Invented Poetry Forms – The Mariannet

My dear readers, please forgive me for being so neglectful! It’s hard for me to believe, but I haven’t posted a post on invented poetry forms (a series that has always been the mainstay of this blog) here on “Paul’s Poetry Playground” since last February, so it’s certainly time for me to do another one. Today I will discuss the Mariannet, a name I coined for the previously unnamed poetic form that the poet Marianne Moore created to write her classic poem “The Fish” first published in 1918. Since the form was invented over a hundred years ago, it isn’t exactly new, but in many ways, it will be to most poets, because as far as I can tell, I may be the first to start writing them again since Moore.

The mariannet is an isosyllabic rhyming poem, consisting of one or more five-line stanzas (quintains) with one syllable in the first line, three in the second, nine in the third, six in the fourth, and eight in the fifth and final line. The first two lines rhyme with each other, and so does the third and fourth, but the fifth is nonrhyming and does not rhyme with any other lines. Thus its rhyme scheme can be expressed as aabbx for each individual quintain (with x representing the nonrhyming line). In Moore’s original formatting of the form, the third and fourth lines were indented five spaces and the fifth ten spaces. Unfortunately, such formatting would be very difficult for me to do in WordPress, so I’m treating the indentations as optional. However, if you are writing one, and you can indent, I highly recommend that you do – it will make your own mariannet more authentic and pleasing to the eye. To serve as a model for your own attempt at the form, here is the very first mariannet ever written, Marianne Moore’s The Fish (sadly, sans indentations):

The Fish

through black jade.
Of the crow-blue mussel-shells, one keeps
adjusting the ash-heaps;
opening and shutting itself like

injured fan.
The barnacles which encrust the side
of the wave, cannot hide
there for the submerged shafts of the

split like spun
glass, move themselves with spotlight swiftness
into the crevices—
in and out, illuminating

turquoise sea
of bodies. The water drives a wedge
of iron through the iron edge
of the cliff; whereupon the stars,

rice-grains, ink-
bespattered jelly fish, crabs like green
lilies, and submarine
toadstools, slide each on the other.

marks of abuse are present on this
defiant edifice—
all the physical features of

of cornice, dynamite grooves, burns, and
hatchet strokes, these things stand
out on it; the chasm-side is

evidence has proved that it can live
on what can not revive
its youth. The sea grows old in it.

—Marianne Moore

After reading such a poetic masterpiece as “The Fish”, I doubt you will need any more inspiration to try your hand at writing your own mariannets. But in case you do, here are my own humble (and obviously inferior) attempts at the form:

My Uncle Max’s Most Favorite Maxim

kids go bad.”
is what Uncle Max constantly said.
“They’ll wind up jailed or dead.”
His own son Sam seemed so damn glum.

Young Sam met
No such terribly tragic fate.
He still lives… to this date.
Never trust what your uncles say!

You Think, Therefore You Are?

thoughts may come
and go, in a flash fade from your mind.
There are others you’ll find
taking up permanent residence,

in place, mixed
thoroughly through waking life and dreams,
woven within the seams
of your being, your existence.

may be who-
ever you wish, you’re defined by thought.
Then again, maybe not.
Are you you… or just think you are?

Tick, Tick, Tick…

it’ll be noon.
This once new day at its halfway mark,
following the same arc
of each previous day before.

it will go
on this way, continue on and on
(until Mankind is gone
and the concept of Time’s erased).

day, the sun
may roast the earth in a fiery blaze,
bringing the End of Days,
but I pray, my friend, not today…

The Hermit

ing the knack
for chit-chat, he fled conversations,
social situations,
and took refuge in reading books.

reader may
(he soon found) interact and converse
with the whole universe
yet still stay apart from the world.

learns what we
don’t – how to savor being alone,
through the years having grown
accustomed to his solitude.

he keeps (his own, and of Keats, Thoreau
Socrates, and Plato) —
all the Society he craves…

So what do you think of the mariannet, my dear readers? Like with all the invented poetry forms that I have the pleasure of introducing to you on this blog, I sincerely wish you will try writing one for yourself, and if you do, please don’t hesitate to share. I hope you enjoyed this post, and thank you so much for reading!

Invented Poetry Forms – The Sepigram

Some of you readers with a good memory may recall a post I did last May discussing the Kindku, an invented poetry form inspired by both traditional Japanese forms (like the haiku and tanka) and Found Poetry. Recently one of that form’s creators, Cendrine Marrouat, contacted me to let me know about a brand new form that she invented just this January called the Sepigram, and asked if I might be interested in sharing it with you all. Like I did with the Kindku, I will once again let Cendrine explain the form and its rules in her own words taken from her website Cendrine Marrouat: Visual Poetry of the Mundane:

“The Sepigram is an unlimited poem that follows a “fractal” (or repetitive) pattern. The word is a portmanteau of “seven” + “pi” + “-gram” (‘something written’ or ‘drawing’). The “pi” part refers to the number π (3.14159 rounded up to 3.1416), which is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.


Each part of the Sepigram contains 14 lines and must be divided into 2 stanzas + 1 concluding line.

Part 1:

L1–1 word
L2–7 words
L3–8 words
L4 — repeat word from L1
L5–7 words
L6–8 words
L7 — repeat word from L1 or use a different word

L8 — repeat word from L1 or use a different word
L9–7 words
L10–8 words
L11 — repeat word from L8
L12–7 words
L13–8 words

L. 14: Use seven words from preceding lines (in any order) to make a sentence.

The poem can end here or continue.

Part 2:

L15 — repeat word from L8
L16–7 words
L17–8 words
L18 — repeat word from L8
L19–7 words
L20–8 words
L21 — repeat word from L8 or use a different word

L22 — repeat word from L15 or use a different word
L23–7 words
L24–8 words
L25 — repeat word from L22
L26–7 words
L27–8 words

L. 28: Use seven words from preceding lines (in any order) to make a sentence.

The poem can end here or continue.

As with all my other forms, sepigrams must feature positive / uplifting elements. A reference to nature is encouraged. For example: season, weather, month, time of the day, etc.

