A line comes to you, swirls around in your head, and the next thing you know a poem pours forth. The words just seemed to flow without effort. It may be a great poem at that moment; but chances are, you take another look at it (give yourself the distance of at least a couple of days or so) and ask, “What was this really about?”
If you find yourself in that situation – and I think most of the time when we write poetry, it is important to ask that question – try paraphrasing the poem, says Rosemary Daniell, author of The Woman Who Spilled Words All over Herself. Read through the poem and see if you can identify what it says. Trust it, even if it is different than what you meant to say. Paraphrasing helps you understand the purpose of the poem is, which, in turn, allows you to strengthen your writing to make your point.