6 Ways to Evoke Emotion in Poetry and Prose

by Joe Bunting | 78 comments

aj wagonerThis guest post is by AJ Wagoner. AJ writes poetry and wants to bring change to the world in rhythm and rhyme. You can read his blog and follow him on Twitter (@AJWagoner).

In short stories and novels, fantasy in particular, readers want to be present or transported to the scenes of the story. One of the best ways to do such a feat is to ‘Evoke the Emotions and Employ the Senses.'

Poetry should be no different.

evoke emotion

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words. ~Robert Frost

Poetry is ordinary language raised to the Nth power. Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words. ~Paul Engle

Poetry is what we turn to in the most emotional moments of our life – when a beloved friend dies, when a baby is born or when we fall in love.” ~Erica Jong

When I was in college, I took a course on Introduction to Poetry. The professor wrecked my poetry world. I didn't even see the curveballs until my poems were marked with the red ink of doom.

And yet, I still use everything I learned in those moments today in my poetry.

What I learned about poetry

I learned how to ‘Evoke the Emotions' by the ‘Employment of the Senses'. I will share some of the simple versions with you:

Write concrete thoughts and images, not abstract ones. We want to see, hear, smell, taste and feel what you write.

  • Use the active voice, not the passive voice. We want the subject to do the action, which draws us into the emotions. For the differences between the two, here.
  • Utilize action verbs, not linking verbs. We want to feel the pop of the action, the sizzle to the bacon.
  • Avoid gerunds (the -ing words). Gerunds can hinder the meter and flow of a poem. One ends up with ideas of ‘running noses' across a finish line or ‘stocking cans' magically doing all the work for the grocery clerk.
  • Avoid adverbs (those pesky -ly words). Adverbs can hinder and impede the flow of a poem. They also do not give accurate depictions to the emotions we try to evoke.
  • Use metaphors over similes. The simile with the use of ‘like' or ‘as' can also slow up and impede the evocation of the emotions. Metaphors however can give a better picture of the two objects you compare.

Finally, break the rules, whatever rules you come across, even the ones I shared. I write a lot about ‘abstract' ideas, Sometimes I will replace those words with images to represent them, but mostly, I go with those abstract words and let the rest of the poem speak to the images.

The best advice I ever got in life, whether for writing poetry or life in general, was to not let ‘rules' and ‘set parameters' define how you write. In the words of Elizabeth Swann from Pirates of the Caribbean (with a little improv), “You're writers. Hang the code, hang the rules. They're more like guidelines anyway.”

Do you try to evoke emotions in your writing? How do you accomplish it?


Your turn, friends, to evoke the emotions and senses. Write something that makes us see, hear, taste, smell, and feel.

Write for fifteen minutes. When your time is up, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, please be sure to comment on a few practices by other writers.

Happy writing!

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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  1. eva rose

    Thanks for a great blog on emotion in poetry. Thank you! How would I share a poem?

    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks Eva. You can share your poem right here in the comments section. We’d love to see it.

    • eva rose

      This one was written a while back after a newborn almost lost life:
      Sweet angel child
      Awake from your dreams
      Did we coax you here too soon
      The glaring light, the noise and stress
      How can we make it right?
      Sweet angel girl
      Did you feel our tears
      Amidst a thousand prayers
      Did you know how much we loved you
      When you opened eyes of blue?
      Sweet angel child
      Eyes open to your soul
      Searching each face for answers
      A fleeting hint of smile
      As you rock in arms of love.

    • A.J. Wagoner

      Wow. I would can’t even logically say try and change the gerunds in there for more of a kick, because I’m pretty sure I just got kicked by this poem. I’m glad it was an ‘almost’ case and what not, but still I could feel those ‘arms of love’ wrap around me and it made me think of my two littlest nieces (3 and almost 2)…I miss them…oh gosh, yep thanks you got me with this one! Thanks for sharing!

    • eva rose

      Thanks for your kind response. I belong to an excellent writer’s group but no one else tries poetry so I haven’t found much feedback. I mostly write non-fiction short stories. Just found your blog and find it extremely motivating. Thanks!

    • A.J. Wagoner

      You’re welcome and thank you! You should go to your writer’s group and challenge them to step outside their comfort zones with their writing, as in attempt some poetry.

    • John Fisher

      Yes! This one spoke to me. I’m totally with AJ.

    • Giulia Esposito

      You nearly made me tear up. Beautiful.

    • Kate Hewson

      That makes me want to cry! beautiful poem!

    • James Hall

      Thanks for being a reminder and inspiration.

    • A.J. Wagoner

      You’re welcome!