Punctuation and titles are optional.“

Cendrine graciously gave me permission to reprint on this blog the following sepigram she wrote as an example :

came to us in a soft whisper
in the dance of rain at five o’clock.
settled among the embers of our fireplace
like an old friend who knows her place

followed quietly when night forgot to look
an unruly child, we could truly say.
settled in our chairs, bed and kitchen,
bringing smiles on our faces, in our hearts.

Night came, day followed, smiles settled quietly.

© 2022 Cendrine Marrouat

And now, here is my own attempt at writing a seprigram:

During My Daily Constitutional Today (a Seprigram)

to the afternoon sun and the flock
of woolly clouds that crowd the sky above.
to the silver sliver of the moon
appearing so incongruously in the midst of day.

to each stray cat, all the squirrels
scurrying across lawns, clambering up oaks and maples.
to people passing by (the strangers
who returned my smile, and the one who didn’t).

Greetings and salutations to one and all!

—Paul Szlosek

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed today’s post on the Sepigram, and will try writing some of your own (if you do and share them on your own blog, please make sure to credit the form to Cendrine and to link back to her website @ ).

People-Watching at the No-Name Diner

Photo by Michael Goad on

In today’s post, I’d like to share with you a poem that I wrote which originally appeared in the premiere issue of the Concrete Wolf journal of poetry close to twenty-one years ago. I sincerely hope you enjoy it…

People-Watching at the No-Name Diner

While digesting two cheeseburgers
and a side order of fries,
you begin to speculate
on the circumstances of strangers,
assigning stories to the unfamiliar faces.
The scraggly fellow with a pen
becomes a millionaire poet
transforming the lunch habits
of the working poor
into the ultimate metaphor
for the nature of existence.
And the throng of giggling adolescents
at the table to the left are plotting
the overthrow of the Archdiocese,
starting with Saint Ignatius’ School
for Wayward Girls. But soon,
you find your attention shifting,
dwelling upon the two figures furthest from you:

A stick-thin girl, midway through her teens,
and a bearded man, at least a generation removed.
They could be father and daughter,
or illegal lovers, wedged into one side
of their corner booth like paupers
in Potter’s Field. They sit graveyard still,
motionless as upright corpses,
neither daring to disturb the ghosts
laid buried in their silence.

Something is strangely amiss,
someone should be there,
her presence or the lack of it,
a gaping hole in this tableau.
Although you hear no sobs,
see no tears,
you can sense their mourning,
their grief, thick and black
as smoke wafting up
from the grease-splattered grill.
And you must look away out of respect
for those who might be dead
and those who simply wish to be.

—Paul Szlosek (originally published in Concrete Wolf)

Invented Poetry Forms — The Skinny

In today’s post, we will be exploring the Skinny, a short fixed poetic form created by Truth Thomas, a singer/songwriter and poet, during the Tony Medina Poetry Workshop held at Howard University in 2005. The skinny is an eleven-line poem in which all the words of the first line are repeated in the eleventh and final line. The words may be used either in the original order or rearranged. Also, like in a sestina, the words in the last line do not have to be the exact match of the ones in the first but can be variations of the root word (for example, with the word “confuse” you could substitute “confusion”, “confused”, or “confusing”). All the other lines of the skinny consist of just one word, with the second, sixth, and tenth lines being the same word. The main goal of the skinny is to try to convey a precise idea or vivid image with the least amount of words possible. Although the subject matter can be about anything and the tone may vary from humorous to serious, most skinnys that have been written so far deal with prevalent issues facing society today. I have found writing them can be quite fun, and even addictive as you can witness by the following numerous examples I ended up writing for you to use as models for your own:

Mysterious Sabbath

Last Sunday morning,
Last Sunday morning.

Strange Dreamscape With Felines

In these reoccurring convoluted dreams,
In these convoluted reoccurring dreams.


There are unfathomable things
Unfathomable things are there…

Poetic Truthseeker

Do I believe there’s some truth in all poetry?
I do believe there’s some truth in all poetry…

Am I Really a Snowflake?

Like a tender peach, my delicate ego bruises
Bruising my tender ego like a delicate peach.

Still Feeling Bad After All These Years

His guilty conscience still
His still guilty conscience.

Perhaps Poetry Is Meant To Be Misunderstood

A failure to communicate
A failure to communicate).

An Ancient Greek Philosopher Questions His Religion…

Who truly deserves the favor of the gods?
Who truly deserves the favor of the gods?

So dear readers, what do you think of the skinny? I hope you will find them as fun and fascinating as I do and will try writing some of your own. If you do, please consider submitting them to The Skinny Poetry Journal, an online poetry journal exclusively dedicated to this unique and wonderful poetry form (you will also find much better examples there than my own meager attempts.)

The Virtual Scaretorium For October 28, 2021

Happy Halloween Everyone!

I want to thank my fellow bloggers Diane Puterbaugh and John Ormsby for graciously accepting my invitation to participate in the Virtual Scaretorium which I am reposting from the Poetorium website below. It is a rather long read filled with some wacky, weird, and even spooky poetry and surprises (be sure to check out the time machine during intermission) but I think you will enjoy it…

Paul Szlosek Wearing a Homemade Halloween Mask He Fashioned From Papier-Mâché

PAUL: (Spoken in a very bad imitation of Boris Karloff) Good evening, every body!

Welcome to our very special Halloween-themed edition of the Virtual Poetorium which we are calling tonight the Scaretorium. As I scan the audience I spy the usual suspects, but there is one unfamiliar face who I surmise must be our special visitor all the way from scary old England, but I’ll talk more about that later. Unlike our regular editions, tonight there will be no featured poet, but instead, we’ll have an extra-long open mic to be divided into two sections, and since we have eight people on the sign-up sheet, there will be four poets in each. We are also lifting our usual one piece per person limit, so everyone can read up to three poems or stories. But before I call the first poet to the stage to read, I will kick off the show with one of my favorite poems by America’s 19th century master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe:

The Conqueror Worm

Lo! ’t is a gala night
   Within the lonesome latter years!   
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
   In veils, and drowned in tears,   
Sit in a theatre, to see
   A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully   
   The music of the spheres.

