof? Can we tweak the idea of the guitar to something more surprising that continues the idea of the storm?

    the breath

    the sound echoes as you try to form a single thought
    the rush of fear takes over like a demon casting a spell
    That last moment, last breath of the reality you once knew

    What we love about it

    What an epic poem in so few lines! It almost feels like Yeats' "The Second Coming," and your use of the second person address is really effective for drawing the reader into the drama.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Can you cut the strings and take leap with some of your phrasing? How would it sound to say, "In a moment, all time stands still," or to put "am I going to see tomorrow" in italics and then say it "speeds through your head:"
    *am i going to see tomorrow* speeds through your head. Instead of "In slow motion" could we see "your worst fear" crawling or slithering or limping through "the world's reality"? Take a read through your poem and turn up the dial on your imaginative and magical thinking! Make us "see" that demon!

    It wasn’t polyamory, it was cruelty

    It was cruelty when you told me I needed to change
    When you had checked out of our shared future
    It was cruelty when you said you didn’t have an emotional life
    When I needed to be let into it
    It was cruelty when you said I couldn’t communicate
    When my pain was unacceptable to you
    It was cruelty when you blamed me for not loving myself
    When you made that impossible to change.

    What we love about it

    This is a brave and honest poem that will connect with many people because it's not afraid to go sad and deep! The direct address and repetition of "It was cruelty" does a great job of driving home your message.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Getting the name "Jen" and the stanza where you go deep into those insulting comments about calves, jowls, and eyes is so compelling (and stings!) because of its specificity. It feels real! Can you bring more of that to lines like "Was ill-suited to work that would give me purpose / Wasn’t good enough for work I was overqualified for"? What dreams are being squashed here? While repetition is great, you could create a bit more surprise for the reader by varying the phrase at the end, even something like, "You were cruel to say," can spice things up and help us not to tune out the repeated line.


    A whisper erupts
    A roar that deafens
    A handful hear the plea
    Many aim to quiet it
    And they will win

    What we love about it

    Killer verbs in this little poem! You do a great job of mixing up our senses in a memorable way, especially with that erupting whisper. Very memorable!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Is there more poem lurking behind these lines? Might a more specific title give us a clue about the context? We could use slightly more direct language by saying "a roar deafens" to match the construction of the previous line, and how do these nameless people try to quiet the plea? We might need just a little more here to make this poem really memorable and evocative!

    My Life

    Then I waited, seconds became minutes, minutes turn to hours, and today 2 years have passed, yet still no sign of you.

    I learn to live with the void you left,
    Pain, pain, pain, pain, pain,…
    Pain filled the hole in my heart

    What I have left is stalking
    But It’s like stabbing myself over and over again.

    What we love about it

    Wow the repetition of "pain, pain, pain" is so surprising and effective! It's also wonderfully self-aware for this speaker to call themselves out for "stalking" as this is what this love obsession has risen to! The voice here is really compelling and makes us want to read more!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The ending feels a bit too jokey for the rest of the poem, and while "To sum up, I MISS YOU" could make us imagine a much younger speaker, it feels a bit jarring to close this poem. What was it about this desired person that was so compelling? Might a bit of description draw us deeper into this speaker's world?

    An Age Forgotten

    The vast population eats it all
    As if a beautiful herb
    Unresponsive and ragefully ignorant
    Towards its poisonous roots.

    The chorus has ended; it’s soft melodies
    Heard as whispers and echoes to the chosen ones
    To them, blasphemy.

    Unhinged, empty and meaningless

    What we love about it

    This poem describes a relatable grievance in wonderfully metaphoric language, especially that "beautiful herb" with "poisonous roots." The idea of being "unhinged" is so interesting and could really do a great job of gifting a reader new language to describe an old wound!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    You are flitting around a lot of great ideas without really settling on one or doing a deep dive into what you are talking about specifically. Can you give us a hint of something more concrete that this speaker is hoping to change? We get a little sliver with "The Ophelia," but then we leap away! Do you have a specific herb in mind? Take a read through your lines with an eye for more specific language and bring us into this world!

    Of Ink and Ocean

    As paddle dip’s swiftly in river bright, so does my pen in ink of velvet black.

    Spray crashes off the bow to leap o’er head sting my eye and strike my tongue.
    Just as scrawling words may spring from page’ to embrace me in ethereal wings.

    What we love about it

    You've crafted an amazing flow and urgency with these long lines and bright, expressive images! Your comparison feels fresh and original and is really driven home with your expert choice in active verbs. We also love your shift in form from long lines to the short, staccato finish.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Might you experiment with how those short, final six lines are organized on the page? Should they drop down in a straight line or could they be spread across the page and dance more wildly?

    Should the third and forth line flow together without a period to divide them? The thought seems to continue:

    Just as scrawling words may spring from page to embrace me in ethereal wings,
    My pen flits ‘cross the page, thoughts in a fevered trance,

    The Human Condition

    Weather’s been looking rather fair.
    Take the train, pay my fare.
    Arrived at work by city square.
    Eight hours on a chair.

    Got another meeting with the team.
    Just another corporate scheme.
    The boss caught me lacking in a dream.
    Lucky he didn’t scream.

    What we love about it

    You've packed a lot of life into only six stanzas! The rhyme coupled with the circular structure of the opening and closing stanzas does an excellent job of making us feel and hear the idea of being trapped in that cyclical pattern.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Rhyme can be a wonderful tool, but it can also make the reader's mind switch off to the poem's content because their ear will work to anticipate the next word instead of fully tuning in. In some ways, this poem asks us to do that, to get lulled in, but you might see if we could also have the speaker attempting to break out of this trap by breaking the perfect rhymes and see what happens! Even if you only break the pattern for a couple lines, it will heighten the feeling of being stuck when we land on that repetition in the final stanza.

    a year-long struggle

    i see it now, it’s obvious
    my desperate need to be
    a member of the audience,
    a failing copyist with projected cockiness
    only to myself

    a deep twisting unease
    followed me doggedly
    a cruel twisting shadow
    pulling hard and holding tight

    What we love about it

    You've really turned up the dial with rhyme, and pairs like obvious/audience have a wonderfully surprising sound as they are just slightly slant! Our ears are really perking up in these lines which gives a great singsong contrast to the dark subject matter.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Read your poem aloud with an eye for strengthening the authority of this speaker's voice. Can you cut words like "sometimes"? Can you use simpler and more direct language or increase the urgency with the present tense? Take a look at these lines for an example:

    can you unwind
    or will you decide
    to leave it unlined, unsigned, undefined?

    i see myself
    in your blush
    the turn of your eyes

    Unnamed poem

    I try to flush you out
    Hoping that if it’s a poison to me
    It’s also a poison to you

    But you just keep crawling deeper
    Hiding in the back of my skull
    Like an obstinate spider
    Waiting to bite every now and then
    With all the venom you made
    From all the poison I keep feeding us

    What we love about it

    What a wonderfully haunting and original idea! The spider is the perfect image to pair with your idea, and the ending gives the speaker's predicament a real sense of urgency!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    How is that first line serving the poem and would it feel more dynamic to open with the second line? Instead of "like an obstinate spider," can you continue the intimacy of the direct address and say something like, "my obstinate spider"?

    Am I a terrible person?

    Yet still loneliness is what I feel
    How can I be lonely when you are so kind
    Loving me gently
    Treating me nicely
    Why do I not love you the way that I should
    Why can I not hold you the way you hold me
    You have given me everything
    But why do I want more

    What we love about it

    This is a deeply relatable and timeless problem so deserving of a poem! You do a great job of allowing for a really vulnerable and honest voice to come through, and it is excellent that we don't "land" on an easy answer, allowing the reader's mind to spark off in many different directions!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Where are we and what can we see, taste, feel, smell, or hear? Can you give us a hint at where this speaker is and bring us into the occasion of the poem by igniting the five senses? What specific actions mean loving me gently and treating me nicely to this speaker, get specific!


    Agony, I think, might be the word
    For neither being seen, nor being heard.
    Not by just anyone, but by you

    What we love about it

    This feels so spot on as a little unrequited love poem! The direct address works well to pull the reader into this role.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Could the opening idea be better expressed in a question? There may be more poem waiting to be written here, but take a read of this alternate phrasing to see how you like it!

    Is Agony the word
    For being neither seen
    Nor heard?

    My Perfect Love

    Don’t Underestimate the power of love
    Where it blooms and glooms all the above

    I do not underestimate the power love,
    Because what love was, is, or coulda been
    Could all rebirth again, in the power of love.

    It could be rain it could be snow
    It could be winter all in a row,

    What we love about it

    Bloom and gloom is such a great rhyming pair because they are joined in sound and so contrasting in meaning, lovely choice! The lament and grief of lost love is so powerful in this poem, and it will be deeply relatable to many people as they imagine their own personal heartbreaks.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Take a read of your poem aloud to see where you might tighten ideas and smooth out the rhythm. Ask yourself if any lines feel unclear. Could you highlight the second line by condensing the opening idea?