  2. A.J. Wagoner

    The poem I wrote in my fifteen minutes:

    A Lightbulb Flood

    A single piece of wood shaved sheets

    Pressed together, dried–

    Now, set before me a thin piece of paper

    A blank page on either side.

    A cylinder filled with blue–

    No, black octopus goo,

    Set to come forth from the fountain in hand

    And tell of how the sun flew.

    Oh, an arc through the sky

    Random rows of goo to dry

    Just to let the world know

    How the poet lets words flow.

    Yes, language takes form

    And definitions transform

    The blank white page of shaved wood–

    All to the bliss of a Lightbulb Flood.

    ~By: A.J. Wagoner

    • Marla4

      This is wonderful!

    • A.J. Wagoner

      Thanks Marla4

    • Kate Hewson

      very nice! the more I read it, the more I get out of it!

    • A.J. Wagoner

      Thank you Kate! Glad it helps.

  3. Katina Vaselopulos

    Joe, I want you to know up front that I did not write this poem now, but have worked on it for a while and plan to include in my soon to be published book. I am hoping to get some feedback, especially sinse I break rules. If this is cheating and you don’t want to read, I will understand. Anyway, I finally read you e-book about writing. I love it, and I will get good use of your inspiring pumpts.
    Blessings, Katina
    Poppies and Daisies

    A meadow I recollect,

    An ocean,

    A frothy red sea

    On a mountain.

    Waves of poppies,

    Waves of daisies,

    Back and forth they take me

    To another time

    When a wild little child

    I was playing with them

    In the meadow.

    Playful poppies

    Dressed in red,

    Supple and light-footed,

    Passionately dancing and rocking

    Under Pan’s pipe music.

    Rocking and dancing,

    They drive me wild,

    Seeking to initiate me

    Into the passion of life.

    Sun-crowded humble daisies,

    Apollo’s Phythias

    In white bridal gowns,

    To lyre’s music listened

    Their heads to god Helios bowing.

    The enchanting poppies

    Were stealing my heart

    And the daisies I was asking

    On the secret of love

    But answer none.

    The secret they were keeping

    Hidden well,

    And my heart was pounding


    Thousands of years till now,

    The same task:

    Dazzled by the light,

    Enraptured by the sun

    Then again in winter,

    Persephone they follow

    In a faraway realm.

    It’s the Great Power,

    The breath of earth and sky,

    And their soul and consciousness,

    Commanding the cycles of their life.

    Both the wild poppies and the humble daisies

    When spring arrives,

    To darkness say goodbye,

    And with Persephone, to earth they return

    To start their dance again

    In the never-ending meadow.

    A meadow I recollect,

    An ocean of snow and fire.

    I close my eyes,

    A young child I become.

    Back I go,

    I run,

    In this sea I dive,

    To be baptized

    In the mysteries of Life.

    • Marla4


    • A.J. Wagoner

      Hi Katina!

      I enjoyed your poem. The first part jumps out at me to begin with…’an ocean, a frothy red sea on a mountain’…as difficult as it may be to the actual picture of a whole ocean/red sea on a mountain, you can still see it.

      And no worries about breaking the rules…it’s why I ended with that tip because no matter how hard I try a lot of the time, I still end up not following everything I’ve ever learned about poetry. The greats always, esp. the Modern/post-modern poets always pushed the envelope to the extreme.

      I would like to challenge you in re-working the ‘-ing’ words to where you can ‘see/feel’ what’s happening. Those words are what got me in trouble the most in my Intro. to Poetry course, yes…my professor was a bit eccentric, but, to be honest, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. His style to teach us, challenged us in ways I never would have imagined.

      So, say for instance, ‘they were keeping’ could be ‘they kept’ and you can get a better sense of someone maybe hoarding little secret letters to themselves. Or ‘And my heart was pounding/ Passionately’ could be ‘And my heart pounded/ Passionate’. The original adverb adds an extra syllable, so if that is necessary, than maybe it can be used, but most often those extra syllables, esp. with ‘-ly’ words are used as fillers and don’t give more POP to a piece.

      I hope this is helpful. I would see if you can look at all the ‘-ing’ gerund words, which also get used after a linking verb and try to rewrite them.

      Thanks for sharing a poem! If you ever would like to post a poem as a ‘Thursday’s Treasure’ on my blog, then just contact me. 😀

    • Giulia Esposito

      Very nice! I like all the allusions you include.

    • eva rose

      This is beautiful! I could read it ten times and find something new each time. I hope you submit it for publication. Too good not to share.

    • Kate Hewson

      I really enjoyed reading this. Beautiful, melodic, evocative writing.