Mimes, in the form of God on high,   
   Mutter and mumble low,
And hither and thither fly—
   Mere puppets they, who come and go   
At bidding of vast formless things
   That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from out their Condor wings
   Invisible Wo!

That motley drama—oh, be sure   
   It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore   
   By a crowd that seize it not,
Through a circle that ever returneth in   
   To the self-same spot,
And much of Madness, and more of Sin,   
   And Horror the soul of the plot.

But see, amid the mimic rout,
   A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out   
   The scenic solitude!
It writhes!—it writhes!—with mortal pangs   
The mimes become its food,
And seraphs sob at vermin fangs
   In human gore imbued.

Out—out are the lights—out all!   
   And, over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
   Comes down with the rush of a storm,   
While the angels, all pallid and wan,   
   Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, “Man,”   
   And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.

—Edgar Allan Poe

And now please welcome to the podium, a long-time regular of the Virtual Poetorium, and our featured poet from last Halloween, Meg Smith…

A Selfie by Meg Smith From Her Photo Series Called “The Bride Wore Dead.”

MEG: Inspired by two crows I saw perched on a balcony in Cobh, Ireland, this first poem really speaks to the grief of the pandemic, through the Irish observance of Samhain. Being first-generation, I’m speaking of the authentic cultural context — rather than the pop culture notion that Samhain, Beltaine, and other Celtic holidays are whatever the observer imagines…

Lovely Crows

I praise you, overlooking Cobh
from a wrought-iron balcony; 
the bones of trees at Hampton Court;
pumpkins in their rows of snarls in 
the dry grasses of Simeone Farm, 
I love you in your laughter,
and gossip, and flashes of night
in a year’s worth of Octobers. 
Call back the lost. The year
is filled with wailing.
Call back the lost,
through the falling veil.

—Meg Smith

I participated in the “Ghosts of Pawtucketville Night” tour offered by the Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! festival. Jack Kerouac’s Lowell of his upbringing is filled with ghosts, and the haunted presence of those lost before their time. This includes a neighbor of the Kerouac family, who now has a square named in his honor…

Houde Square

At last, a sign, to mark
the crossing in the blue
street lamps — shouts
in nighttime basketball games,
but only one poet
will catch every shade,
every spirit walking, shouting
in the twilight of the floodplain.

–Meg Smith

My final poem of the night was inspired by Valda Hansen, who was an actress who appeared in Night of the Ghouls, a film by Edward D. Wood, Jr., most famous for Plan 9 from Outer Space. In the film, she masquerades as a ghost as part of a con artists’ scam. But she is actually quite ethereal and poetic, a muse of horror camp…

Prom Ghost

In memory of Valda Hansen

Enough to frighten the kids
making out in the sedan
by the edge of the marsh — 
but more, still to love
your dance without breathing,
through your shadow house — 
not of this world, but
casting threads through
its night 

–Meg Smith

PAUL: Thank you, Meg! Next up is our Virtual Poetorium’s featured poet from last November, Howard Kogan…

Howard J Kogan

HOWARD: Halloween is not a topic I have written about, so here is an October poem instead:..


On an uncommonly warm October morning
mist-shrouded mountains dream of the Song Dynasty
crows stand in mid-air conjuring Canada geese,
who appear and disappear along ridgelines
apricot-colored leaves drift from quaking aspens

Last night an immense moon rose
through the trees like a spaceship
glazing the world silver
by morning it was gold.

—Howard J Kogan

PAUL: Thanks, Howard! We actually have three previous Poetorium featured poets with us tonight (the third, Diane Puterbaugh, will be reading in the second section), but now I’d like to read a wonderfully charming Halloween poem written by a fourth, Carl Sandburg, who you may recall we brought back from a hundred years in the past using a time machine I borrowed from my cousin Dwayne so he could feature for us this last June (more about that time machine later)…

Theme in Yellow

I spot the hills
With yellow balls in autumn.
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle round me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o’-lantern
With terrible teeth
And the children know
I am fooling.

—Carl Sandbug

Now please welcome a good friend of the Poetorium, and the host of the monthly open poetry share at the Booklover’s Gourmet in Webster, Massachusetts, Bob Perry…

BOB: Hello Poetorium. Everyone knows that Halloween is when the computers become little gremlins. Caught this one on camera…

Bob Perry With a Computer Gremlin

Both my parents passed on in early October, 11 years apart. On the second anniversary of my dad’s passing I sat down at work and this became an insistent poem. It felt like they were there when I was writing it. What a gift…

October Ghosts

In October my ghosts don’t wait for Hallows Eve
They come early to check out this year’s foliage
To talk of times that were, reinterpreting memories 
As we walk through the forest, each moment
A grace I could not see while they were alive
They tell me nothing is ever wasted, ever lost
Pay attention to the way things come back to you
Spend yourself extravagantly, like these trees 
Let everything go and you will discover
You have had everything you needed all along.

—Robert Eugene Perry

Bodhicitta (Attaining great compassion for all sentient beings, accompanied by a falling away of the ego)


shards of glass, blue red lights road
slick with rain, viscous river of fluids
wailing sirens; other wailing, others waiting
staring deep not seeing not feeling gurneys
odd angles holding fractured forms shouting
rushing figures smoke inhaling crying out 
help is coming just hold on gasping 
overwhelming fumes vision
blurring, drift to
void – 


ghost or angel
soaking up your pain
bleeding out compassion
remaining present, keeping intention
holding on and letting go
simultaneous heartbeat
separation is the


rubbernecking tourists
grumbling at the logjam, making 
the sign of the cross as they pass – 
sacred and profane are abstractions
to the dead and dying – 
which in fact
every body

—Robert Eugene Perry

Here is something new…

I’m including this next one because it is the Scaretorium and this has the word “Hell” in it. Sorry, that’s as scary as I get…

Roadmap Out of Hell

To look within and own your sin – 
your past with all its demons 
A fearless search for truth will hurt 
but only for a season.

