How to Write a Short Metaphorical Poem
by Bruce Lansky
Advice Poem

I came up with the idea of writing short metaphorical poems while reading a list of old song titles and thinking about how much more memorable the song titles are than their meanings. Two examples are “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries” (which means life is sweet) and “The Sunny Side of the Street” (which refers to a place where people are happy). I could go on, but I won’t because I think you get my point: Metaphors are colorful and memorable ways to make a comparison.

Writing one of these poems is a simple way to give students practice including metaphors in their creative writing. One day, while visiting a school, I said, “My mother is like an alarm clock” to a class of third graders in Conrad, Iowa and this is what they came up with:

My mother is like an alarm clock.

She wakes me up every morning.

But she doesn’t go, “Beep! Beep! Beep!”

Instead, she yanks open my bedroom door and yells,

“Sleepyhead, get out of bed!”

Kind of fun, isn’t it?

Here’s one I wrote with some fourth graders who go to Ashley Elementary School in New Baltimore, Michigan:


My dog is like a cheetah.

When someone leaves the door open,

she springs out the door and runs down the street so fast

no one can catch her without a helicopter and a tranquilizer gun.

Short metaphorical poems aren’t hard to write, but the more thought you put into them, the better they read. What two things would you like to compare? How about ice and water? Or the sun and the moon? Or movie stars and heavenly stars? You can use just about any two things that pop into your mind—if you can think of some way they’re similar or dissimilar.


© 2009 Bruce Lansky. Text reprinted by permission of the author. Permission is given for individual school classes to use this lesson and to make as many copies of the lesson as are needed for the students’ use. All other reproduction is prohibited under penalty of law. For use outside individual classes, please contact All rights reserved.


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