    • Beck Gambill

      I love poppies Katina and especially enjoyed the images your words conjured. Very nice.

    • Carmen

      Very beautiful, reminded me of The Daffodils and of all those times when I was little and stared at flowers and trees in absolute awe and wonderment.

    • Puja

      This was beautiful, thanks for sharing

  4. Marla4

    Invitation to a Bigfoot Expedition

    “Bigfoot does not smell like road kill,” he says. “Not dirty diapers neither. More like a canvas tent that’s been left in
    the rain too long, a little musty. A
    little ripe. And I don’t call them Bigfoot.”

    “What do I call them?”

    “Wise One, unless they’re gray. Then it’s the Great One.
    Why? Because they’re like the shamans.”

    “Tall? Well, yeah.
    Seven feet, nine feet, taller than road signs, I’ll tell you that. Had a sighting in Cedarville last week. A man
    and his wife. Saw a Wise One after midnight, walking down the road, nice as he

    “Had they been drinking? The couple, I don’t know. The Wise
    One, never.”

    “Me? Yeah, I’ve seen ‘em. When you get close you feel the
    way you do when a storm’s coming. All electric, the inside of your head lights
    up neon blue, I swear it does.”

    “Supernatural? Honey, of course they are. The lost tribe. Native
    Americans? Nah, I still say Indians, but
    it’s the same damn thing.”

    “Well, they can make erase time. Say, you’re walking in the
    scratchy grass of fall. You know the kind. Up to your waist, the color of light
    beer, sways like a siren across the field.
    You feel lit up. And then hear a
    call, not cat-like exactly. Lower. Yeah. You got it! Like a bassoon. After
    that, you might wake up in your own kitchen, the checkered curtains blowing in
    the breeze, your wife looking at you all squirrely, and you realize your don’t
    know how you got home.”

    “Fur’s not at all like a dog’s. That’s a bald-faced lie.
    More like a hippie. You laughing? I’m not kidding. You seen the dreadlocks on
    the hippie-dippies down to the mall? Yeah, just like that.”

    “Faith? Well, yeah you need faith. And I have it. That’s the
    trouble with you black and white types. Life ain’t in the black and white.
    Life, honey, swims in the gray. Ain’t it
    about time you jumped on in the deep end?”

    • A.J. Wagoner

      I almost lost the fact we were talking about Bigfoot…ahem, I mean Wise One.

      See if you can transform the similes to metaphors. It will cause the images to stand out more. Sometimes we can just say ‘More a…’ instead of ‘More like a..’ The senses, when they attempt to fire and feel the proper way tend to get to a ‘like’ and then hiccup with uncertainty (if that makes sense at all).

      If you want to go further (again you can break the rules and tell me to screw my metaphors…please don’t haha), then maybe look into the gerunds and adverbs and whether or not the senses would stand out more if those were changed.

      The story’s still good though. The end ‘Life ain’t in the black and white. Life, honey, swims in the gray. Ain’t it about time you jumped in the deep end?’ stands a very powerful statement. I’m not even sure how to put into words all that ending brought up inside of me.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Marla4

      Thanks so much, A.J. I’ll rework it. I started writing and totally ignored your advide! The story – or whatever this is – came from an interview with a Bigfoot investigator a while back and ended up believing myself,

    • A.J. Wagoner

      You’re welcome!! Sweet, or you just followed the very last piece of advice in ‘breaking rules’. 😀 It’s quite interesting and can pull you into it, as is. Not sure what tweaking it would do…maybe teleport everyone into the story somehow.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Ooh, those are the best kinds of poems!

    • A.J. Wagoner

      I agree for sure.

    • Kate Hewson

      Ah, i love this Marla! I can really picture them…and smell them and hear them too! I especially love “When you get close you feel the
      way you do when a storm’s coming. All electric, the inside of your head lights
      up neon blue”.

  5. Karoline Kingley

    I just wanted to say, that you are the best writing blog I follow. Every post hits hard, and provokes me to think about writing in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise Thank you.

    • A.J. Wagoner

      I say that about Joe all the time! 😀

    • John Fisher

      Agree totally; I look forward to these posts every day!