To stay awhile with all the guile 
digging through the layers 
It may seem vain but from the pain 
will blossom earnest prayers.

Beneath the mire your soul respires 
despite the suffocation 
Dung unearthed will prove its worth 
becoming your salvation.

With no regret, you place your bet 
and sing your darkest song 
The truth will out, there is no doubt 
you’re here where you belong.

—Robert Eugene Perry

PAUL: Thank you, Bob! And here is the final poet in the first section of the open mic, the host of the brand new monthly Poetry Extravaganza poetry reading series at the Root & Press Bookstore and Cafe in Worcester, Joe Fusco Jr.

A Computer Rendering of Joe Fusco Jr. as if He Was Wearing Skull Makeup

JOE: This is an older piece that I like to put out every Halloween…

Halloween Rations

My wife never buys enough candy for Halloween.

The family gathers at our house for sandwiches then everyone goes trick or treating except my 86-year-old mother and me.

“She didn’t buy enough candy again,” I lament.

“Just give one piece per costume,” my mother replies.

I feel like a gas attendant during the Carter administration distributing a Twizzler and Snickers to the more mature participants, but only one or the other to the adorable, naive little ones who won’t vandalize our property over my frugality.

By 7 p.m., I’m stuffing my hand into their pillowcases like a penny-pinchin’ Christian at Sunday Mass, so they won’t discover my meager offerings.

        (Let me digress: Years ago, when we first moved into the house, on a dark rainy Halloween night, just returning from a cruise of the Caribbean, not a stitch of candy in the cupboard, I was forced to give boxes of store-brand raisins for treats. For years after, kids avoided our house like lice and I received sly death threats in late October with Sidney Poitier analogies.)

 By 8 p.m., Mom and I are running on fumes, tossing quarters into their sacks from my son’s silver collection, then Long-Island potatoes, finally just dispensing sound advice from our porch like “Don’t be a fool, stay in school!”

When the family returns, all the house- lights are off. Mom and I are huddled in the back-bedroom over a candle listening to FDR on the radio.

“Is it over yet,” I ask my wife sheepishly.

“Yes, you moron,” she gently replies.

I gather my manhood and shuffle to the kitchen where I rifle the kid’s bags for Kit Kats and Nestles Crunch bars.

Happy freakin’ Halloween.

—Joe Fusco Jr.

PAUL: That was great, Joe! I thought it would be fitting now to close out the first part of tonight’s open mic with a poem I wrote as a sequel to the one I opened it up with — “The Conqueror Worm” by Edgar Allan Poe. The poem is written as a Cascada Viente, a poetry form invented by Brad Osborne, who coincidently was our featured poet for our One Year Anniversary Edition of the Virtual Poetorium last March…

The Return of the Conqueror Worm
(A Sequel Set in Current Times)

Behold! The conqueror worm
Returns again to the stage
In the guise of a vile germ,
Its audience in a cage,

As it heralds in the age
Of Zoom (with us quarantined,
Trapped like words upon the page).
This strutting, villainous fiend

Having our lives guillotined,
Cut off from family, friends
Forcibly being pulled, weaned
From them til this madness ends-

Tragicomedy that blends
Mournful pathos with jest,
A sick farce that all depends
On its denouement. The rest,

Just exposition at best
And a bad plot twist unseen:
This play has no hero, lest
It’s truly Covid-Nineteen…

—Paul Szlosek

We’ll be taking a short intermission (something we haven’t done for a long, long while) in a couple of minutes before we begin the last half of our virtual open mic, but now it’s time once again for me to present this month’s Poetorium group poem as well as our final Poetorium monthly form writing challenge. This month’s theme was “This Halloween…” with people being asked to email us one to eight lines starting with that short phrase. All contributions were then compiled into the following poem which I’m afraid is rather short this month since we only received submissions from just Bob Perry and Diane Puterbaugh besides myself:

This Halloween…

This Halloween people hope for no snow in Syracuse
and that the temp. is under 80 in Memphis.

This Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis will star in Halloween Kills,
but perhaps after twelve films and four decades
there are some horrors that should just be left behind
in adolescence and others that should be faced head-on.

This Halloween night I will mourn the Halloweens
of childhood past as I wander the streets alone,
passing by trick-or-treaters wearing masks under their masks
beneath stars like pinholes punched in a perfect plum-hued sky.

This Halloween, just buy 2 bags of Snickers, because you know
you will eat through one of them before the 31st.

Thank you both Bob and Diane for contributing to tonight’s Scaretorium group poem!

And now it’s time for me to present, as I mentioned earlier in the evening, our very last Poetorium monthly form writing challenge in which for the last year we invited you to write in a different flash fiction or poetic form. I am sorry to announce that this will definitely be the final one due to dwindling interest but don’t worry, we will have something different to replace it starting next month. You might recall that last Halloween, we challenged you to write a six-word story?  Well, this month’s writing challenge was a variation on that. We invited you all to write a six sentence story or poem, preferably one with a Halloween theme (it could have included a title or not, the choice was up to you), but unfortunately only my cousin Dwayne Szlosek took up the challenge and submitted the following untitled poem:

Dracula’s a blood-thirsty fiend…
Frankenstein is the first to be the living dead…
Wolfman becomes a gypsy curse…
Mummies can be ruled by evil…
Witches can be ruled by the Devil…
They are all classic Halloween movies…

—Dwayne Szlosek

To tell you the truth, I was a bit disheartened by the lack of responses to this month’s challenge, and almost ended up not writing one myself but since I was the one who issued it, I felt it was my duty to present to you for your approval, the following hopefully chilling brief Halloween tale:

The Open Door

Arkham College photography student George Allenby was walking home from a Halloween photoshoot at Hope Cemetery along Webster Street at dusk when he first noticed the faint strains of “Radar Love” drifting from the century-old brick building in the distance. As he walked closer, he recognized the familiar voice of the early evening disc jockey of a local classic rock station blaring from the wide-open green wooden door of the Whitechapel Chemical Distribution Company. He thought “how strange, this is something you might expect to find on a warm summer evening in July or August, but not in the cool brisk weather of late October.” His first instinct was to call the police and report the incident of the open door, but he had forgotten his cell phone in his dorm room.  Although he knew deep within his gut that it wasn’t a good idea, curiosity got the better of him, so he poked his head through the darkened doorway and yelled “Anyone there?”, but there was no answer. As he unwisely entered the pitch blackness of the premises, the last thing George heard was the sound of ‘Stairway to Heaven” being cranked up to an ear-deafening volume as if to drown out any possible screams…

—Paul Szlosek

I hope you enjoyed this month’s submissions and want to thank Dwayne for being the lone submitter (besides myself) to our very last form writing challenge. As I said earlier, we will have something different to challenge you all starting next month.

