Alice, I suppose those cliches —babes in the woods, waters of oblivion—would be all right if you somehow re-vitalized them, gave them a new context, played with their sound, until the cliches themselves are re-born as something original. Hard to do. I tried it once with the advertising cliche " a school for famous writers, " changing it to " a school for famous readers, " which I liked a lot. Here's the barrier to your improving as a living, breathing contemporary poet: Your addiction to rhyme and meter. There are a few masters of formal poetry still left (Richard Howard, Anthony Hecht) , but formal verse will never return as a predominant or even minor type of poetry. If you're really skilled formally (and you're not, you lose a line's meter too often) you might be read as a mildly entertaining formal poet, an anachronism who's ignored the last 60 years of American poetry and poetics. Rhyme is DEAD! Meter needs to be handled with careful subtlety. If you could focus on similes, figures of speech, diction, surprising content, (and FORGET rhyme and meter) , breaking lines where they sound best, you might just improve some. Oh, I do like the sound of " manic in panic...."