    Don’t underestimate love's power to bloom
    And glooms over all of the above/and all of the above

    Starring the tree

    Her eyes like a butterfly (flying around but never landing)

    See how well I play my role:
    My moves are as smooth as those of a dead leaf.
    Still I hold perfectly still as the trunk
    I can’t possibly fall over her

    What we love about it

    What a beautifully original and surprising persona poem! You do a great job of drawing the reader in with mystery and intrigue, and the details you've added allow us to believe the voice as it uses butterflies and dead leaves as its frame of reference for how to describe its world.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    How would it feel to open the poem here: "My moves are as smooth as those of a dead leaf."

    Instead of opening on the actress, can this tree lead with its own role and give us these little hints (butterfly and leaf, can you think of more?) of who it is? Dig deep into the five senses from the tree's point of view and experiment with painting a really vivid picture for your reader before the big reveal! Can you give enough hints and description that we don't need to be told explicitly that "I’m a petrified tree." Is this a person in a tree costume who might be later dressed as a star, or should we understand this on a more literal level?

    Teenage Love

    It was as if a light switch was clicked in his head .
    Went from perfect to somethings up then heartbreak.

    Now I have to learn how to live without him again,
    how to find happiness again.
    I’ve tried other boys,
    but it just hasn’t worked.

    how can you move on when all you can think about is the past ,
    but that’s all you want to think about ,
    but you know you shouldn’t because you need to
    “move on”
    “find another guy” ,
    It’s hard to see him happy when I’m broken inside.

    What we love about it

    This poem is packed with such wonderfully raw emotions and beautifully honest sentiments that we believe this voice right away. Lost teenaged love is a universal theme that will touch many readers, and questions are a great way to pull the audience in close with the speaker.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Experiment with different ways into this poem with the idea of showing and not telling in mind! Can you ask the reader more directly and bring them into this speaker's brain? Can you get more descriptive and allow us to "see" these people? How would something like this make us feel their urgency and grief?

    How could it have ended like this? How
    could it have ended like it did? Infinite
    loops of this question as my nights
    go from falling asleep safely tucked in his arms
    to sleepless night wondering how, how?
    When can I press the pause button , how can I?

    Time Circle



    What we love about it

    Repetition is used so well in this poem and really makes us understand the obsessive depths of this person's love. Questions are also a great way to pull us readers into the narrative and make us want to find an answer!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    What are these old dreams and memories? Can you give us a peek into these lives with a few concrete images or examples? Repetition is a great way to create emphasis, but giving us some specific ideas to picture at the beginning will help us feel more invested in this relationship and what is at stake.

    Analog Girl


    What we love about it

    You've got some wonderful phrases here, "onslaught of pixels / forcing colors relentlessly" has such great energy! This is a timely poem which is much needed in our fast, modern world, and it will connect with many people.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Is there more poem waiting to be written here? You set up some really important questions, but do they need to be answered, or do you want to leave that to your readers? We have images and pixels, but should this person hazard a guess as to what they are seeing, even if there are several contrasting guesses to show their confusion?

    Eons Beyond Time

    Feelings yes they fade
    But come back
    every time I see your face
    Outer space and the stars
    They all gather for you

    Yes Your pain is mine
    All the time
    That is when you cross my mind
    In my heart & in my eyes

    What we love about it

    What a wonderfully cosmic love poem! You've set the stakes really big here, and this makes for a bold poem that people will want to share at special occasions and in important moments.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Would it feel more interesting to open on an image and/or that wonderful stanza with the stars? How would it feel to open the poem with:

    Outer space and the stars
    all gather for you--
    Feelings, yes, they fade
    but come rushing back
    every time I see your face


    Light, towards his eyes,

    darkness all around.

    Running through straight line trenches,

    Germany on the other side,

    Searching for his lost lover.

    What we love about it

    This is a totally unique poem which forces our minds to leap and make this complex connection. Love as a battle is one great idea, but putting love and lust in competition with each other is really smart and compelling here!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Thank you for submitting this version with an explanation, as your poem is both complex and subtle! Could this "much needed explanation" actually mean that there is more poem needing to be written here? We get the wedding photo and feelings of guilt, but we think you could be more explicit through more stanzas to help the reader understand what is going on without an explanatory note.


    Vision is not perception 

    Nothing is ever still

    Space is not empty

    The glass is not half anything

    What we love about it

    We love the way the poet uses via negativa, or the focus on what something is not, to describe the poem’s subject.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    We notice you use “it” many times in this poem, and we’re not sure what “it” refers to. How could you make this clearer and less vague?

    You Don't

    i miss u

    text me back

    come back

    u don’t have to love me

    but be near me

    and don’t love someone else

    when i check my phone and there’s nothing from u

    my heart sinks

    but i think about u alone eating fruits at a picnic table under the sun

    and smile because your legs never folded right under the table

    What we love about it

    We love the way this poem returns to the image of “you” eating fruit in the sun, like a visual refrain.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Try reading this poem out loud and pay close attention to your line breaks. Some of your lines are very short and some are very long; do you have a clear intention for these choices, or did they just happen? Try to listen to where you might naturally break your lines as you read your poem out loud. How might you revise your line breaks with your own authentic voice in mind?

    The Doll House

    The handwritten note on the empty Doll House 

    up on the shelf, said “Comes with lots of extras”.

    When I asked, the woman behind the counter took down the blue bin 

    full to the top with furniture, and families, and so much more.

    It was a real bargain.

    I remember telling you 

    what a great deal I got on it.

    You were not impressed.

    What we love about it

    We love the emotional openness in this poem: the writer lets us in to a difficult, raw moment that feels intimate and authentic.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    We love the way the dollhouse operates as a frame for this poem. What would happen if you emphasized the physicality of the dollhouse more and allowed it to do more work in the poem? What would happen if you included description or sensory imagery related to how the dollhouse looks, feels, and occupies space?

    Used To

    The next love shall receive all. That is what I have learned and accepted. He has not, but I have

    but I am stronger than he.

    I wanted you, thought I wanted you but now I do not

    I am at a different locus now even though I loved where I was

    still existing.

    What we love about it

    We love the strength of the voice in this poem. It seems clear that the writer knows what they want, and they have grown in self-knowledge through the events described in the poem.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    It seems there are three or four people in this poem (I, you, he, and she), but sometimes we’re a little confused about who is who. Is “you” a different person than “he” or “she?” How might you add a little more information to make this clearer?


    now I no longer have you in my dreams

    dancing to happiness that does not come from me

    sarabesque, piroutte and a plie.

    Dancing I will never see for I never saw it when you were in my dreams

    it breaks me to know that you are dancing to your own tune of your own happiness but it consoles me that you are happy

    I have not taken anything away from you

    Please make sure the tune you dance to never goes silent for the silence would hurt us both once again.

    What we love about it

    We love the depth of emotion in this poem. The poem embraces the complexities of love and longing, and doesn’t shy away from what is difficult to express.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    We notice your line breaks are sometimes really long and sometimes very short, yet the rhythm of this poem seems to be fairly regular and musical. What would happen if you made the line breaks in this poem more regular? Could the line breaks help match or support the musicality in the poem


    I no longer need to have the best friend 

    Nor the best companion from a true friend 

    All I seek is one thing:

    Feel what is genuine.

    What we love about it

    We love the self-awareness expressed in this poem. This poem makes us feel grounded in hard-earned wisdom.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    We’d love to read more! What allowed this narrator to learn the self-awareness and wisdom so beautifully expressed? Are there images, descriptions, narratives, or metaphors that might help explain how the narrator learned what they learned?

    Fearful Triangularities

    Your phone asks you “have you spoken with Allah today?”

    Your brother asks you “have you seen a therapist lately?”

    Your partner asks you “do you want to talk?” 

    Your answer, uniformly, is no. 


    No, I wish I could. But i told myself I’m not allowed out of mind prison;

    Better I stay here where i am safe from people out there,

    And where they are safe

    from me.

    You’ll want to read this poem out loud.

    You’ll want to share it with someone, especially someone you love.

    Because some part of you knows

    This isn’t Sustainable, Something has to Change.

    What we love about it

    We love how vividly this poem describes the horrors of a prison of the mind: the descriptions and imagery are so real and compelling. The vivid, authentic description elicits such compassion for the narrator of this poem.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    This poem describes suffering so well, we can’t help but think the writer has first-hand experience with this kind of pain. We sincerely hope you take gentle care of you, dear writer. You are talented and unique, and the world needs your words. Keep writing and find ways to share your writing with your loved ones and with the wider world. You matter, and your poetry matters.


    But every step so taken is to secure a life never lived

    Age has taught me how to institutionalize 

    But every institution so built is to colonize a system meant to be liberated

    Age has taught me how to educate a soul

    But every lesson so taught is to distance the it from its own.

    After all these years there is only one truth to be told

    That time passes by and the so does the age

    But one remains the same, though the texture may change.

    What we love about it

    There is beautiful rhyme in this poem, and we love the way you use both internal and end-line rhyme.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Some of the moments that speak to us the most vividly are the parts of the poem where you use description or metaphor to illustrate your ideas. What would happen if you included more imagery, description, or figurative language? How might imagery and metaphor help support the poem’s overall meaning?