Now I have a bit of a treat for you all. We will be taking a short intermission so you can check out the photos on display courtesy of Diane Puterbaugh and myself in a special Scaretorium photography show. Also, do you remember my cousin Dwayne’s time machine? During the break, you will have the opportunity to use it to travel back 45 years into the past to Edgar Allan Poe’s home city of Baltimore and attend a Halloween poetry reading held on the night of October 31st, 1976 at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Don’t be afraid to dawdle there and enjoy the poetry since you have a time machine and plenty of time to get back here for the second part of our open reading. By the way, you may notice the time machine looks very different since you saw it last June. That’s because while programming it for tonight’s adventure into the past, I accidentally hit a random button on the console and it morphed into a somewhat familiar-looking British blue police call box… Anyway, have fun and we will see you when you get back!

Intermission Begins

The Scaretorium Halloween Photography Exhibit

Photo by Diane Puterbaugh
Photo by Diane Puterbaugh
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek

Dwayne’s Virtual Time Machine

Click Here to Travel 45 Years into the Past to Attend a Halloween Poetry Reading on the Night of October 31st, 1976 at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore Maryland

Intermission Ends

PAUL: Welcome back, everyone! Hope you all had fun during the intermission…

When we think of Halloween, we usually think of ghosts, witches, and monsters. And what kind of monsters? Usually the classic ones such as Frankenstein, werewolves, and vampires. Well, I’d like to kick off the second part of the open with one of my previously unpublished poems about one I doubt you ever heard of before…

The Ballad of the Goo Goo Ga Ga Monster

At the age of three, I died
constantly in my sister’s dreams.
Each morning, she would wake
and regale me with her nocturnal
visions of my demise, explaining
how the night before the vacuum
cleaner had ambushed me on the stairs
and thrusting its crevice attachment down 
my throat, had slurped my insides out.

Or how as I ran across the lawn to greet 
her home from school, her yellow school bus 
suddenly swerved and pounced upon
my measly form, reducing me to just
another oily stain upon the grass.

Much too young to be bothered by the fact
that to my sister these were not hideous
nightmares but pleasant dreams, I waited
anxiously for the next installment of my death, 
soon learning that these were not just random
exterminations by machinery gone haywire, but  
masterminded by the dreaded Goo-Goo-Ga-Ga Monster.

Yes, the infamous Goo-Goo-Ga-Ga Monster
with a face of pablum mush and breath
putridly sweet like baby burps, patron saint
of sisters with bratty baby brothers,
the Grim Reaper of the toddler set.

As weeks passed, my deaths became less frequent,
my sister’s subconscious slowly ceasing its hostilities
until  Mister Goo-Goo-Ga-Ga vanished 
without a trace from her morning tales.
So I was forced to scour my own dreams,
hoping to glimpse his festering face, 
but he would never show. I was cursed with 
sweet dreams of chocolate choo-choo trains, 
fuzzy-wuzzy bunny rabbits, and puppy dogs. 
The  Goo-Goo-Ga-Ga Monster could not be
induced to make a guest appearance amidst
such nauseatingly wholesome company.

So here I am fifty years later, still obsessed with dreams 
not my own. Perhaps I just want to stare him in his eyes, 
and recognize my own mortality. Every story
I ever heard, every movie I ever saw
has had an ending, either happy or sad,
but my life, so far, has not. I just want
to be assured there will be a grand finale,
a slow fade into blackness, and the credits will roll
because how can you enjoy any story, no matter
how satisfying if you never know the ending.

Each night as I drift into slumber, I continue trying 
to conjure up the image of the Goo-Goo-Ga-Ga Monster, 
but each night, I fail. Yet one evening in the (hopefully
distant) future, I will not. I will finally grasp
his disgustingly slimy hand and exclaim
like some star-struck fan “I’ve heard so much
about you. I am so pleased to meet you,
pleased to meet you at last!”

—Paul Szlosek

As some of you know, I have a poetry blog called “Paul’s Poetry Playground. About a week ago, I wrote a post inviting my readers and fellow bloggers to participate in tonight’s Scaretorium. Our next poet accepted that invitation, traveling all the way from Manchester, England to be with us tonight. So please put your hands together for a big first-time Poetorium welcome for John Ormsby…

JOHN: Hi! My name’s John Ormsby and I’m an aspiring poet with a WordPress account: MrOrmsbyAtLarge. Anyway, here are my poems:

Happy Meal

The female spider dines alone
For reasons chilling to the bone
Perhaps more dates would turn out right
If she could curb her appetite

—John Ormsby

High Stakes

Should I love you
Take hold of you
Our first kiss would be your last
Blood pulsating
Seeping, sating
Taking more than I had asked.
This lifeless life out of the sun
Exiled from God’s own plan
Its beastly feast that’s fit for none
Was not how I began.
Still, you near me
Don’t you fear me?
I can pull you down to hell
No I’ll leave you
Let me grieve you
In that place where monsters dwell

—John Ormsby

Watch Your Tongue

When canny cannibals suggest
You call round as a dinner guest
You’re right to feel suspicious 
They’re hoping you’re delicious 
And if the book next to the pan
Is ‘How To Serve Your Fellow Man’
It’s time to quit the venue
‘Cause guess who’s on the menu?

