The main post for December is rather more open ended than you've been used to. Take a look at the following:
... a willingness to trust is the one thing the reader may give the writer for free, and it is based on nothing the writer has done but on the reader’s whole relationship with literature. But the dark side of the willingness to trust is suspicion. If the poet does not reward this trust in the first few moments of the poem, he or she is in trouble, because the longer the poet takes to reward it, then the harder it will be to keep it. Stephen Dobyns, from Best Words, Best Order
Readers tend to access poems in stages, however small and fleeting, and, at times, unconscious.
1. They notice the size and shape of the poem without reading the actual words.
2. They estimate the effort required to read it.
3. They consider the title.
4. They read the first few words, the first line.
5. They enter the whole of the poem.
It's probably after 3. that a reader begins to be nudged forward in a willingness to trust the poem and the poet, or grows more suspicious.
So what is it that a reader looks for, or expects from a poem? Here's a list of points I've identified, and how and where they might be located in a poem:
to feel: the presence of emotion
to think: the presence of ideas
to feel anchored: the physical setting
communication: language and image
music: rhythm, rhyme, patterns
tension: the form, the dramatic development, pacing
The degree that a poem is successful is the degree to which some, or all, or these elements are made important to the reader, and if we want to reward a reader, and encourage them to 'stay', then at least one must be made important as soon as possible, either in the shape on the page, or the title, or in the first line or two. Although the balance between rewarding the reader but not answering their questions too easily is sometimes difficult to find. We want to satisfy them, in some way, but also make them want more.
When you post your poems in response, perhaps you could add some brief notes about how you feel you've attempted to reward the reader, the things you consciously considered.
I'm sure you all have poems in process that you can work on but if you need a fresh start then here are some ideas:
Write about the last day of your life.
Write a poem that starts in one place and ends in another - physical, emotional, intellectual.
Write about 'home'.