    • Joe Bunting

      Oh wow. Thank you so much, Karoline. We do our best. 🙂

  6. Giulia Esposito

    This brings me back to the one creative writing course I took in university. It was on the studying of poetic forms and allowed us to also write poems. The forms we studied were a bit…avant grade I guess, challenging us to write poems using words that only contained 4 letters, things like that. I hated every minute of it because I wasn’t allowed to write what I wanted, not once. The instructor also made one of the students cry (not me) and I vowed never to write any of HIS kind of poetry because the man was an ass! But, I regretted that course too because I did want to learn more about poetry writing. Just not from someone who lacked soul. I don’t know why I’m sharing this other than the reoccurring theme that the posts here on The Write Practice seem to always come at the perfect time. You see, poetry is also something else I’m afraid to write…

    • A.J. Wagoner

      I can sympathize with every word you shared! I totally understand that sentiment. When I took my Intro. to Poetry course and had all the poetry I had submitted for the course demolished, I seriously wanted to throw all the professor’s teachings out the window and then some….unfortunate for me (or fortunate to me) those stuck in my mind and most poetry I write is what I was taught by that professor.

      I think from what you wrote about your instructor that he may not have meant to come off that strong, just wanted to challenge those in the class to see poetry in a different light/manner/way.

      I also just recently took a course on Coursera.org (totally free) on Modern & Contemporary American Poetry. They are going to have it again in September. I would totally suggest the course (https://www.coursera.org/course/modernpoetry). The community that comes from the course alone is worth the ten weeks of poems to read, videos to watch, discussions to look into and essays (which some involve writing a poem) to write. It challenged some of my takes on poetry too. You should check it out. The first one had over 34,000 people, but the professor form Penn State and his TAs did a fabulous job and if felt more like a simple family just discussing and reading poetry together.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Thanks AJ! That sounds awesome, I will check out for sure.

    • A.J. Wagoner

      Welcome! Wonderful!

  7. John Fisher

    I wrote this poem a couple of years back, and it seems to fit well with what AJ was saying. My debt to Miss Dickenson will be apparent.

    Heard mother’s on a waning winter’s day;
    Another’s through a disbelieving haze.
    Near unmanned by troubled breath —
    Stark fanfare of song of death;
    Still hear, and know
    I follow in their way.

    • A.J. Wagoner

      Yes! Dickenson so alive in ‘THIS’ one! Great poem.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Oh yeah, clearly inspired by Dickenson.

  8. Justin Buck

    The depth of talent in this comment stream is breath-taking. Thanks, Joe, for maintaining such a great community.

  9. Jeff Ellis

    The blade is stuck in his ribs and I can’t seem to get a good enough grip on the hilt to pull my damned sword free. There is too much blood and sweat and mud and every time I tug, he screams so loud that I think my head may actually split open. I lick my lips and try one more time, to no avail. Everything is screams and swords on swords on swords and charging horses carrying yelling men.

    I stop for a minute to catch my breath, watching the Norseman squirm under his wounds, a bit of tar-black blood bubbling out of his mouth. He’ll be dead soon enough, and then, at least, he won’t be screaming anymore. Louis tumbles beside me, holding his shield up to shoulder a blow from a Norse ax. He looks at me with a bewildered smile, before he regains focus and runs his assailant through.

    “Just what are you doing?” Louis asks, pulling his sword free of his victim with a practiced effort.

    I wipe my arm across my forehead, but all it does is cover my face in blood and sweat and mud. “Fucking sword is stuck…” I say and gesture to my dead Norseman.

    “Good Lord, but you’ll be the death of us Antony…” Louis says over the crash of battle. He doesn’t stay to chat.

    I flick the muck from my hands onto the Norseman’s body and spit into my palms before rubbing them together. Taking hold of my hilt once more I bend my knees, breathe in and when I exhale, I tug with all of my might. With a swish, the blade finally slides free and my over-exuberance sees me falling down ass-first into the muddy field.

    Laughing quietly to myself, I prop up onto one knee and make to stand when the mace comes mercilessly down to smash into my head, splitting my skull open and bringing black silence.

    • Carmen

      Wow this passage is so vivid. Right from the beginning it feels so messy with the ‘blood and sweat and mud’ and I liked the ‘bit of tar-black blood bubbling out of his mouth’, how gory! And just I would imagine blood to look like coming out of someone’s mouth like that (not that I wonder about that.) I also really liked the symmetry of beginning with a violent death and ending with one.

    • Jeff Ellis

      Thanks Carmen! I’m glad you enjoyed this 🙂

    • A.J. Wagoner

      My goodness. I’m with Carmen, I felt I was there. Great job.

    • Jeff Ellis

      Thanks A.J., I’m glad you liked it.

    • A.J. Wagoner

      You’re very welcome!

  10. Laura Mills

    This is a great post! It’s been a while since I’ve visited this blog, but I’m glad I decided to come back. After doing this practice I feel inspired again.

