show, don’t tell!

I’ve been visiting Poetry Free For All, a poetry workshop site…I’ve never done a poetry workshop before, and this is seriously kicking my butt. It’s humbling and scary to get such harsh criticism on your work, and to be honest I think there are a lot of people there who take pleasure in lording superior poetry skills over those of us who are very much still learning. But it’s worth it because I’m learning so much. One of the most common critiques is “show, don’t tell”, asking us to make the reader feel/hear/taste the poem, instead of just describing something. It sounds so elementary but it’s actually really hard. I’m concentrating on that aphorism for this poem…baby steps…


Sprawled like a starfish,
swimming on the blue
Oriental carpet; face-
down and dreaming.

Curled in inertia’s warmth, worn
down by the tide of play; among
bears and blocks you could miss him,
pulses hidden by flesh.

He leaves a contour of himself,
self-portrait with toys;
as if such joy could ever
be successfully confined.


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