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