Be specific by Mauree Applegate


Don’t say you saw a bird: you saw a swallow,

Or a great horned owl, a hawk, or oriole.

Don’t just tell me that he flew;

That’s what any bird can do;

Say he darted, circled, swooped or lifted in the blue.


Don’t say the sky behind the bird was pretty;

It was watermelon pink streaked through with gold;

Gold bubbled like a fountain

From a pepperminted mountain

And shone like Persian rugs when they are old.


Don’t tell me that the air was sweet with fragrance;

Say it smelled of minted grass and lilac bloom;

Don’t say your heart was swinging;

Name the tune that it was singing,

And how the moonlight’s neon filled the room.


Don’t say the evening creatures all were playing;

Mention tree toad’s twanging, screeching fiddle notes,

Picture cricket’s constant strumming

To the mass mosquitoes humming

While the frogs are singing bass deep in their throats.


Don’t use a word that’s good for all the senses

There’s a word for every feeling one can feel.

If you want your lines to be terrific;

Then do make your words specific,

For words can paint a picture that’s real





About N. M. Thomas

I was born in the West of France, a region I like a lot. We moved around a lot with my parents and ended up in Paris area when I was five. I lived around Paris area until I was twenty one and decided to move to England to improve my English (yes, just like that!) It wasn't easy to be in a country and a part of Britain itself (East Yorkshire)where I could not understand people talking to me. The accent was so important that it took me about a year to become fluent. I stayed there for four years and decided to go back home to Paris. I met my husband, who is American, and finally, only stayed just over a year in France as we moved to the United States. I've always loved literature and foreign languages. I speak fluent French and English, and know some Russian, Italian, Spanish and German. I started to write poems when I was a teenager. My dad actually influenced me a lot, he used to write beautiful poems in French (and I keep telling him he should publish them!)So, I carried on writing poems until I decided to start writing books. I've got two amazing children who keep me on my toes all day long so I only get some time to write at night, but I would not change that for the whole world! And I find inspirations from the music I listen, Lifehouse, Casting Crows, Fireflight and others, but also and mainly from instrumental music, original movie soundtracks (those I love!)
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