NaPoWriMo Day 27: Pinning Down Butterflies

Happy Friday poets! We humans are visual creatures, there’s no doubt about that. But describing what something looks like can only take us so far. We have four other senses that must not be neglected. Today we’ll employ some of our neglected senses to make the abstract concrete. Here’s your daily (optional) poetry prompt.

Making abstractions concrete. Abstract ideas often find their way into poetry. Emotions like love, anger, and fear. Concepts like memory, the passing of time, regret, elation, doubt. But if we speak of these things in only a general way, we invite platitudes, clichés, and banalities into our poetry. Abstractions are like butterflies; they flit about and are difficult to grasp. But we are the lepidopterists of our minds! If those concepts fly into the world of our poems, we must net them and pin them to boards. The tools at our disposal are our five senses. Today I want to challenge you to describe an abstract concept using at least three of your senses. What does anger taste like? What does ambition smell like? What color is fear? Pin those butterflies down, poets! Be absolutely ruthless.

Here is my take on the color, sound, and smell of loneliness.

They Say Loneliness is Blue

They say loneliness is blue
but they are wrong.
It is eu de nil, pale green of
lychen, clinging to rocks,
far above the tree line.

It is the stack music of
superheated steam
bursting from the engine
as the train pulls into
the very last stop.

It is the smell of relics
drawn down from the attic,
slow-blooming molder
of treated wood, scent
revenant of long-dead mice.