    From Grandmother to Grandfather

    I want to remember you
    like water remembers a penny,
    a single droplet held perfectly round
    for eternity

    Perspiration forms
    along your hairline,
    in the creases of
    your brow, that brow
    that I want to smooth
    with my fingers like
    a maid smoothing
    a tablecloth.

    But maybe eternity
    won’t be enough for us.
    Maybe our pictures
    will be discarded with
    the rest, pushed into
    boxes at the back of our
    children’s closets.

    Maybe now the birthday
    cards and the anniversary
    cards and the get-well-soon
    cards will get lost
    in the mail.

    Or when they do come
    they will be signed
    with their own curriculum vitae:
    “Your brother”
    “Your sister”
    “Your son”

    How long has it been,
    my darling? Things
    don’t come so easy

    • Carmen

      How heart breaking. Heart breaking because of the tenderness of the love and heart breaking because the couple are being abandoned by time. I would like to think Grandmother and Grandfather do not need any one else and can just exist with their love for each other 🙁

    • A.J. Wagoner

      Wow. First, I’m glad the post inspired you once more. It’s always good for when inspiration breathes into our creativity once more. Second, the poem’s fantastic. A few ideas: maybe in the second line take the ‘like’ out and try the word ‘how’ to make it a metaphor. The line with ‘perfectly’ could be rearranged, but I’m not sure the best way. It might actually be the best way haha (same with the other simile in the next stanza). Wonderful piece though!

  11. Carmen

    Poetry is really hard :/ I kept becoming more and more prosaic.

    And when I move from my bed, every discomfort in the world moves through my body.
    Each limb aches, each organ yearns and protests.
    But I trudge.
    And when I leave my home, I am not welcomed by the world.
    The wind chills me and I fill my lungs on its ice.
    But still, I trudge.
    The darkness gets thicker as I walk. I am unwelcome and foreign.

    Here, my thoughts turn against me. They whisper in my head, Go back to bed. Go back to sleep. The day is not yours.
    I grit my teeth, spurn my own thoughts, and I trudge.

    The most simple of labours and yet the most testing. I climb and I climb, thoughtless now. Mindless, now.

    I reach the top and I am king of the mountain. I see my world and its true size and I greet the sun.

    Gentle warmth wafts at me continuous,
    Sweet like spring when mixed with the fresh air.
    It embalms me in a cocoon and I wonder how I could be otherwise.

    I breathe deep and I breathe free, rolling breaths. And I can not remember ever breathing before.

    I still have that graceful warmth in my day,

    It paints crisp shadows across my world,

    It colours trees and grass vibrant greens and illuminates the sky as the sea.

    It leaves unceremoniously, and I wonder what to do with the darkness tonight.

    • Laura Mills

      I really love this. I imagine this is what it feels like when I get out of bed every morning, but I realize your protagonist (can poems have protagonists?) probably feels worse than anything I’ve felt on a typical Monday morning 🙂 I love the transition from dark to light! There are so many lines in this that I love, but here’s a couple: “Here, my thoughts turn against me.”
      “It embalms me in a cocoon and I wonder how I could be otherwise”
      “It leaves unceremoniously, and I wonder what to do with the darkness tonight.” I especially like the last line because it leaves the reader with the sense that it that action will continue long after we’ve stopped reading. I really like poems that do that.

    • Carmen

      Thanks tonnes Laura 🙂

    • A.J. Wagoner

      I almost didn’t pay close attention to it as a poem, because I was enthralled by your writing. It’s meta-poetry or at least have hints to it. Meta-poetry is poetry about poetry. Either way this is really really good. Great job.

    • Carmen

      Oh thank you very much 🙂

    • A.J. Wagoner

      You’re very welcome! 🙂

    • Chase G

      I like this piece. However, in my humble opinion, it could use some tightening up. Perhaps delete a few words to make it more poetic, if that’s what you’re going for. Does that make sense?

  12. Yvette Carol

    I’m with you, A.J, in the idea that metaphor brings us closer to the emotion. You asked which techniques we use to evoke emotion. Where I can, I try to use metaphor, although it can be harder said than done!

    • A.J. Wagoner

      I hear you with that Yvette! As you keep working at it and going for metaphor over simile, it gets easier. Also, if you tell yourself similes are not allowed — period, then it is easier to not think in simile and to just think in metaphors. If that makes sense…haha

  13. Chase G

    Hey all. Would really like some help with my writing critically. This piece I wrote is emotional, but I wonder if it is too emotional… like it might seem unreal. Would love the crits!

    I never remembered my brother in the daylight. He’d always come in at some weird time, hours after the sun went down and the yelling stopped. He always knew to stick his head under the bed right before I went to sleep.

