Poetry Tryouts: Metaphor Your Poems

14 May

7:38 a.m. — Atlanta

Hello everyone. You are well, I hope. Today we are going to write a poem that describes your own poems, through metaphor. Yes, I know, there are those among you straining to get to it and others who are looking for the door. Door people: trust me. If I can come up with metaphors, you can come up with metaphors. I even wrote a draft to show you.  Don’t panic at the post’s length. I wrote the example three ways.

I first had the idea a few weeks ago and was going to offer this prompt the first week of April. It seemed appropriate. Then I realised it would be lost amongst the daily prompts and it occurred to me that it might even be better after April. The idea arrived as I listened to Jose Marti’s Guantanamera, where he writes:

My verse is light green
and it is flaming crimson (red)
my verse is a wounded stag (deer)
seeking refuge in the mountains.

You can use ‘poetry’ or ‘poems’ or ‘verse’. You can alternate the refrain, as Marti does, or repeat it every line as in Momaday’s ‘The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee‘, or, as I have, with no refrain. I give an example of each form, but for my metaphors, the first works better.

my poems are

one moment
a perigee moon
a still life with blue pitcher
the Jewish Cemetery in Prague
the elements
a metamorphosis
pressed leaves
fossil pathways
Icarus reaching for the sun
Icarus falling to the sea
the streets of Hong Kong
from the vine
a storm, tornado, tsunami, wildfire
Lazarus arisen
a clean slate
the morning sun
a lifetime


My poems are one moment
My poems are a perigee moon
My poems are a still life with blue pitcher
My poems are the Jewish Cemetery in Prague
My poems are the elements
My poems are a metamorphosis
My poems are pressed leaves
My poems are fossil pathways
My poems are Icarus reaching for the sun
My poems are Icarus falling to the sea
My poems are the streets of Hong Kong
My poems are from the vine
My poems are mindgames
My poems are a storm, tornado, tsunami, wildfire
My poems are Lazarus arisen
My poems are a clean slate
My poems are the morning sun
My poems are a lifetime


My poems are a perigee moon
and they are the rising sun
My poems are a clean slate
and a still life with blue pitcher
My poems are the Jewish Cemetery in Prague
and they are Lazarus arisen
My poems are the elements
a storm, tornado, tsunami, wildfire
My poems are a metamorphosis
and they are mindgames
My poems are from the vine
and they are pressed leaves
My poems are fossil pathways
and the streets of Hong Kong
My poems are Icarus reaching for the sun
and they are Icarus falling to the sea
My poems are one moment
and they are a lifetime

Whichever form you choose (I am liking the third more and more for the way it reads), the work part is coming up with the metaphors.  What are the things that your poems are, or are your poems? Use terms that make sense to you and you will find metaphors easier to deal with. Say you have a passion for quilting. Glance at the names of all the quilt designs you have crafted. Put in a deliberate order, would those work as metaphors?

How did I arrive at mine? In a slight panic, because my mind does not think metaphorically and I find metaphors excruciatingly difficult to come up with (getting easier though…), I was glancing through my poems looking for the one I wrote after Momaday’s. As I read through titles I had a Eureka moment when I realised the titles, or topics, would serve as my metaphors, with tweaking as needed. Bob’s your Uncle. Done.

Okay, not quite. I needed to get them into an order that made sense to me. Then I was done.

Have fun. Let your mind loose. If desperate, come up with one metaphor, or two or three, and write about it. If you decide, My poems are like snails nibbling lettuce leaves, well, then, tell us how and why. You will find that you have an extended metaphor.

Write. Post the link, so we can read your poem. Rough drafts always welcome. I shall see you  Thursday for links; Friday for the roundup of the week’s prompts; and next Tuesday for a borrowed prompt.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 14/05/2013 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , ,

66 responses to “Poetry Tryouts: Metaphor Your Poems

  1. johncoyote

    14/05/2013 at 9:24 am

    I like the third version the best. The first one I like also. Less words and you made your point also. I dislike re-writing poetry. I believe we can change the meaning of the poem.