    [You would light up my world]

    We became strangers to each other

    And it broke apart my heart

    You have nothing left to say

    Oh why did you go away.

    Was it because I wasn’t good enough Or maybe I don’t deserve your love

    I still think of you everyday

    And I’ll love you come what may.

    What we love about it

    We love the poignancy in the last few lines; the emotion in this poem seems deep and sincere, and we find that very moving.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    We’d love to read more! Are there any details about the people in this poem you could include, or descriptions of their interactions? Could you include more imagery or figurative language? What is it like to experience this depth of emotion? Show us!

    Precious moments don't last forever

    The echoes of laughter                                                      

    Secret silent jokes                                                   

    Smile laugh and tease,                                                   

    Each other as we please.                                                 

    But the days were gone.

    What we love about it

    We love the dichotomy of joy and intimacy vs. separation and despair in this poem. The juxtaposition of these opposing emotions is really evocative!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider ways you might show your reader how the people in this poem are feeling through imagery, metaphor, or descriptive language. What does torment look like? What does misery feel like?

    What Do They See?

    I see you

    Every night now

    And all I could have done to save you

    More things gone this Winter

    Perhaps we will have the truer Spring in the end

    What we love about it

    The opening of this poem, which imagines what other people see in their mind’s eye at night, is so unique and interesting!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    We really enjoyed the metaphor about Spring and Winter in this poem. What would happen if you extended it? What could you tell us about Spring and Winter, as characters or as ideas personified, that might make their roles in this poem more vivid?

    A Promise

    You said you’d never leave,

    A promise you made to me.

    Yet here i am, left to bleed

    out all of the emotion I have left to give

    The love I have for you,

    Is stronger than anything I’ve ever felt.

    What we love about it

    This poem faces loss and broken promises with such unflinching bravery, and we love the poet’s willingness to explore the difficult emotions that come with such loss.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The emotion described in the poem is so vivid—how might you make your metaphors and figurative language similarly vivid and surprising? What descriptions might truly capture the emotion in the poem, without using cliches or predictable language?


    god is dead

    or only ever existed

    in the fragile minds of gullible men

    but the goodness he inspired must not die with him

    What we love about it

    This poem tackles big, philosophical ideas in just a few terse, clear lines.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    We wonder about the title of this poem. “Gullible” really singes the reader in the poem, and using it as a title might take away from its impact in the poem itself. What title might work here instead? Could a different title do more work for this poem?

    I Love You

    Now I just love you from a distance

    You still probably don’t know how much I fell for you

    Or how I can’t stop thinking about you

    I know you’re wrong for me, but I can’t accept it

    I am hopelessly in love with you

    And I always will be

    What we love about it

    This poem confronts the intensity of unrequited love with such honesty and bravery.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    What would happen if you included more figurative language in this poem? Could metaphor, simile, imagery, and descriptive language help support the emotional resonance of this poem? What sensory description could help make the emotions more vivid?

    Sleeping With The Lights On

    Another night of exhaustion

    As a result of my procrastination

    I slam onto my bed and sink into my pillow 

    With the grace of a car crashing into a willow

    What we love about it

    The description of the pull of sleep is so surprising: we love the juxtaposition of grace, car crash, and willow.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    You mention procrastination and work, but it’s not quite clear to us what these things are pointing to. This poem seems to circle around two problems: one of work preventing sleep, and one related to worthiness. How are these two problems related? Why is work preventing sleep? Why does work make the narrator contemplate their worthiness as a human?

    [Chaos Madness]

    Goodbye expectations from external sources

    Goodbye people pleasing


    Breathe in change and growth

    Peace begins with acceptance

    Life is ever changing

    We were born to evolve

    The mindset of going back is lazy

    Progress is necessary for the world

    Cancel culture leaves no room for grace, repentance, and growth

    Present. Help me be present.

    Welcome to life.

    What we love about it

    We love the bold, direct style of this poem and the clear, declarative voice.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Our favorite parts of this poem are when you use repetition to create energy and tension in the poem. What would happen if you included more repetition, patterning, and musical language to increase that energy?

    The Show Must Go On

    You worked late at night to get here

    You pushed through adversity

    You pushed through the tears

    You showed up when you didn’t feel like.

    Your kept going when you couldn’t sleep

    You kept trying when you kept failing

    You kept going even though you felt helpless

    Your kept going because you told yourself, the show must go on.

    What we love about it

    The narrator’s effort, courage, and perserverance come across so clearly in this poem.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    You offer a metaphorical description of “the show,” but what does the show look like for this unique narrator? What does pushing through adversity or pushing through tears look like? What does it feel like? How could you describe it so it comes alive for your readers?

    I Am

    I lost love

    I am finding myself 


    I lost myself

    I lost the love for myself


    I gained knowing my Creator

    I gained making my salaah


    I gained a slow carm heart

    I gained a bond with my brother

    What we love about it

    We love how this poem confronts the end of a marriage with depth and honesty, even though it is painful.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    We love the way this poem begins almost like a list, with the repetition of “I lost” and “I gained.” What would happen if you leaned into that repetitive pattern even more, and let it shape the entire poem? What would happen if you used other repetitions or patterns to create rhythm and movement in this poem?

    The Great Decline: Our American Culture

    Neurology is popular

    So is psychotherapy

    Maybe I will talk

    Or maybe silent


    Something is spreading 

    It brings us together


    So we die as one

    What we love about it

    We love how this poem simultaneously describes the breaking apart of society and the coming together of humanity. That dichotomy is really interesting!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    This poem seems to occupy such a complex ideological space; we wonder if including more figurative writing in this poem might help the reader experience the world of the poem more vividly. How might you use metaphor, simile, description, or imagery to help your reader understand the concepts in the poem?


    Certainty becomes uncertain, 

    The definite, unsure.

    Like slowly noticing,

    The intricacies of a stone.

    It’s grooves, shades, textures – a bland object, grown.

    What we love about it

    We love the way this poem subverts the idea of knowledge and wisdom and brings the reader to a new understanding of what true wisdom really is.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    One of the most powerful parts of this poem is when you describe noticing the intricacies of a stone. What would happen if you included a few more detailed, descriptive moments like this one?


    The black lake swallowed me whole

    While the moon in the quiet night sky bear witness

    The wind caresses a fool

    While she was picking up her heart in pieces

    What we love about it

    Wow, this poem is so evocative. We love the imagery of the lake, moon, wind, and night sky.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    We’d love to know more! It’s clear that something has happened to the “she” in this poem, but we have no idea what. What would happen if you gave us a few more hints?

    [How can i stop this sad feeling]

    to start a life without them devastated everyday until the pain may finally subside


    or to be the man that gives up on everything


    life love hope


    and just go through it all with no feelings


    but that is the price of falling in love


    you lay your heart out bare


    sometimes youre lucky and its taken care of


    sometimes its ignored and left behind uncared for


    and sometimes its just slightly used when convenient

    What we love about it

    This poem confronts such depth of difficult and painful emotion, and the ending is so surprising but also so true.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    We have a clear sense of the object of the speaker’s love, but we don’t feel like we know the speaker very well. How could you make the speaker — his own unique personality — come through this poem more?


    I was lead to the ocean.
    The skies were clear, the colours bright, I wanted to go to the ocean.

    I dipped into the water, but it didn’t affect me much. I wanted to go to the ocean.

    What we love about it

    The clipped lines create a pleasingly brisk rhythm that matches the sense that the speaker is "unraveling."

    Suggestions to strengthen

    I'd love to see more concrete details; what colors does the speaker see? How big are the waves? What do these burdens feels like in the body?

    Fly High

    You better stop looking for me

    in the end,


    I don’t even wanna know the route back home

    so lemme go, find my high . . .

    What we love about it

    You've chosen an amazingly conversational tone that draws us into wanting to read this poem again and again. The rhythms and rhymes are really driving this poem!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Can you let us into this speaker's life a bit more? Are they speaking to a friend or a lover? "I don't even wanna know the route back home" is such a powerful idea! Who is trying to get them to come down?

    We Aren't Together

    Dad is happy.
    But does he know I am
    “Holidays are hard”

    “I love your mom very much”
    Has she forgotten?
    Her son and daughters
    Longing for her to pick up
    Where she left

    A mother first.

    What we love about it

    Wow! This poem punches so hard and does a lovely job of giving us the fragmented feelings and thoughts of a child in the middle of a parent's divorce and new relationships! This will be an important and deeply relatable poem for people who have gone through this.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Using a fragmented style for a speaker whose world is fragmented is a great move, but it can also get confusing. Could you play with how your stanzas are arranged on the page and align different streams of thought? Can you make it a bit clearer who is speaking?

    Analog Girl




    What we love about it

    We love the musicality of this poem: strong rhyme and strong meter make this poem sound like a song.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    We would love to read more! This poem sets up a vivid and interesting problem, but it leaves us hanging. Does Analog Girl grapple with her choices? Does she fall victim to technology? What happens if she does?

    Time Circle





    What we love about it

    We love the way the strong rhythm and meter in this poem help give the poem momentum and movement.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    What would happen if you let the rhyme break free in some places in this poem? You have such a strong sense of meter and rhythm; we suggest altering the rhythm intentionally in certain places to add to the drama or tension in the poem. What would happen if certain lines ran wild and used a completely different rhythm pattern?