—John Ormsby

All three of these poems appear on my blog:
Cheers, Mates!

PAUL: Thank you so much, John. And now please welcome a long-time Virtual Poetorium regular to the podium…


My First Halloween

My first Halloween started when I was young so very early in life, all I ever wanted to do is die like in all of those Halloween movies on FREAKY FRIDAY’s all of us wanted to be that way even if they were all boys, mothers, fathers, sisters or brothers for bringing us too, this planet and I just want you to know good luck and have a safe and Happy Halloween one and all.

Kids passing out candy, kids passing out candy and party’s, parties that we go to always invite us there. Great costumes that I didn’t even know who they were judging the costumes, bobbing for apples, playing ghetto games and Halloween masks that become us.

Trick or treat the smell my feet give me something good to eat. Goes out to every doorstep for candy and parties for goodies and pizza. Some wear costumes or make-up.

Later at night those who walked home would seal their doom. You could feel the slash felt real good to your sick descended souls. The shuddered screams of Horror as the blade crosses the thoughts of boxes yet to be opened while you finally get home you’re only tired of giving up the fight.

Looking at your goodies in your goodie bags that you got from each and every door. Some surprises and toys that you can share with your family and friends. It’s past midnight and you can feel the evil lurking at your own door. You can hear the moon scream while all the while you shudder every thought about the THRILLER NIGHTS.

You can go to your room just because the sounds you hear can make it. Watching the screen. While Freddy and Jason take the terror off the screen. And all the while you are watching and you feel something hit you hard.

—Mishelle Goodwin


Freaky Friday just before you change the number on your dial “What” Let me take you home. O.K. Micheal just one thing though I’m not like the other boys? The shrill of thousands screaming sounds and while you both are laughing you walk through the woods and it is very dark you are suddenly paralyzed. HA HA HA HA HA.

—Mishelle Goodwin


I hear the dogs howl,
The voices scream,
And all the while
The pitter patter of little feet
Saying Trick-or-treat!

—Mishelle Goodwin

PAUL: Thanks, Michele! John isn’t the only poet to come a long distance to be with us this evening. Please welcome our last month’s feature, trekking in all the way from the great state of Tennessee, Diane Puterbaugh…


October 2021

It’s Autumn now
the sun moves faster
slanting through the back door at 7:03
then the kitchen at 11:11
and finally the laundry room at 6:15

Celebrities ride in rockets
gravity touts itself as a tourist destination
satellites zip across the Corona Borealis-
a rush-hour of shooting stars

Orion, raised in perpetual aim
toward a target orbiting down range
long shot
moon shot 
covid shot

—Diane Puterbaugh

PAUL: Thank you so much, Diane! And now last but not least in the Scaretorium open mic, my cousin and the man who loaned us his time machine for tonight, Dwayne Szlosek…

Dwayne Szlosek Dressed in an Improvised Halloween Costume

DWAYNE: I hope you are all doing well and a Happy Halloween to you all! Due to the holiday Halloween, I thought  I would give Nine Gun Billy a break this month and give you two Halloween poems on this October evening instead. I hope you all enjoy them both…

Make Me Rich

Open your door.
Put a green bottle in the threshold.
Just say these words six times and six times more,
and just to be sure say it six more times
in front of your door:

“I’m not rich, I’m not poor.
I welcome all spirits to my front door.
Make me rich instead of making me poor.
I will let you stay in my home forevermore.
I will cast a spell so no one can break or can 
Make you leave my home. 
Oh, hear me spirits at my front door,
Make me rich instead of making me poor…”

—Dwayne Szlosek (Copyright 3/29/2021)

It Is Halloween Night

You’ll gasp with delight in every bite
You make on Halloween night.
Because you are a vampire
living in a neighborhood,
Looking out your window,
Seeing those sugar-sucking
Little monsters going to every house
Looking to pluck that sugar-sweet candy
From the bowl and put it into their bag.
They will say “Thank you
And we will not egg your house.”

On this occasion,
As they look up at you,
You look down on them and say
With a snickering laugh
“Thank you, and  I will
Not  bite you tonight,
My pint-size little snacks.”
And smile with delight,
Making them all wonder
What does that mean?
It means it is Halloween Night…

—Dwayne Szlosek (Copyright 8/23/2021)

Thank you all for coming tonight and have a safe and happy evening!

PAUL: Thanks, Dwayne, that was a lot of fun! As most of you know, Ron Whittle, my regular Poetorium co-host and cohort, is battling the return of his bladder cancer and can’t be with us tonight. But before I close out the show with a poem of my own, I’d like to share one of Ron’s with you. The following poem is the one he read to open the Virtual Poetorium last Halloween…

Halloween 2020

The end of Autumn howls
in the dark of the night
When shadows take flight
to wrap themselves around
tombstones, trees and such
A time for the dead
to reappear
as ghostly mortals
to haunt the imaginations
of whose who challenge
the night
near the old town cemetery
Lights flicker
wind chimes ring out a scary tune
and a fog appears
out of nowhere
An erie sight to see
as caskets lay opened
behind the veil of night
Creaking gates
Tomcats screech
and church bells
ring out a warning
at every step taken
beware the ghouls behind you
and the specters in front of you
As doorbells ring
and door knockers rap
Fear what is on
the other side of that door
as treaters descend onto
sidewalks full of tricksters
in full regalia
planning to trick you
into giving them sweets
in exchange
for safe passage into the night

—Ron Whittle

The final poem of the evening is one that I wrote many years ago. It is both a 26-word abecedarian and a magic spell. I hope you will enjoy it (and it doesn’t work)…

A Bloody, Creepy, Definitely Evil, Frightening,
Ghoulish Halloween Incantation

A Black Cat’s Dandruff,
Elderberry Flowers,
Giggle, Higgle, Intestines Jiggle.
Karloff’s Lurking Monster,
Necromancers’ Occult Powers.
Quabala, Rubella, Salmonella.
Tonight, Unspeakable Voodoo, Witchcraft…

Xalabombies, You’re Zombies!!!