    • margo roby

      14/05/2013 at 9:26 am

      Hi, John, and thank you. I have pretty much come around to that same point of view regarding the three poems.

  2. Pamela

    14/05/2013 at 11:38 am

    Hi Margo, I love this prompt. I am going to try to come up with something in a day or two. Your example poems are wonderful.

    btw, thanks for your supportive comments, especially on the saga of Marlene.

    • margo roby

      14/05/2013 at 2:37 pm

      I LOVE Marlene and her saga, Pamela. If this isn’t breaking a commandment, I like your prose.

      I look forward to your metaphor poem as you are really strong in metaphor.


  3. vivinfrance

    14/05/2013 at 12:12 pm

    You are cruel and a fraud: your metaphors are wonderful! Here’s the best I could do while trying to cook supper!

    • margo roby

      14/05/2013 at 2:39 pm

      I put up a special wall to keep things being heaved across the ocean at me, ViV! My metaphors work only because I stumbled across them. Don’t ask me to actually sit and think up metaphors. Truly.

    • margo roby

      15/05/2013 at 8:34 am

      I HAVE A DRAFT!!!! of a sonnet, that is.

  4. barbara_

    14/05/2013 at 12:14 pm

    Number 2 loses the trees in the forest, but you knew that. I like the energy of the first one, but it doesn’t feel finished. The third, maybe, a little too neat–I’d like to see more lines like “my poems are from the vine”.

    You realize what this prompt is for me, don’t you?

    • margo roby

      14/05/2013 at 2:41 pm

      I may go for a little more straggly for all the reasons you outline. You know me well.

      Bread and jam, bread and jam. Chuckle.

  5. Hannah Gosselin

    14/05/2013 at 1:48 pm

    Thank you, Margo…it really warms my heart to see how much thought you put into what you present to us and when…I think you’re right to feature this challenge now. 🙂

    • margo roby

      14/05/2013 at 2:42 pm

      If you all weren’t you, I might not put quite so much thought in, if that makes sense. Let me try a metaphor. You all are the smiles and laughter in my day.

      • Hannah Gosselin

        14/05/2013 at 2:53 pm

        Well, when you say it that way, metaphorically, Margo, it makes perfect sense and the sentiment is shared richly. :)’s to you.

  6. Carol Carlisle

    14/05/2013 at 1:52 pm
    This what I wrote on my phone which should be some kind of metaphor but I haven’t figured it out yet.

  7. pmwanken

    14/05/2013 at 4:47 pm

    Yes…I’m a”door”able…but you ambushed me on my way over the threshold and I stumbled into writing metaphors. 😉

    • margo roby

      14/05/2013 at 4:50 pm

      You are so cute! I am on my way.

  8. julespaige

    14/05/2013 at 4:59 pm

    I’m going to have to come back to read…Nap time will soon be over…
    I like your 1 and 3 equally. But 2 has its own value.

  9. markwindham

    14/05/2013 at 8:38 pm

    so, there was something about our poems and (as) metaphor… then it seems like there were some other instructions, but I think I forgot about (chose to ignore) them. Surprise! 🙂

    • margo roby

      15/05/2013 at 2:58 pm

      Really? You ignored my instructions? Well!


  10. purplepeninportland

    14/05/2013 at 11:10 pm

  11. Misky

    15/05/2013 at 4:36 am

    Here’s #2. I think I’m all metaphored out now.

  12. barbara_

    15/05/2013 at 8:25 am

    A slightly different angle

    • margo roby

      15/05/2013 at 2:57 pm

      Couldn’t stay away, could you? 😀 I’m on my way.

  13. The Happy Amateur

    16/05/2013 at 10:58 am

    I just found out about this today and couldn’t resist. I wrote mine first (I really enjoyed this, had to stop myself, I figured there might be such a thing as too many metaphors):

    now I’m off to explore everybody’s metaphors, cannot wait.
    Thank you for the prompt, Margo.