    Teenage Love

    Nights went from falling asleep feeling safe in his arms to sleepless nights with the thought of how it could’ve ended like it did,

    almost as if that thought plays on an infinite loop in my head.

    When can I press the pause button, how can I?

    I can never imagine another guy making me feel the same way he did.

    The way his voice lowered right when the clock struck nine, to how he would always wait till I got into my car.

    Walking me home because he knew I was scared to be alone,

    now I’m walking alone wondering if there’s ever gonna be a guy like him again.

    It feels as if no one understands

    What we love about it

    Your description of how safe and warm you felt in this relationship is so detailed and specific, and it really makes the reader understand how special that feeling was.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    You do a great job describing memories of this relationship, but there isn’t as much about the speaker herself and her internal experience. What do you want your reader to understand about the narrator of this poem? What transformation does she experience, or what insights does she gain?


    You feel alone, isolated, so you keep a distance from the thing that
    once brought Joy
    “You’re Just Bored”
    Your Friends say as they only see the mask you wear and believing it’s
    The long shirts and sweaters you wear in the summer, You silent cry for help but it
    Work, Sleepless nights, Sleeping days

    What we love about it

    Your straightforward title and clear thought process does an incredible job of walking us through such an important topic. Your lines really showcase the power of poetry to communicate difficult feelings in a way which can connect with and help others!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    You've got a wonderful way of showing these two sides of the coin of depression, that the person is feeling and what others see and how they perceive what's going on from the outside. Can you let us see who this speaker is a bit more? What is it that once brought them joy? Do they feel too hot and sweaty or those hot prickles in those long shirts and sweaters? Can you get into the five senses to help us feel what they feel?


    I wish I could forget
    Just how long it’s going to take
    For them to look at us
    Like they look at each other

    I wish I could forget
    Just how easily they do
    And how hard it is for us
    To get the images out of our minds

    I wish I could forget
    Just how many are gone
    And how long we’ve fought
    Only to lose once again

    What we love about it

    Repetition creates a driving rhythm in this poem, and the pretty title does a great job of contrasting with the melancholy content!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Could we explore what's going on on a more literal level and give the reader a few more hints as to what kind of loss is being explored here? You set up a really wonderfully mysterious sadness, but by the end of the poem we are still left wondering what has happened. Instead of "To get the images out of our minds," can you give us some of the images?

    My Map Home

    My fingers trace the surface of your skin
    Exploring every contour
    Mapping every inch

    What we love about it

    What a lovely and sensual little snapshot of a poem! For just five lines, you've packed a lot of longing and some big ideas into these verses.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The poem does not need to explode with description, but it would be great if we were invited into a more specific landscape. What is being mapped? Should we picture a valley or a desert?

    My Man

    How can you bring me such
    Sunshine and peace?
    You are just a man…
    But see
    That is the thing
    You are not just a man
    You are
    My man

    What we love about it

    This poem is just bursting with love! Your lines will be relatable to readers in love, and also give single readers a kind of love to aspire to, really glowing!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    "How can you bring me such sunshine and peace" has such a wonderful ring to it that it might be more dynamic to open the poem on these lines! Could you experiment with the order of the lines in this poem and feel out which will draw the reader in with unique phrases? What else makes this person special? Get specific!


    Where Caesar marched through the Alps
    He could do nothing but watch Rome collapse

    Where the West once stood as gold,
    Now tell stories of the days old.

    Where the temple of Athena stood,
    Now is but a forest of burnt wood

    What we love about it

    You've packed so much history and a huge, amazing idea into a relatively short poem, great work! While the poem is held together by rhyme, we are taking a big leaps in this journey.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Rhyme is a great tool, but sometimes it can overpower a poem or manipulate your lines too much. Repeating a word like gold at the end of a line in a rhyming poem, for example, really stands out, and it might be good to mix things up! What happens when you break the pattern and could this be a good way of jarring the reader to attention?

    Congress-An Ideology

    “This ideology gave us freedom
    From the best of our freedom fighters’ wisdom
    The democracy can prosper and rejoice
    If people choose congress as their choice.’’

    What we love about it

    It is refreshing to see a poem on such a classic and important theme! An exploration of congress is a great occasion for a poem and proves writing and poetry is a revolutionary act.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    How are quotation marks working in this poem? Sometimes they are used to denote a "found" poem or a poem which takes lines from outside sources in a kind of collage, but we're not sure that's what you are trying to convey here. Can you think more specifically about how revolutionary thinking is at work here and might it be compelling to mention a specific revolution? Can you ground the reader in a time and place and bring them into this speaker's world?

    the days move on with regularity

    a short burst of life, of meaning
    and then it disappears
    as if it were never there
    again, i am locked in my passage.
    i merely move with the wind
    and just like it, i will disappear from view
    without a trace
    without a thought
    without a memory.
    the wind playfully pulls me back and forth
    sometimes i am thrown
    sometimes i am tossed
    sometimes i glide gracefully in the air

    What we love about it

    This poem is bursting with energy and movement! We can really flow with this persona and feel emotionally invested by the final lines.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The first line in quotation marks is really long compared to the rest of the poem. How are those quotation marks adding meaning, and should we interpret this as something overheard? Could we leap into the poem with greater urgency with something like:

    the days tumble on indistinguishable
    from one to the next, on and on a long
    continuous chain . . . then

    change! Short burst of life
    of meaning . . .

    Autumn Breeze

    Lithe and light swaying like feathers.
    Cascading down undaunted and determined, a warm waterfall.

    No one knows the life that they lived, stepped on and brushed aside,
    They paint your walk home with colour.
    Covering the ground like a thin blanket, consoling your tired walk.

    What we love about it

    Excellent use of colors and textures and evocative language here! We get a wonderful picture of the season and sense that this speaker has really learned to take a breath and take things in for themselves. Perfectly meditative!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The idea that no one cares is really compelling, but we wonder if it might need to be asked as a question in the opening so as not to make readers want to argue straight away (many readers will want to think of themselves as people who do appreciate the subtle changes of the seasons!) What if we posed a question in those opening lines?

    Withering is their beauty, breaths of red and orange,
    Who looks at autumn leaves as objects of worth?

    What a beautiful day!

    That every sunshine would be as beautiful as a moon,
    And every bad time shall pass by soon.
    Is there a day that is not regretting at all?
    I think no, because nothing is perfect after all . . .

    We often curse the time for it often delays,
    But we do know that it is the destiny in which everything lays.
    ‘This too shall pass’ with which any situation can be mend

    What we love about it

    You've blended some beautifully evocative images like flowers and moons with thoughtful ideas rolling into a beautiful message and reminder for gratitude. This poem works well paired with that meditative image and will be a great inspiration for readers!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Could you also lead with this great idea?

    As a flower is incomplete *without* nectar,
    We are incomplete without that second opportunity,

    How would opening with these two lines give us a different perspective on your opening questions? Would it feel nice to move into rhyme instead of opening the poem on rhyming lines? Experiment with cutting and shifting some lines to see what different effects you can stir up!


    My soul could be carefully extracted from the scene in shattered matter,
    Only observable under a microscope showing the decay of your cells from mine.
    Despite the crushing oxygen we breathed in, I remember the morning crispness of fall air,
    And the smell the remnants of the empty coffee cup on your desk,
    The bitterness I gulped down still soaked in my taste buds.
    In one hour, I didn’t even hear the clock tick or the sun rise, and I didn’t dare stir to end our silence.
    We laid there in our last hours, moved slow and dark, till the next hour screamed goodbye.
    And this second, hour, and day, was forever envious of the last.

    What we love about it

    The emotions, layers, and complexities of this poem are so intoxicating and make us want to read and reread these lines! You've got some huge ideas moving around in here, and it is especially wonderful to land on "this second, hour, and day, was forever envious of the last." You've really got these concepts springing to life in a poem called "Decay," magic!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Should we be thinking about a metaphorical kind of modern day Pompeii here? The idea of lovers frozen together and love decaying becoming a kind of physical decay is really interesting, but you might need to lead the reader more firmly to these conclusions.

    Think about the five senses and how you can make these people come alive for the reader. What do they look like? What does it mean to make "love for normalcy, and laugh of reminiscent memories"? Could you describe one specific memory? This poem wades in really patiently, but what if it were to open "In the darkness, two bodies stayed from habit so close they molded into one." like we are starting a strange fairy tale?

    You’re lying on the ground

    Guilt is embedded in your very misery
    A tsunami trying to knock down your damn of perfection
    Now what? You ask yourself
    A glowing, golden dust sprinkles over you

    What we love about it

    Amazing use of evocative language and drastic contrasts! We've got burning and freezing, feelings of repression and guilt! The stakes are high and you do a great job of drawing the reader into the speaker's dilemma through the use of the second person.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Trust your reader to make some leaps with you! Take a read through your poem aloud to try and draw out the most active voice. How would it feel to strip away some of the explanation so that your descriptions of the feeling take center stage?