—Paul Szlosek

Thank you so much everyone for participating in the Scaretorium! Have a good night, a scary but happy Halloween, and see you back here in November!

It Is Those Odd Little Shops I Like…

Today on the blog, I’d like to share with you the following poem which won third place in last year’s Worcester County Poetry Association’s Frank O’Hara Poetry Contest and originally appeared in the 2020 issue of The Worcester Review (hope you enjoy it):

It Is Those Odd Little Shops I Like

It is those odd little shops I like,
the ones you find nestled between abandoned storefronts
on side streets in down and out neighborhoods,
their signage (if any) sun-bleached to shades of pastel blue and peach,
announcing inexplicable names like Solomon’s Spa, Happy Sundries,
or Miami Bling Bling Bang Bang (although Florida’s a thousand miles
down the coast). There’s a mishmash of mismatched merchandise-
a quart can of motor oil, a latex swim cap, a toilet plunger,
a 12 oz. bottle of a foreign soft drink – haphazardly displayed
behind the large plate glass window almost opaque with grime,
an obligatory random houseplant (a gnarled jade tree or
a two-foot-high barrel cactus) apparently thriving on dust in the corner.
No customers are ever seen on the premises, so you wonder who shops here,
fantasize if its all a sham, a front for the mob to launder money,
the secret headquarters of the Illuminati or Trilateral Commission.
Someday, you think, if you have enough curiosity and courage
as you stroll by, you may stop, try the door, jiggle the handle.
If it’s not locked, you’ll enter hesitantly, survey the dim interior,
the new old stock scattered on shelves, sniff the air and detect a faint
not-quite-identifiable scent (spiced cabbage, frankincense, myrrh?),
a whiff of the old world or possibly the next. You nod to the gruff
wizened man or woman guarding the cash register, their eyes either
glaring or averted as if you weren’t even there. Snatch up a Zagnut,
a Sky Bar, a tube of medicated muscle rub and attempt a purchase.
“Not for you!”, they’ll say in an accent you do not recognize as they stash
the item beneath the counter.“Not for you!” they repeat as they wave
your money away with an arthritic hand and shoo you out the door.
You are the foreigner, the interloper here. This candy bar, this ointment,
this store, this side street, this neighborhood is not for you,
for who you cannot imagine, but definitely not meant for you or me
and that is precisely why I like these odd little shops so much.

—Paul Szlosek (originally published in The Worcester Review)

Invented Poetry Forms — The Singsangsong

Wow! It’s hard for me to believe but it’s been over two month since my last post on an invented poetry form, so I guess it’s time for me to do another one. Today I will discuss the Singsangsong, a form I invented which is an eighteen line poem consisting of six stanzas. The lines can be metered or not and have no fixed lengths (the length of each line can  vary within the poem). The stanzas alternate between couplets (two lines) in which the first line repeats as the second, and quatrains (four lines) in which all four lines rhyme with each other (a monorhyme). The first line of the quatrain also repeats as the fourth line (and in case of the final quatrain, the third line as well). In other words, the singsangsong’s rhyme scheme can be expressed (with capital letters representing repeated lines) as AA BbbB CC DddD EE FfFF.

Like many of the forms I have created, it”s probably more suited for light verse than serious poetry. Also because of its heavy reliance on repetition, the singsangsong is meant to be read out rather than read on the page, and should be recited in a singsong manner (hence its name) or even sung using a spontaneous, improvised melody. Here are three examples that I wrote which you can use as inspiration if you would like to try writing some of your own:

Prelude to a Panic Attack

I can’t shake this strange sensation.
I can’t shake this strange sensation

Something’s off-kilter, out of whack
Like a hidden widening crack
Or something lost I can’t get back.
Something’s off-kilter, out of whack.

What it is I cannot phathom,
What it is I cannot phathom.

I got this terrible feeling
Like a wound that isn’t healing
that sends my unsettled mind reeling.
I got this terrible feeling,

Can’t explain it but everything seems so wrong.
Can’t explain it but everything seems so wrong.

Some inexplicable event is happening here
Which floods my heart with paralyzing fear.
Some inexplicable event is happening here…
Some inexplicable event is happening here!!!

A Reluctant Departure

So long, my love, goodbye…
So long, my love, goodbye!

Now it’s time for me to leave you.
No, I’m not trying to deceive you,
Wish my absence won’t greatly grieve you
Now it’s time for me to leave you.

Arrivederci, sayonara…
Arrivederci, sayonara!

Our time together’s something we can only borrow.
Being away from you will cause me sorrow,
Yet I know I’ll be with you again tomorrow.
Our time together’s something we can only borrow….

Au revoir, auf Wiedersehen,
Au revoir, auf Wiedersehen…

I must go and we must part.
Although it is fracturing my heart,
I must go and we must part…
I must go and we must part.

Nostalgia For Summers Past

Oh, Summertime doesn’t seem the same,
Oh, Summertime doesn’t seem the same.

I remember what it was like when I was a kid
and all the groovy fun things that we did,
all the bike rides and Slip N Slides we slid.
I remember what it was like when I was a kid.

Oh, all those perfect August evenings,
Oh, all those perfect August evenings

Under cloudless moonlit skies,
Feasting upon ice cream and french fries,
Picking blackberries and chasing fireflies
Under cloudless moonlit skies.

Summer was always my most treasured season,
Summer was always my most treasured season.

I miss my wonderful childhood summers a lot.
Back then, they didn’t seem so miserable and hot.
I miss my wonderful childhood summers a lot,
I miss my wonderful childhood summers a lot!

Please let me know what you think of the singsangsong, and if you should write some of your own, don’t hesitate to share. Thanks so much for reading!

Invented Poetry Forms – The Kindku

In today’s post, we will be discussing the Kindku, a newly invented poetry form inspired by both traditional Japanese forms (like the haiku and tanka) and Found Poetry.  Co-created  by Cendrine Marrouat and David Ellis, here are the rules for writing one taken directly from their website, Auroras & Blossoms @ :

“The Kindku is a short poem of seven lines. The syllable pattern is 7 / 5 / 7 / 5 / 7 / 5 / 7 or 5 / 7 / 5 / 7 / 5 / 7 / 5.

