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    Genuine

    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. 

    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.

    Age

    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?

    Gullible

    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

    Goodbye

    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?

    Wisdom

    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?

    Yakamoz

    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?

    Unravel

    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
    Nostalgic?
    “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
    Off.

    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

    IMAGES TOO FAST FOR YOUR MIND TO SEE, BLINDED BY AN ONSLAUGHT OF PIXELS, FORCING COLORS RELENTLESSLY.

    IS THERE ANY ESCAPE, WILL YOU EVER BE FREE? OR WILL YOU SOON FALL VICTIM,

    A PREY OF TECHNOLOGY?

    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

    DESTINY IS HARD TO EXPLAIN

    WHEN YOU’VE FROZEN YOUR HEART, SO YOU CAN’T FEEL THE PAIN, BREAK THROUGH, AND LET YOURSELF HEAL,

    THEN YOU’LL DISCOVER THE DREAMS WERE ALL REAL.

    HOW MANY HOURS OF PRAYER UNTIL YOU SHOW YOU CARE? HOW MANY MILES TO GO, UNTIL YOU LET ME KNOW? MORNING HOPES FADE AWAY, AS NIGHT ENFOLDS THE DAY; DAWN BRINGS A BRAND NEW SKY, I’LL GIVE IT ONE MORE TRY.

    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?

    Depression

    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
    HAPPINESS
    The long shirts and sweaters you wear in the summer, You silent cry for help but it
    DOESN’T
    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?

    Sunflower

    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!

    Beaches

    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!

    Decay

    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

    Disconnected

    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!

    Her

    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.

    Cracking

    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

    Further

    . . . 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?

    Malleable

    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.

    Charlie

    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

    Happy.

    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

    Showering

    Covering

    Smothering

    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.

    Unexpected

    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?

    Rainbow

    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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