    Cold marble bites your back
    The same back
    That has been stabbed countless times

    Now what?
    Is it really over?

    Can you escape this flaming ember?
    Guilt is embedded in your very misery
    A tsunami trying to knock down your damn of perfection
    Now what?
    A glowing, golden dust sprinkles over you

    Sunday’s Son

    For she is soft, still and slight,
    And he is warm, kind and bright.
    As he awakes the sky is blue,
    The day is wise and always true.
    He smiles sweetly and bares a chuckle,
    His scent a gentle honeysuckle.

    . . .

    But I am like the Friday night,
    Solemn and sleek yet full of sprite.
    I’m bold in entrance but soon fade away
    Tender into Saturday day.

    What we love about it

    Your mix of rhythms, images, and rhymes are so mesmerizing! This poem hums along with the help of your rhyming couplets, and we feel like we are in a fairytale or magical world.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Rhyme can also be tricky! Sticking too strictly to rhyming couplets can sometimes control your lines too much and distract a reader's mind from your poem's content because their ear begins to hunt for next rhyme instead of hearing your ideas. You might try a draft where the rhyme gets lost and comes back in! You can also play with how you compose your stanzas so that the rhyming pairs are broken up a bit more:

    If the days of the week were mothers of one,
    I know for definite he’d be Sunday’s son.
    For she is soft, still and slight,

    And he is warm, kind and bright.
    As he awakes the sky is blue,
    The day is wise and always true.

    He smiles sweetly and bares a chuckle,
    His scent a gentle honeysuckle.
    As the ferns dance when he is near,

    The Playground

    She watches him from a distance;
    remembers the way he caressed her
    His daughter walks over to her,
    asks her to come and play.
    And off she goes, as he watches on

    What we love about it

    We love this intimate, yet distance moment of remembered affection. Stunning premise for a poem!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Consider including more specific, concrete, sensory details--what colors does the speaker see, for example? What is the quality of the light? To what could you compare the distance between these former lovers in order to reveal something new about intimacy?

    I Still Loved You

    Love wins the battle by ten goals to nothing

    My heart has fallen deep inside

    My inspiration fades away

    I’ve really died a lot inside


    The last I’ll ever see you again

    Wish I has spent it all with you

    You left without saying a word

    Goodbye was hard for me too.

    What we love about it

    This lost love poem has great ambiance and a real twist at the end! A reader is cleverly set up to feel like these people are already a couple, so the rejection and lost hope hit us hard by the poem's final lines. Grounding us in a party scene is a great way to draw us into a memorable poem!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    A few phrases might be smoothed out for a more natural rhythm and clarity like with "Filled with gist and many more" we might need to check if "gist" is the word we want and say "and much more." At the end, something like "Love wins the battle ten to nil" would still make sense but be more in line with how someone might express this idea in conversation. We'd also love to see you dig into more detail here! A party scene is the perfect place for poetry to unfold, but what music is being listened to? What does this woman look like? Her beauty makes the speaker feel "holy inside" (excellent idea!), but we don't get a clear picture of her. Could you add some snapshots of descriptions with all those selfies? Allow your readers to see and hear and feel what the speaker experiences and dig into those five senses!

    Walking on the Sidewalk

    When a child comes across
    A man walking a dog
    The child doesn’t ask if the man
    Needs help walking
    Because this man is following the dog.

    What we love about it

    This poem sets up a wonderfully philosophical conversation and does a great job of creating mystery with direct language!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Could you experiment with breaking this poem into stanzas or couplets to see how this might control a reader's pacing? You are setting up an interesting idea, and there might even be more poem waiting to be written here! Can you add any description to these three characters? Instead of saying "I don't know," could you ask that final thought as a question?

    Take It in All at Once

    The weight of my chest is so heavy
    Till all I’m is the air I breathe.

    What we love about it

    What a beautiful puzzle of contrasts for a reader to visualize and feel! This poem feels so meditative, and the focus on lightness and weight is really powerful.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The contraction in the second line feels a bit confusing, how does it sound to break apart those words so we have "Till all I am is the air I breathe."?

    Can you go bolder with those final two lines and have something like:

    I’m floating [describe where we are floating/visualize nothing]
    Floating, across nothing.

    How can you make a reader "see" and "feel" that nothing?

    Heart Attack

    You look at me with that glowing smile
    I respond with my knowing smile
    And with every second, my heart is beating
    Tick tick boom

    Shrapnel and metal everywhere around
    And all I can hear is a loud ringing sound
    I look and see
    There is nothing left of me
    But I’d catch it all the same

    What we love about it

    You've crafted a lot of action in a relatively small space so readers will have a great time bouncing around these stanzas! We are thrown into the action, and your ideas are really dynamic.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Can you add more layers of description to this idea of the ticking bomb of love? We've got this other person in the poem with a glowing smile, but are we meant to understand that the ticking bomb is the love they share? Take a read of the poem out loud and see if there are lines that can be smoothed over for a more natural sound like this:

    Just let it go, I tell myself
    You know what's coming, I yell


    I find a broken tree stump to share some of this weight
    The wind that took its branches blew right through me while I had to wait.
    Waiting for my momma to call me with news
    Is he still here or did we actually lose?
    I tap tap scratch my fingers against the bark
    . . .
    And then the man next to me, he lets out real laughter while my happiness is near welded shut.

    What we love about it

    This poem is absolutely overflowing with great images which help us understand the speaker's disconnect with the world. It will be deeply relatable to anyone who has experienced deep loss while the world goes on around them, and the idea of being welded shut to happiness is SO GOOD!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Take a read through your poem with an idea to really mixing up the order of information. Can you print out the poem, cut up the lines, and move them around? What if the poem opened:

    The man next to me lets out real laughter while my happiness is welded shut.

    This feels like a much more dynamic beginning, and with the title being "Disconnected," we don't even need to start "I'm disconnected," because your images and description of how this person is moving through their day do a fantastic job of conveying this without saying it explicitly. Trust your images!


    Known to the one who loves

    Is the Song Merry or Call for Help

    Either way Deserves the Best

    Cuz She’s Beyond A Miracle


    What we love about it

    The dark scars at the center of this poem are so mysterious and compelling! This poem sets up a lovely mystery and those short lines allow us to step through slowly.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Is there more poem waiting to be written here? It feels like the ending of the poem leaves things unresolved and we might want to spend more time learning who this person is! Can you try using more descriptive language to let us in?

    My Fragile Heart

    We weren’t meant to be strong, our hearts were of silk, not the rough

    I said to you,

    “look at us, we’ve reached the bend”

    A turn so new

    Yet not the end

    Your eyes shut for a second time

    And a deep breath you drew

    As we entered our prime

    What we love about it

    The image of hearts made of silk is fantastic, and your use of the second person direct address is so effective for drawing the reader into your world and making your pleas feel really urgent!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Take a read of this poem aloud and see if you can smooth out places where the rhyme might be controlling your lines too much. Don't be afraid to let some of the rhyme go!

    Take a look at these original lines and one possibly smoother option:

    So I explained to you my solution
    You understood soon enough
    After I cleared your head, once fogged with pollution

    I cleared your head, once fogged with pollution,
    blowing through your mind with my clear solution.


    So happiness is not a choice

    Because when bad things happen

    We do not choose to rejoice

    Instead, our hearts start cracking

    What we love about it

    Landing on the image of the cracking heart is great! There is a wonderful clarity to the way your ideas progress in each line, and your ideas feel important and original.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Can you expand on that cracking heart? This poem feels like it's just warming up when it ends! You could read "Crenellation" by Su Smallen (in her collection Weight of Light) or "Heart/Mind" by Laura Kasischke (in her collection Space, In Chains) if you'd like to explore other poems which take the idea of the breaking heart into wildly new territory!

    Untitled ("In the innocence of time")

    So let me ask you, when did the classrooms and field trips turn into computer
    screens and backyard visits, when did playing at the park and seeing people you love become a
    crime. Taking away rights decreasing are social skills and life skills the fear filled virus is ruining
    my generation, its ruining my chances of surviving if life somehow turns back into normal. But
    for now the masks, the fear, the loneliness and lacking of social interaction is are new normal,
    are grocery store visits have now turned into vacations and real vacations are only seen as
    impossible dreams.

    What we love about it

    This is such an important poem for NOW that will really connect with people across generations who have experienced the recent global pandemic. Your voice is full of passion and urgency, and you are providing a crucial window into how a young psyche is hit with this "new normal." Pointing out how the idea of a grocery store visit has shifted is especially compelling!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Can you explore the five senses here and really bring us into these moments of loss? Could you think about the way you were able to fully perceive and experience travel and visitors before the pandemic and show how these senses like touch are now cut off? You are tackling some huge and important ideas, but grounding your reader in a sense of place will help them experience the work on a deeper level!

    Untitled ("For them it’s a breeze")

    For them it’s a breeze,
    While I lie by their roots,
    Waiting for the storm to die,
    Waiting for someone else to try.

