Multiple Meanings

This post is my suggestion for Prompt #100 at We Write Poems.

I recently suggested a dozen words to Brenda Warren for her blog, The Sunday Whirl. I chose twelve words that have multiple meanings. Many of them can be used as a verb and a noun, for example. Brenda graciously used the words I suggested, and many people wrote poems using those words. I was so pleased with the diversity of poems that came out of those twelve words, that I thought I’d suggest the idea again.

So, here is the idea. Go to Multiple Meaning Words, choose ten to twelve of those words, then write your poem incorporating the words that you chose. You may use the words once, or you may use them twice, utilizing both meanings/parts of speech.

I offer two examples. The first poem I wrote with those twelve words was “The Vacation.” Then I challenged myself and wrote a new poem, “Communication”, using each of the words twice, each time as a different part of speech.

The words were: pet, string, wish, point, trick, shine, paw, smell, pack, shape, taste, and whisper.

The Vacation

The irony is that it doesn’t empty my mind,
But fills it with stuff that I don’t want to think about.
And then I look at the string around my finger,
and I find I’m filled with worries about what I forgot.

Brewster paws at my pant leg; he’s hungry,
and so am I, but all I do for now is pet his head.
He knows something is up, as I’m packing,
but there’s no point in trying to trick him either.

I will have to find a shirt that has my smell on it,
or there’ll be no way he’ll go to the kennel.
He’s had a taste of that loneliness before,
and I’m loath to put him through it again.

I wish that going away was just easier.
It’s not like I can just shine him on.
He’s part of my pack, just as I’m his,
and no whispering lie will change that.

This is the shape of things for him and me:
Master and pet, smelly bachelors both of us.
Is it really so wrong to want to be alone
and enjoy it, when it leaves him lonely?

/ / /


I could whisper from far, far away
but you might think I’m trying to trick you

What trick is this, you’d ask,
but couched as a whisper I can’t hear

I could shine a light on my point
or I could just point at the string

of conversations we’ve had and trust you
to find the light’s shine all on your own

Or I could string you along
so that you’d wish for a truth

that you could smell or taste,
or pet or paw as if it were a shape

to be held, when you know the smell
of subterfuge and the taste of bitterness,

angry that I’ve treated you as a pet,
smacked your paw with a rolled newspaper

And then I light a cigarette from my pack,
blowing smoke signals at you,

trying to pack as much information
in every motion that I make,

the shape of every syllable and sound,
the wish I breathe as I shape this poem


6 thoughts on “Multiple Meanings

  1. I could empathasize with the first. Having a dog isn’t easy, when it comes to vacations. I also admire the play with words as different parts of speech. Hmm..especially if it’s within the same poem. I’ll have to think on that. Great prompt Richard.


    • I wanted to add, it’s a teacherly prompt! I do appreciate the fact that there’re quite a number of teacher poets amongst us, like Brenda, Margo, Pamela, you! Who else I missed out?


      • Irene, thank you. Glad you like the prompt idea. I was thinking the same thing last night as I was typing it up – that it’s a teacherly prompt. Gotta play to my strengths.



  2. Pingback: Good Friday Freeforall « Margo Roby: Wordgathering

  3. I like the prompt idea and each of your poems show two of possible many directions one could go with multiple meaning words. What I think would add extra to the challenge would be using the same words multiple times in the same poem but using a different meaning each time.



    • Nicole, I like that idea. Some words could be nouns, verbs, and adjectives. It would be challenging to use them three times in the same poem – with a different usage each time.



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