Word Choice: Suspense vs. Surprise

photo by Don Sutherland

This month I’m sharing my poem, Suspense, from my book, Undertow. I remember reading this poem to my critique group to get their perspective. The original title was Surprise. Patsy, one of our members, thought I could find a stronger word choice than Surprise. We all brainstormed for a bit and came up with the title, Suspense. What a difference.

The poem originates from an image I saw. Was it surprise that compelled me to write about it? Or was it suspense? Although it was a surprise to see a leaf dangling from a spider web, I was more anxious about the uncertainty of the situation. What would become of the leaf? How alike was this journey of a leaf to my human experience?


This can be said of an autumn leaf
dangling from spider’s web
in frail breeze
not of sky or earth
but in-between

Even the journey of a falling leaf
from tree to ground
is not without suspense

Last fall, I wrote this poem while gazing out my window. It’s about the moment a leaf surprised me in an unexpected way. This time the title fits.

Autumn Surprise                                                                             

One gold leaf drifts by
captures my eye
as if a butterfly

If you would like a signed copy of my book, Undertow, please contact me.



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