    Maybe one day I’ll reach their heights,

    What we love about it

    This persona poem opens with a beautifully evocative breeze and roots, and the rhyme and short lines help to drive us through the poem and create a compelling rhythm! You set up some lovely mystery here and make us want to read more!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Is there more poem asking to be unearthed here? We are left with a slightly mysterious ending, and we're not sure if this is a seed or a seedling hoping to grow into a huge tree. Could you play with the concept of time and show how a tree and a human might experience time differently if one could live to be one thousand years old and the other maxes out around eighty? How does your speaker perceive the world? What is their ability to taste, feel, smell, see etc.?

    Sleeping with You

    You scoop under my rib cage and pull me into your silhouette

    I can feel your lips on my ear

    And for the longest five seconds I’ve ever known

    We are both entirely still

    How can I love sleeping alone, but hate sleeping without you?

    What we love about it

    Landing on a question is a wonderful move to draw the reader into this speaker's world! This poem is so sweet and romantic that it should have a broad appeal and be sought out by readers looking for help in how to express deep and true love.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Exploring feeling and touch is a really important part of this intimate poem, and it might be great to explore the other five senses as well! Where are we, and what is the occasion for this poem? Has the love just returned or are they about to go away? Why are we thinking about an empty bed versus a bed with them there? Take a read of the poem aloud to see where some lines might need smoothing or sharpening, and think about how a reader can "see" the scene more clearly.

    Look. Listen.

    Or need to stay silent to get no backbite and rumor.
    They’d call me a feminist if I told them this.
    They’d spit the word like it was vile. Like they couldn’t stand the very taste of the diction rolling off their tongue.
    It tastes like salt when I pick it up. It tastes like sea salt chocolate.
    Despite my desire to have an equal footing, despite how I’ve only asked to be given what I give, they’d spit in my face with it.

    What we love about it

    This is a HUGELY impressive poem with some deeply compelling ideas and a strong voice. You are hitting on so many important ideas, and it would be inspiring for many people to read, both people who are in your shoes, and the older generation who needs to be shaken out of their old ideas!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    One of the most evocative moments of sea salt on the tongue in response to the idea of being "feminist" hold the key to what would kick this poem into a higher gear! In a longer poem, it can be easy to get caught up in ideas without giving your readers any concrete images (or engaging their five senses!) and allowing them to really step into the poem with the speaker. Take a few reads through your poem aloud and see what images spring to mind. How can you incorporate more description of where we are and who this is?

    Everything More

    I watched.
    As my life fell to dust around me and it settled. I laid in it for months.
    I deserved this.
    I earned every piece of it.

    But then he came along.
    He who protects and helps
    I know what I want now.
    Because I want him.

    He makes the sun shine a little brighter.
    He makes the quite nights the silence I am searching for.
    Everyday he shows me he loves and cares for me and yet I’m still so unsure.
    How do I know I’m not too much?

    What we love about it

    The perspective of addressing an ex about a new (better) partner is so interesting and complex! We love how you are exploring how the thrill of being with a person who is more loving gets mixed in with the guilt of moving on "too fast." Love is complicated, and this poem does an excellent job of allowing us into the head and heart of someone going through how complex these emotions are! Timeless!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    While the speaker is letting us into their thought process here, we can't really "see" or "feel" or "hear" what their life was like on a more intimate and evocative level. How does this new partner help and protect? What were those manipulations and lies about? We've got a partial picture here, but think about how you can bring the reader in with the five senses and more surprising language!

    Close the Curtain

    I stare at them,
    They stare at me
    A dry cough echoes through the chamber,
    No other noise to drown it out

    I feel like my lion
    Trapped in his cage
    Nowhere to go
    Vulnerable where I thought safe

    As I would pull the rabbit from my hat,
    I pull myself from the stage
    Into the darkness behind
    The saddest disappearing act

    What we love about it

    Wow, that ending is so fantastic! This is a heartbreaking poem where we really feel the weight of a bad reaction that would make us want to disappear, and the comparison and image at the end do a perfect job of locking that feeling into place in a memorable way!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    While we begin on a high note to contrast with where the speaker lands, the most compelling action begins with that sad cough and cold reception! Could we begin there?

    A dry cough echoes through the chamber,
    No other noise to drown it out

    I become my lion
    Trapped in his cage
    Nowhere to go
    Vulnerable where I thought safe . . .

    You could ground us in the present moment and allow a reader to understand the stakes of performance and create a kind of circular structure where we are opening with the cough and feeling like the lion--remembering how things used to be in success--then circling back to the final disappearing act where the speaker has become a rabbit. This would also allow those two moments of transformation to have more space.

    Heartbeats buzzing from inside

    My acid stomach declines to riot but I hear her call for more – she seeks the other halves which overfill with liquid hope, hot and white, spilling seed

    In the autumn soil that soak my feet, bounced cheques growing my hunger


    . . . Sinking.

    What we love about it

    Such original and bouncing word choice here! The flow grabs us from that first evocative line, and we know we are listening to a truly original voice, great job!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Could you experiment with changing up the order of the lines and making the language more active? How would this work?

    Heartbeats buzz from inside
    Sights fade from the brain

    My acid stomach declines to riot, and I hear her call for more . . .

    Why Me?

    Why not my lousy neighbor with that stupid mower on his lawn
    Why not the annoying girl in class with her clicking heels and dear Chanel
    Why not that mumbling old man at that dusty stone-cold pharmacy

    What we love about it

    The opening of this poem is so original and really makes us want to keep reading! These details allow us to "see" these people and inhabit the world of the speaker, yes!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Do we need the "Why me?" repetition and do we need to know that bad things are actually happening? It might be more compelling to actually list more people that the speaker wishes bad things to happen to, and leave the actual bad things a bit more mysterious. Landing on "Why today? Why even bother?" is really nice, and it might even be more impactful if the reader was left wondering what this speaker wants to avoid or what pain he's trying to pass on.

    Please Be Patient

    In the last few months
    I have slept through first hour
    On multiple occasions.
    My list of completed assignments
    Is nothing compared to the list of missing ones.

    I understand that I need to do better
    I understand that I am walking a thin line
    I understand that I need to get my act together.

    But do you understand
    that I need you to be patient with me.
    Do you understand
    That my laziness is not my choice.
    Do you understand
    That I need help, not criticism.

    What we love about it

    This poem is so deeply relevant and important! It is full of passion and will be relatable to a wide audience. We've all been there and yes, we just need patience!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Could you experiment with how we are getting into the poem? Could we try something like:

    My grades are shitty,
    My room is a mess,
    And my mind is a battlefield.

    I understand that I look lazy.
    I understand that to you
    I don’t meet your expectations.

    If we can "see" the messy battlefield of the speaker, we will be more invested in their struggle! Think about how do add in layers of description so we can see that room and feel what they are feeling.

    A Good Day?

    The truth that I believe

    Is the truth was there to see

    in every minute, every second, every moment


    We saw those moments spark a wave,

    for a future we must pave

    A cry to echo through time forever

    I don’t believe god brought this endeavour

    It was the people, who chose to speak




    What we love about it

    This is a powerful, sound-driven poem in honor of a hugely important event! Your choice of sparks and echos as ways to understand our place in these events is a good one and adds images and sound to these complex ideas.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    While we get the sense that this narrator cares deeply about these events, it's also not immediately clear what is at stake for the speaker in this poem. You might consider incorporating some concrete imagery to help "anchor" the reader in the speaker's realization. What kind of day was this on a more literal level, and where are we when we are getting and thinking about this news?


    Must such a thing be our destiny?
    They say “life is what you make it” but who is “you”?
    I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of meeting them

    Maybe we’re far from crossing paths
    If this were a dream would you wake,
    Are we all but Alice in Wonderland
    Gone a little mad at the thought of reality’s complexity
    Deeper and Deeper it goes
    Spiraling out of control, but it’s ok

    Reality isn’t meant to be constant
    It’s not long term and it’s not without turbulence

    What we love about it

    This poem fearlessly tackles BIG ideas and allows the reader to think about these questions from multiple angles, even pulling in Alice in Wonderland which opens a wonderful box of associations and images. It's a deeply philosophical poem which rewards rereading and makes us want more.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Could this poem be longer? It's possible that the ideas you've opened up here need more room to stretch! Referencing Alice in Wonderland is great, but setting a specific scene and placing the speaker at the heart so that we can see what they taste, smell, feel, hear, see etc. would be great for grounding us in an occasion for this meditation!

    Oh Mary.

    Oh Mary.
    How and when, why and where.
    Seldom thoughts cross my mind.
    How I should elate this news to you,
    how I wrap my head around this time.

    I find you beautiful, and sweet,
    how precious and delicate,
    this is not just a blessing however;
    for you stay far away from my feet.

    How quiet you are, undisturbed,
    how rude it would be to interrupt your silence.

    What we love about it

    The voice of this poem is so beautifully strange and strong! Original phrases like "elate this news to you" are striking and allow for this speaker to really stand out.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    At thirteen lines, fourteen if we count the title, we are playing with the sonnet form and it would be great to really lean into this and experiment with pushing it further in this direction. Where would you want the poem to "turn" and do we need to know more about what Mary thinks about this attention?

    Red Sky at Night (Trigger Warning: rape)

    Red sky at night, sailors delight; red sky in the morning, sailors warning

    I wish I could hate him, she said

    Or I wish he could say he is sorry, she said, and like a fish could come swimming as soon as that bait hit the water.