    • margo roby

      16/05/2013 at 11:23 am

      Heading over to see yours, Sasha. Too many metaphors? 😀 Never!


    • Misky

      16/05/2013 at 5:14 pm

      I left a comment on your blog but I’m not sure if posted or not. If not, I really liked it!

  14. ravenswingpoetry

    16/05/2013 at 11:35 am

    Better late than never! A very interest exercise. Mine ended up as this “Epistle to Nicole”.

  15. Marian Veverka

    16/05/2013 at 2:17 pm

    What, what does it DO?

    Does it do more than wear a clingy dress and make-up
    And high-heels and hair deliberately tousled?
    Does it stand like a hitch-hiker at the end of our driveway
    Ready to step into action if someone would only slow down?
    What IS it waiting for?

    Did it emerge from a pile of tossed-away descriptive adjectives
    That say the same thing over and over and finally discover something new?

    ( If you listen closely, can you hear it sing?)
    Not too loud, of course, not a band on a football field ready to wake up the crowd.
    But rhythm, its gotta have rhythm, how else will it stick in your mind like some
    Commercial you heard on TV and can’t get rid of?

    Is there a moon?
    Or at least, moonlight?
    Or the sea (Lake Erie) water (the Great Black Swamp) and how can there
    Be a horizon without the sky?

    How can there be a poem without nature?
    Or at least love?
    Sorrow, perhaps?

    Are t hose chains which bound our emotion-filled lines all through the last century
    Finally loosing their grasp? Can we laugh out loud? Scream to high Heaven? Weep bitter tears? Swear oaths of vengeance?

    Those lines, lying there like a pile of dry bones, are they finally ready to get up and walk around all in time to the word of the poet?
    Margo, I ran across some of the poems written to your prompt of “Describe your poetry” and I hope you don’t mind if I butted in.
    Marian Veverka

    • margo roby

      16/05/2013 at 3:42 pm

      Marian, you are always welcome. Always. Got that? Good. Butt in any time your heart desires. We are the better for it. I hate to think I might have missed reading this poem if you had hesitated.

      I love the format you wrote with. Metaphor, personification, voice, all through questions. I am going to copy this and place it in the comments of my blog from today so people can see it with the rest.


  16. Pamela

    16/05/2013 at 2:38 pm

    Hi Margo, I have a poem. I loved this prompt. I hope I have fulfilled the exercise properly. I will be back later to read and comment on others.


    • margo roby

      16/05/2013 at 3:42 pm

      Lovely, Pamela. I shall be over to read. You will find that everyone has written theirs differently. It’s seriously cool.


  17. jacquelinecaseypoetry

    18/05/2013 at 11:20 pm

    This is my first attempt to actually post a link instead of the poem itself. Hope I did it correctly.

  18. jacquelinecaseypoetry

    18/05/2013 at 11:25 pm

    Metaphorically Speaking

    My poem slithers through a murky mind
    dependent upon times unblinking toll.
    I practice with the surgeons hand to bind
    the weakened line and cut away the droll.

    My poem loves to paint with words, the thought.
    He is in love with song and steady beat.
    He’s quite the wan`dring troubadour who sought
    the winding road where is increasing heat.

    My poem often dies before its birth
    but sometimes, in a sudden lift of air,
    he gathers wings and hovers over earth
    demanding life and so he’ll rise with care.

    My poem is of time and space and me
    My poem is a fiery song to be.

    (if someone wants to tell me how to post just the LINK, I would be forever grateful. I know it could not be that difficult. ) Thanks. Jackie

  19. margo roby

    19/05/2013 at 9:31 am

    First, the poem, Jackie. Your choices of metaphor and the way you present them makes the poem take on quite an immediate personality. I am reminded of a prompt I will do in a couple of weeks to do with our muses.

    Link: After you publish your post, copy the URL and paste it wherever you want the link to be. If you want to give it a try, go ahead here.


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