    He’d always start the same way too: “’Ey ‘mano. What you doin’ down there? You know beds work better when you sleep on top.”

    I smiled, ”But I like it down there.”

    He snorted, “What choo mean you like it down there… you know that’s where the
    monsters live, right?”

    I loved it when he said that, “I know. What if I told you the monsters and I were

    He laughed in such a way that you could hear his nose was stuffed up, “Heheheheh. Whatever monstro. Get back up here,” He reached under and gently grabbed my wrists.

    “Hey Sig, where do you go to at night?”

    “It don’t matter none. You don’t want to know anyway…” he looked down at the ground, but just for a second, “You want me to tell you a story or somethin’?”

    “You always tell me a story. Tell me where you went tonight… Pleeeese?” I said, giving him the face I give mom when I wanted gum at the supermarket checkout line.”

    Sig shook his head again, “Naw, not today monstro. You can hear another time. I just want to tell you a story so you sleep, okay?” he looked down, smiled, and sniffed back a lugie. Sig’s hands shook a little as he tucked me in. He smelled weird.

    “Okay…” I said, “But don’t make it a scary one…”

    He smiled, “Psh… you scare too easy…” He cleared his throat, “Okay… see this one time there was a little vato cowboy…”

    “YOU ALREADY TOLD ME THAT ONE!” I yelled at him in a whisper.

    He smiled back, “Psh… yeah, shit… sorry… just wanted to see if you were listening… okay… so this one time there was this… this… ice cream guy.”

    “Ice cream guy?”

    “Shuddup. You don’t know the story.”

    I didn’t, so I shut up.

    His eyes got real big, “So this ice cream guy, he drove his truck everyday. He gave out pushpops, snowcones, cherry bombs, and… mmm…”


    “Sorry bro… the story’s makin’ me hungry…heheheh… “ he laughed, hiccoughed, and then continued: “So, anyways, everybody say they love this ice cream guy. But this ice cream guy, he don’t feel like they mean it. He just think that they all like him for his sweet goodies. Well, one day, this lil’ vato comes up to his truck and says like, ‘hey, what’s your name?’ And the ice cream guy’s all like, ‘what do you want?” And the little kid’s like ‘I want to know your name’. The ice cream guy is like, ‘Man. Don’t nobody ask me that. I’m always Ice Cream Guy, you know? I… I think… I think my mom used to call me… Jack…son.’”

    “Jackson?” I said.

    His face scrunched up, “SHUDDUP… yeah… Jackson… Beam…i…to.”

    “That’s a stupid name.”

    Sig got up and played like he was leaving, “Whatever, go to sleep, stupid…”

    “No no no. Sorry Sig. I won’t talk no more. Finish the story… finish the…”

    “Okay… you don’t gotta cry about it, jeez. Okay so, Jackson and this little kid became friends, right. And this little kid, because he’s so little, he couldn’t work or nothing. So he couldn’t get no money for ice cream. But because he just wanted to be the ice cream guy’s friend, he’d give him a Push pop. He did this everyday. Jackson would give the little guy ice cream and they’d talk and laugh and tell
    jokes and stories. On the last day of summer, the little guy started to get all sad. He was like ‘Man, you’re not gonna come back.’ And Jackson looked the guy
    right in the eyes and said ‘Don’t worry lil man. I’ll always come back next
    summer. I like you and junk. And the sun’s always hot. People will always need
    ice cream.’ Then one day, the sun got all cold. When the little guy came out,
    Jack didn’t come by. The little guy started to get all sad but then he remembered what Jack said: He’d be back. Then he went inside and went to bed.”

    I laid there in silence for thirty seconds and watched him stare off into space, indicating he was done.

    “I love you.”

    “I love you too. Now go to sleep, stupid.”

    Sig disappeared after that night. Mom and Dad looked for him for many years after the divorce, but they never did find him. Some nights, when its gets too quiet to bear, I want to cry and think about all I never had. But instead, I chose to dream. I dream of Sig and Jackson Beamito, driving like madmen in a run down white truck, telling dirty jokes to little vatos while feasting on ice cream underneath a hot, hot, summer sky.

    • James Hall

      I love the dialog. I love the characters. But, the story doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I felt like the story was building, going somewhere that would be very emotional, and then kind of flopped. If you tie the story to what happens afterward, I think it would make more sense.

      You do well to hide Sig’s actions, which makes him interesting, but the ending didn’t reveal anything significant on this.

      If you pull off the ending with a bigger punch, I’d dare to say it was literature.

      It does not seem unreal until the end, when running off with the ice cream man doesn’t really seemed to fit the event. If the ice cream man is a metaphor or representation for something like a drug dealer, this might add a bit more depth to the ending.