    I wish I could hate him, she said;

    Or I wish I would have told somebody sooner, and instead like a sailor; I would be watching the lunar landscape in the night with the red sky and feeling delight.

    What we love about it

    Strong images and circling around repeated phrases really get to the heart of how a mind mulls over trauma and points blame both inward and outward. This brave poem does an incredible job of analyzing the effects of abuse and acts as a beacon for those who need to read it.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    We might begin on those more original images and phrases, before going into the "Red Sky at Night" saying, especially because it's used in the title. A great strength of the poem is the fact that it weaves in and out of these wonderful sea metaphors, and you might add in even more of these and allow the speaker to really have a foot in both worlds.

    One of THOSE days

    It’s easy, laying there

    Thinking you have time when every passing minute I seem to be losing you all over again. 

    It wasn’t your fault before and it wouldn’t be your fault now, if you left. 

    It was always me, I knew that, which is why I was so confused when you came back

    You came back, and the fog lifted 

    I’m happy.

    You came back, but eventually so does the fog.

    What we love about it

    There is such a great narrative drive to this poem and a real arc where we can see the bones of how this relationship has evolved! The voice feels clear and real, and the interior monologue is one we want to follow.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    There is a lot of repetition to let us know it's one of "those days," but we might also want to know more concretely what kind of day this reflection is taking place on and more of a 360 view of where we are. Can we get into the five senses and "see" what this bed feels like and what the room looks like? How could the form of the poem contribute to feeling claustrophobic or spacious and how would stanzas affect the pacing of the poem?

    He Was A Friend (Trigger Warning: rape)

    TW rape


    He’s a friend
    As his hands gripped my arms tighter, holding my shoulders down like the handlebars of
    a bicycle
    He’s a friend
    As I yelled internally to block the sounds of his demands
    He’s a friend

    What we love about it

    The poem expertly uses a shift in tense, going from "he is" to "he was" to show the transformation of a friendship after betrayal. The speaker comparing themselves to a bicycle is especially effective as it shows how abuse can reduce a person to feeling like a thing, adding layers to this narrative. Brave work!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The title gives away that shift tense, rather than allowing it to be revealed in the last line, so a new title might be experimented with a bit more. The bicycle moment is also really powerful, and you could try making each line so evocative, almost like this speaker is transforming into other things trying to escape this horrible experience.

    "Ugly" and "Sunset"

    Can you see that bright light?

    You can see it at night

    But it’s not the same light

    Only in the day, it shines so bright

    And you will see the daylight

    What we love about it

    These beautifully designed posters highlight two poems which are wonderfully sound-driven and share important messages to help us appreciate key moments and ideas.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Rhyme is a great way to pull in readers' attention as they work to anticipate that next sound pairing, but too much can take over the poem and make it difficult to make sense of the work's true meaning. Poems for specific events and posters can be tricky as you want them to grab people's attention, but you might strip these pieces back to one image and see if adding in more visual cues can balance more selective rhymes.

    An old friend.

    Dim lights shine
    in the dark i hear and feel the quiet sting and dull ache of it
    its always there, since you left its all that remains.
    piercing my heart like a knife to butter

    What we love about it

    Long lines increase the pacing of a poem, and this work makes excellent use of longer lines so that we are almost breathless with this inner dialogue. Moments of metaphorical and magical thinking do a great job of zooming us in and out of the complicated feelings of lost love.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    More familiar phrases like "pure bliss" and "drop the ball" could be pressed on to give the reader a more surprising turn. The rhythm of the opening with "the quiet sting and dull ache of it" is so great, and this unique energy could be spread throughout the poem! Don't be afraid to go big and bold here; experiment with how literal you can make these metaphors and try dropping "like" from your comparisons!

    Just a color

    red and blue, yellow and pink, blue and green
    and more waiting to be seen
    hiding in the most obvious places
    the sky, the grass, the flowers, the vases
    all different but all part of the pack
    all colors, and someone’s favorite at that

    What we love about it

    This poem makes excellent use of an extended metaphor to open up about such a crucial movement in our modern world and brings a beautiful sense of urgency to the conversation.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    While the ideas of the poem are really clear, they overshadow the poetic devices that will make the work more memorable and allow it to really get into reader's hearts and minds. Could you press on moments of description so we can see what colors are in "the sky, the grass, the flowers, the vases?" Can you name a specific flower or tell us what these vases are made of? Can you drop us more concretely in this moment?

    Don’t Worry. Nothing’s Urgent.

    Once the box is full of water,
    And I’m adapting to the change,
    My wife, with a smile,
    Pulls a chair up to my prison
    And begins to idle chat
    About the daily details of our lives.

    I can tell that she expects me to engage
    As though the conversation she is having
    Is of regular importance
    As though I am not locked in
    And entirely submerged.

    What we love about it

    This poem does a beautiful job of allowing us to inhabit its own surreal world which is eerily familiar to us without explaining away too much, feeling like an exciting hybrid of narrative and poem!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Revision might come in the form of really attending to the music and images of the lines so that the reader can more fully inhabit this scene. We get great bursts of rhyme, but reading the poem aloud with an ear for music and what we can experience with all the senses will deepen our understanding.

    Love of the realization

    Grain draws that place the mind in a trance

    The pooling eyes of a misty meadow

    When can we rest again

    And take away from the rougher world

    Why is there so much on the line

    It’s such a simple moment

    Others draw but they fall away

    Realizing the weave of interactions

    Looking for nothing

    in what already is everything

    There may be a pull on a rope

    And there may be no anchor

    But better to pull at the possibilities

    Than to falter and regress

    What we love about it

    This poem makes lovely use of detail and metaphoric language, especially in "the pull of the rope" and "the anchor."

    Suggestions to strengthen

    It's not becoming immediately clear what is at stake for the speaker in this poem. You might consider incorporating some concrete imagery to help "anchor" the reader in the speaker's realization.

    Let's Dream Again

    play with my bra strap when we’re in the dark

    lay me down and touch me so sweetly

    I wonder if everything else is a dream

    when your green eyes catch on my face

    I wonder if you’re the dream


    when your dad gets home you push me into the closet

    slam the door in my face

    tug your tiny tank top down again

    covering up miles of your skin and my sweet, sweet kisses

    and don’t let me out for hours and hours

    when your dad falls asleep you sneak me out

    say tomorrow is when everything will change

    What we love about it

    What a stunning poem! Beautiful use of concrete details and vivid language! "Miles of your skin"--holy smokes!!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    This poem just needs a little nudge. You might consider making familiar phrases like "sweet kisses" and "I wonder if you're a dream" new with fresh language, perhaps alluding to the fugitive nature of the relationship.

    The problem solver

    On a sunny spring day

    as we sat to decorate

    our little patch of green

    my baby crawled away

    to select a pinwheel.


    She carefully crawled

    all the way to me.

    I painfully adjusted

    the glittering pink wheel

    to the current of air

    filling the space

    with joy and color.

    What we love about it

    This poem describes a beautifully sweet moment of parenthood and will have broad appeal.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Although the situation the poem describes is sweet, what is at stake in this poem? You might further explore the relationship between a child's blooming agency and her parent's authority.

    One in Eight

    Then there was the quiet 

    The silence after you left

    The emptiness of you gone 


    Wishing that I’d looked closer 

    Wishing I’d noticed 

    Wishing forever


    It’s so different now

    Forever foggy 

    Forever missing you

    What we love about it

    This poem walks heart forward, and the speaker's pain is beautifully evident.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    I'd love to have something concrete to hold onto--an image, a description, a metaphor. What, for example, does the speaker wish they had looked closer at, noticed, or wished for?

    Long time ago I was born onto this world

    Long time ago I was born onto this world,

    Spitted out of my mother’s womb unquestionably, without a mercy putted on earth,

    Cursed to walk on the broken glass, smile to monsters and dance with the dragons,

    Weep inside, die and die all over again

    Than there was something else I don’t quite remember name of the word, but I remember the feeling, it was euphoric, sad but lifegiving, thing that kept me going through the fire, what made me enjoy all the flames and burns.

    No it was not love, I never tasted love nor did I understood the foolish victims of it,

    But I feared them, those people would destroy there whole life, set the sky on fire only if it meant keeping the one there loved one safe and happy.

    What we love about it

    This poem employs several beautiful turns of phrase, like "spit out of my mother's womb unquestionably" and "cursed to walk on the broken glass." These are specific and tellingly concrete.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Much of the poem centers on generalities and abstract ideas. You might consider using more concrete details to bring the poem "down to earth" and to allow the reader to hold the poem's ideas in the imagination.

    wind and grace

    nature feeling like an escape to the moon

    while i hold onto your hands til noon

    as tears run down my face

    and i’m wondering, will you ever be replaced?


    the wind and dirt bring the chase

    as if they separate us from this place

    while i hope that you’ll be blessed with grace

    once you’re somewhere in the space

    What we love about it

    This poem's sonics are stunning. The rhythm and rhyme pull the reader pleasingly along.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    That said, the "wind" and abstract airiness in this poem make it difficult to hold in the imagination. You might try adding some concrete details and images--where are these people sitting? where is the other person going? what does grace look like?--to bring the poem down to earth and to the reader's eye level.


    I long for your company to fill the void,

    Brutish actions and silent debate.

    Our memories are pictures from a polaroid,

    But your ink was becoming desolate.

    What we love about it

    This poem's use of similes in the second half of the poem is stunning and vivid!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    It feels like you might have more to explore in this poem! You've introduced a complex relationship on earth, but then you jump to the stars. I'm curious what happens in between!

    The Feelings of Orange

    Orange is the feeling you get

    When looking out into the distance

    Feeling the warmth of the sun,

    The comfort of others.


    Orange is the feeling of

    Biting into a fresh piece of fruit

    Under the comforting shade

    Of a tree in summer.

    What we love about it

    This poem pays thoughtful homage to a single color, and the meditative attention on the hue is beautiful.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The poem might benefit from the inclusion of more visual elements and concrete details. Where is orange felt in the body? What is its temperature? How does the fruit feel on the tongue? Including more details like these will help the poem pop.

    I keep your secret

    I keep your secret

    I keep it locked away

    I let it out with friends and family and strangers, wrapped in a blanket of humor

    A laugh about a man and a lie

    They laugh, I laugh, I hide

    I let it out to my therapist

    I may never trust men again

    That wasn’t all you

    You’re just the most recent one.


    I keep your secret from the only person who really matters

    I scroll through her page and see the photos

    You’re happy with her


    With her.

    I never really existed to you.

    I can handle that.

    Can she handle that I did exist?

    What we love about it

    This poem's honesty is electrifying and brave!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Part of poetry's power comes from its ability to compare unlike things, and, in this comparison, to discover something new about each "half" of the metaphor. You might consider adding more metaphoric language to reveal something unique about secrets--keeping them, being one, etc. What does it feel like in the body? To what other thing/situation in the world could you compare it to?

    The Affair(s)

    i silently search your eyes

    Climb into your brain

    Try to gauge your thoughts

    Try to see if you know im in pain

    Pain you discovered and fostered as your own

    Pain that rains down




    Cascading through my hair

    Splashing against sagging shoulders

    Rolling down a withered, weathered spine

    Half the force it used to be.


    Broken backs need more than just a Brace

    What we love about it

    The poem's pacing and phrasing mimic the spiraling feelings of heartbreak in a gorgeous way. And the second half of the poem does excellent work of showing rather than telling.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    While the second half of the poem includes very specific, visual details, the first half doesn't exhibit the same concreteness. What, for example, is this pain the other figure discovered in the speaker? What is it made of? Does it have a color or scent? How can you make the first half of the poem as clear and vivid and the second?

    I try again

    I try again

    Forgetting the pain

    I try to stand

    Dusting off imaginary sand

    Try to move forward

    Knowing I’m a coward

    I try to run

    Instead I burn

    Fall back down like an asteroid

    I crash, I’m paranoid

    What we love about it

    The near-rhymes at the end of each line mimic the rising and falling motion I imagine the speaker undertakes in this poem, but without the cloying sound of perfect rhyme. Excellent work!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The inclusion of some concrete details (where are these figures? what is the quality of the light on them? what time of day is it?) would help ground the reader in a poem that, at the moment, feels a bit abstract.

    Sleeping with You

    The best part about sleeping with you

    Not sleeping like having sex

    Sleeping like two kids laying innocently in a bed together

    When we are both in our claimed corners

    Our bodies completely separate

    Somehow you reach your arm over

    It finds the shape of my waist perfectly

    What we love about it

    This poem pays beautiful homage to an intimate moment in time and does an excellent job of employing concrete details to show how these two bodies exist in relationship.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    How might you push this poem a little further to dig a little deeper into the idea you present here? Give the reader some more details about this situation and the dynamic. When you push past your area of comfort in a poem, you open yourself up to ideas that truly resonate.

    Orchestrated Silence

    It’s that point.

    That numbing silence…

    When all else fades,

    And there is nothing.


    It is that.. Orchestrated silence.

    That low ambient hum.

    What we love about it

    The phrase "orchestrated silence" is dazzling, and I love how the poem enlarges silence's seemingly small presence.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    I would actually love to "hear" more in this poem. You might bring in some imagery from orchestras or bands, or you might even let the words themselves make some noise--you could play with "sh" and "s" sounds or "m" and "o" sounds . . . I think bringing more texture and sound into the poem will allow the reader to "hear" this profound silence even more clearly!

    One of THOSE days

    It’s one of those days 

    Those days where you’re thinking I’m ignoring you

    Those days where I can’t find it in me to put on a smile for you 

    For you it’s one of “those days” but what do you think it means for me

    I lay there still

    I lay there with meaningless tears in my eyes 

    I lay there and I think about you

    How you’re thriving and being good to you FOR you

    I lay there and think about how to you I’m nothing but lazy 

    how unattractive it might seem for someone to have no motivation, no drive.

    I’m proud of you for doing so much, but I’m also proud of me for doing so little.

    You’re right, it is “one of those days”

    What we love about it

    This poem approaches difficult feelings with beautiful focus and will have broad appeal.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    You might experiment with adding some color, texture, sound, and image to help anchor the reader in this scene. Where are the figures in this poem? What do the speaker's tears feel like in their eyes? The inclusion of specific, sensory details will help the poem jump off the page.

    Red Sky at Night

    Red sky at night, sailors delight; red sky in the morning, sailors warning

    I wish I could hate him, she said

    Or I wish he could say he is sorry, she said, and like a fish could come swimming as soon as that bait hit the water.

    I wish I could hate him, she said;

    Or I wish I would have told somebody sooner, and instead like a sailor; I would be watching the lunar landscape in the night with the red sky and feeling delight.

    Instead I chose warnings that turned into endless nights of mourning

    I wish I could see the forewarnings my twelve year old self would encounter,

    I wish I could hate him, she said;

    What we love about it

    This poem courageously tackles trauma, employs stunning metaphors, and makes brilliant use of a nautical aphorism.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    In some stanzas, the speaker takes on more of a "telling/explaining" tone rather than the "showing" tone that would lend more power to a poem. For example, when the speaker says, "Knowing, I will get better and that although I did not speak up sooner I helped a lot of people along the way. I healed the wrong way, but I learned to forgive and feel pride of who I am," what if instead, you replaced this explanation of healing with symbols or images of healing? How could you show pride? What does speaking up look like? You might think about which sensory details and concrete images might show the reader what these thoughts and feelings look like.

    Our Epilogue

    One day there will be a house,

    That will become and home

    Of joy and warmth and musical laughter

    And there will be no shaking walls

    And empty bottles

    But there will be champagne on hand for when there’s a call for celebrating.

    There will be a garden, and a tree that begs for someone to climb it,

    And a dog who lounges in the shade.


    There will also be a you and me

    And the story that lies between our smiles and glances.

    What we love about it

    This poem unfolds with concrete images and details that offer the reader a sense of evolution and change, which is a rewarding experience.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    These brilliant images might shine brighter with a bit of editing and rephrasing toward a more active voice.

    Our Epilogue

    Our Epilogue


    One day there will be a house,
    That will become and home
    Of joy and warmth and musical laughter
    And there will be no shaking walls
    And empty bottles
    But there will be champagne on hand for when there’s call for celebrating.
    There will be a garden, and a tree that begs for someone to climb it,
    And a dog who lounges in its shade.

    There will also be a you and me
    And the story that lies between our smiles and glances.

    What we love about it

    This poem unfolds with concrete images and details that offer the reader a sense of evolution and change, which is a rewarding experience.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    These brilliant images might shine brighter with a bit of editing and rephrasing toward a more active voice.


    The house you love. Imagine that. The one you love filled with people who terrify. If you create the tether, you must want it. All things we want we gamble for. Heat snarls around my back while I read about The Temple of lightness. Pain is a flower, I know because I read it. When did I become so desperate? The man I turned to in the kitchen, the one who kissed like he was giving me things back.

    What we love about it

    I was shocked by some of the language in here, particularly the use of the word "snarls"! Great work.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    I wonder about the form here. Is the prose form the best possible option for a poem like this? What would happen if you attempted to work with couplets? I also wonder about where the poem stops. Is it possible there's more to this poem than we can see?


    Me and my friend are not friendly

    because she does not talk to me

    and I have not seen her in 5 years.

    What if she hates me?

    What we love about it

    The opening surprised us!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The poems seems a bit undone. What if you worked on expanding the poem by writing 5 or 6 more stanzas?

    Blue Man

    Alone he walks in the dark blue streets.
    In the coldness and fear of the dark blue nights.
    The blue man alone always reaches,
    The old blue river where he will be affright.

    He stands there and think about all the old nights,
    When he thought of ending things for the final time.
    He always knew it would end by the river,
    But he never thought it will end tonight.

    What we love about it

    This poem does a great job of creating a moody atmosphere, and the language pairs well with the dark vision that's created.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    What were those lonely nights? Could the title do a bit more of the heavy lifting by providing more context to what this blue man's life was like?

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