      Don’t concern yourself with being “too emotional”. Rip people’s hearts out and throw them on the ground and stomp on them.

      Read Scarlet Ibis. http://www.calapitter.net/dead/39/scarlet_ibis.html

    • cindy

      really good emotional short. A boy looses his big brother, not to death it seems, but to Sig’s own poisoned heart, by divorce, by drugs .. by whatever. It’s a child lost, both the elder and the younger.

  14. friv 3

    6 which is the method that I need, I do not think it’s so effective

  15. James Hall

    A crib with downy pillows
    Soft blankets with ducks
    With soft fingers like willows
    Him his father tucks

    O let him live
    O Let him be
    O God please give
    A child to me

    Desperate, hopeful we wait,
    Our hearts full of fears
    Impatient to hear his fate
    What will fill our tears

    O let him live
    O Let him be
    O God please give
    The child to me

    O then he comes,
    my child to meet
    Excited am I
    To hear his heart beat.

    The doctors surround him
    To give him a chance
    The odds are all grim
    Slow, the moments advance.

    You do not believe them
    You think it a dream
    When they pronounce
    Time of death, 5:23

    To my son: I miss you dearly.

  16. Afrooz

    this is Afrooz Im poor in English but I have to prepare an article about “Emotion of poetry” could you pls help me Cz I think u have a lots of information and expriance in this field

  17. Waadee Krax Seagull


    I was so relived to read this article. Finally found someone who understood the question plaguing my mind for a long time. I am glad to share my poem “the Monkness” with you guys. Please give your honest feedback.

    Eagerly waiting ,
    An aspiring poet


    The Monkness

    I am wearing jealousy tonight,

    My shoes are red and I might,

    Give you,

    A common cold,


    I’m not sure though

    If its silver or old

    But I have been told

    Exactly Nine-mean times,

    That death in winters is like melting ice in the attics of

    Hidden woes

    Dirty jokes !

    Missing sallies ?

    Picking daisies

    And then I come across a name in red

    I paint it green

    Cause I am wearing jealousy tonight

    My shoes are red and my eyes are bright

    Like a Mexican buffalo stung by a honey bee

    Before a boy I was a kid once

    Kind of like a man without a house

    Hiding in a pink blouse

    Holding tightly

    To an Amy lee


    Forgetting the words

    Cause I am dressed in jealousy tonight

    Not in green though

    With bright red shoes and eyes

    Night watching a painted sky

    Skillet oranges

    Home cooked

    Mind brewed

    Smokey reasons

    Folded legs

    Open arms

    21 grams

    Fire arms

    Hot fried

    Ladies fingers

    Dipped in

    Lip balm



    Of Orgies

    Dressed in jealousy

    And not in green

    Some monk like person maybe

    With a monkey and less money

    Wonkiness dripping


    A soul in Broadway might make you a talented lookalike

    Eyes bright and red shoes I might wear tonight

    Cause I like hair gel and soft skin

    Brushing breaths

    Mint flavoured

    Pools of blood

    Trains of whistles

    Whistles of loons

    Looney tunes

    Moony boon

    Skinny Allen

    Cause I am wearing jealousy tonight

    My shoes are red and my eyes are bright

    Like a Mexican buffalo stung by a honey bee

    I hate the color green

    It smells

    Like the color red


    Nobody is dead

    Its just a shed

    To house

    Some reasons

    Pillows stained with tears of treason

    this season

    of fall

    I will

    get up


    sit tight

    but not


    cause my shoes are red and my eyes are bright

    Like a Mexican honey bee chased by a bull

    I am wearing jealousy tonight

    I am wearing jealousy tonight

    I am wearing jealousy tonight

  18. paisley

    Alright I’m 12 and I have NO writing experience but here we go:

    I remember,
    The sunshine.
    Warm and overwhelming
    We went to church, not paying attention to the preacher.
    instead, we’d play footsie beneath the seats.
    And if for a little while, it stopped the voices mocking me.
    I remember, momma warning us to be good.
    we would be, we always would.
    I remember
    The days as the clouds turned grey
    The sun was gone
    To a new gospel we sang along
    At least I wondered.
    As to why to this being that was “divine”
    Were we assuming
    And as to how we knew he was ever there.
    But momma always said bahave.
    To this tongue the preacher spat I was a slave.
    And to this day I wonder.
    this truth is for an orderly society
    Truth isnt ugly lies are just pretty
    And so here I stand behaving.
    Slaving beneath words and assumptions of misunderstandings.
    And in vein,
    humans let go of humanity
    For the sake of confronting mystery.
    And to this day,
    I wonder if this is behaving.
    Or just playing, like footsie.
    Behold reality.
    Souls are lost on this battlefield by the swingset.
    Blood is shed against your knee on the concrete.
    Twigs are waved as wands and everyone stops
    As one declares that they’re not “it” they
    “Swear to god”.
    But I remember
    When the sunshine would blanket me
    Bringing me warmth
    Providing comfort.
    But behold reality.
    Where it’s night constantly.
    These voices, mocking me.
    My vision, darkening.
    Confusion overwhelming me.
    I was lost in this war between myself and I.
    A casualty.
    Darkness, began cascading.
    Then I saw a light.
    I spent my life wondering, behaving.
    Yet the light was fading,
    And all I saw was darkness.
    For once, I could sleep. I could feel complete.
    I was no longer mocked by mystery.

    So this was my poem. I kind of wrote it on the spot, but I tried. Sorry it’s kind of long.

  19. Mariah Michael

    Thankyou My True Friend
    By Mariah Michael

    Thankyou for being by my side,
    When I need a shoulder to lean on to have a cry,
    It’s the special friendship between you and I.
    We may fight and argue, but we never lie.
    Because you are always their by my side.

    Thankyou for choosing me that God sent to guide,
    With the love, care and support that you will never hide,
    It’s the special friendship between you and I.
    We may fight and argue, but we never lie.
    Because you are always their by my side.

    Thankyou for letting me rest on your chest,
    During those times I could not stand that I needed rest.
    It’s the special friendship between you and I.
    We may fight and argue, but we never lie.
    Because you are always their by my side.

    Thankyou for talking to me heart to heart,
    Those times you’ve cared for me so deeply to show were not
    Thankyou for loving me with all your heart,
    That same love that has never left each other’s inside from
    the start.

    You’ve helped me overcome my hard obstacles that faced my
    Standing by my side just as if I were to sleep beside a tree
    all day.
    Thankyou for just simply being there,
    Talking to you in my heart as I pray.

    As soon as I shut my eyes,
    I lay side on in your heart,
    Just like the time you saw fear in my eyes, so you rapped
    your arms around me so I could lay my head on your shoulders heart.

    I thankyou my true friend, my special one in my heart; I
    love you, goodnight.
    And I promise my heart will do the same back,
    no matter how far you are.

  20. Marilyn Starks

    Nightmares. . . Never Die

  21. ScrewTheSociety

    There’s a man in the mirror
    He follows me wherever I go
    Why, I don’t really know
    He has ashen air, regal air
    And grey eyes just like me
    So distant, a foreign country
    He roughly rides my shoulders
    Yelling harsh things inside my ears
    But then, he’s soft and gentle
    With eyes all full of tears
    His weight is a heavy burden
    Away from him, I want to flee
    I asked what his name was once
    He smiled a frown, and sadly said
    “Well, darling. I’m Anxiety.”

    (Please note that this is MY poem. Please DO NOT copy and take claim of this)

  22. Sarojini Pattayat

    ‘Use metaphors over similes. The simile with the use of ‘like’ or ‘as’ can also slow up and impede the evocation of the emotions. Metaphors however can give a better picture of the two objects you compare’
    Your above advice is awesome.

  23. doreen bainto

    its time

    i need to say goodbye
    your always making me cry
    you even let me die by always leaving me behind
    hundred of times i say its fine
    not knowing you already broke mine
    you always repeat your lines
    thats all part of your lies
    thousands of tears comes from my eyes

    beforei realize your just a waste of time
    already forget you from time to time
    so i think its already goodbye

  24. Staplehurst Mark

    About Warrenpoint August 1979

    Late summer the buds in full bloom,
    The smell of the sea, so fresh, so clean,
    Wild birds abound, their song, chilling and stark,
    Young girls wave us by, a smile and a smirk,
    Young men in the back, not a care in the world.

    Not a car but a great Army truck,
    Seats made of wood, uncomfortable as hell,
    If only they knew how today was their last,
    Then a loud boom flying debris and yells,
    Many young men, that day, ran out of luck.

    If that wasn’t so bad, there yet more to come,
    The other truck passed to see what could be done,
    They took up positions, to see what was what,
    When all of a sudden another great bang.
    Endex as well for some more of our men.

    Mark S

  25. RevDevon Palms

    This is great information to use with my students. We are working on poem interpretations and our next feat is writing poems. Glad I read this blog. Continue blessing us with useful information.

  26. barbara barry

    How do I join the discussion? Just liked finding you…hope I don’t loose you. New to every thing, poetry writing and computer. Is this now, or old stuff I found?


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