The Kindku must include seven words that are taken from one specific source — a poem, a book, a newspaper article, etc. In the case of a book or long piece of writing, those words must come from the same page.

Words must be used in the order they were found. Their placement also depends on the line:

  • Line 1 starts with word 1
  • Line 2 ends with word 2
  • Line 3 starts with word 3
  • Line 4 ends with word 4
  • Line 5 starts with word 5
  • Line 6 ends with word 6
  • Line 7 starts or ends with word 7

Kindku poems can have titles and punctuation. No matter the topic covered, they must sport a positive tone.

Kindku poets are encouraged to credit and link to the inspirations behind their pieces.”

I’d also like to add that I was curious if the seven keywords had to be exactly how they appeared in the original source material or could they be in a modified form.  For example, if one of the words was a noun and was plural in the original, could it be singular in your kindku, or if it was a verb in the past tense, are you allowed to use the word in the present tense? I contacted Cendrine, one of the co-inventors of the form, and she told me the words, indeed, have to be exactly as found in the original text (which does make writing a kindku a bit more of a challenge).

Cendrine, also graciously gave me permission to reprint two of the first kindkus ever written (one she wrote, and the other by David, her co-creator) on this blog as examples (I also need to note, if you wish, you can emphasise the seven words taken from the original source material by highlighting them in bold, like Cendrine and David did in the following kindkus, but that is totally optional):

Art Writes Itself

Art writes itself in the heart
before other things;
intent lingers for a while
inviting practice,
lost hope to find a new map.
on this continent
you are the only master.

Kindku inspired by Elizabeth Bishop’s One Art

© 2020 Cendrine Marrouat

True Self Remains

Antique, old, not forgotten
Celebrate passions
Heart wants to be filled, always
True self will appear
Mighty are our selfless deeds
Happiness remains
Fear and doubt we chased away.

Kindku inspired by Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ozymandias

© 2020 David Ellis

Like in all my posts about poetic forms, I am also including my own humble efforts at writing some for you to use as models. I must confess that I did find the Kindku at first extremely difficult to write. Surprisingly, it wasn’t sticking to the exact syllable counts or word order that gave me problems, but the primary rule about the tone of the poem. I wouldn’t say that my first two attempts (one based on Robert Frost’s “The Witch of Coos” and the other from “The Fish” by Marianne Moore”) were exactly negative in attitude, but I wouldn’t describe them as positive and upbeat either, just rather neutral and detached in tone. According to the Auroras & Blossoms website, one of the main purposes of the kindku is to be “an invitation to promote kindness, positivity and inspiration through poetry” (as you can see, the word “Kind” is even a part of the form’s name), so I must emphasise that in order to write a true kindku, you should try to follow this rule as closely as you possibly can, even though what one considers positive probably varies from person to person. Hopefully, in these later efforts, I was able to achieve that goal, but I will let you, dear reader, be the judge:

Isn’t it Obvious?

Visible things often change
from invisible,
fluctuating in between.
Like a magic charm,
your own sense of perception
detects and opens
surrounding unseen doorways.

Kindku inspired by Marianne Moore’s A Jelly-Fish

All Your Uncertainty (Like the Weather) Will Soon Pass…

Fog creeps across the landscape.
Stealthily, it comes.
Little by little, things fade
(you can’t see your feet).
It seems the world’s dissolving
(so ghostly-looking),
then turns solid once again.

Kindku inspired by Carl Sandburg’s Fog

The Way of the Seasons

Summer simmers like hot soup,
cools into Autumn.
Winter, impatient, waits to
be relieved by Spring,
Sowing snow which will melt to  
feed crops planted and
thriving neath the vernal sun.

Kindku inspired by e. e. cumming’s anyone lived in a pretty how town

There is a technique I discovered while working on the above kindkus that I feel makes them easier to write which may prove helpful to you too. Instead of randomly deciding on which seven words to use beforehand, just go through your source material, and choose a word to begin. As you finish the first line,  scan for a succeeding word that will work in your second as your train of thought develops, and so on and so on, making sure to use the words in the order they appeared in the original work.  You will find this way provides flexibility and flow, and you won’t be forced to stick in a predetermined word that just won’t fit in your poem.

If you are like me, you may even find that writing kindkus will become addictive. As you grow more confident in writing them, here is a variant you might like to try using an entire (or partial) line from one of your favorite works (be it a poem, a song, a short, a quotation, etc.) as the source of your seven words. For an example, one of my favorite lines ever from poetry is the final line of “Refrigerator, 1957” by Thomas Lux – “You do not eat that which rips your heart with joy.” Using its last seven words, I came up with the following (which I found quite pleasing):

What’s That?

That unexpected feeling 
in your stomach (which
rips away complacency,
thoughts of despair), your
heart pounding in pure delight
(each thump pulsing with
love), is known, dear friends, as “Joy“…

Kindku inspired by Thomas Lux’s Refrigerator, 1957

So I hope you enjoyed today’s post on the Kindku, and will try writing some for yourself (it is a wonderful way to pay tribute to some of your favorite poems or other written works). Remember, even if you do find the rules a bit restrictive and intimidating at first, don’t give up. Keep going, and I can almost guarantee you’ll be more than satisfied with your results. And please don’t be shy about sharing them, either with me, or the kind folks at Auroras & Blossoms. I am sure they will be thrilled to see them!

Invented Poetry Forms – The Enneao

Thinking it would be an appropiate follow-up to my recent post on the Octo, today I decided to write about the Enneao, a poetry form I invented that was directly inspired by it. While the octo consists of 8 lines of 8 syllables, the enneao (which name was derived from the prefix “ennea” meaning nine) has 9 lines with 9 syllables each (however these 9 lines are divided into 3 stanzas of 3 lines apiece). Also like the octo, the first three lines are transposed as the final three lines of the poem, but in this case, the first line becomes the ninth line, the second becomes the eighth, and the third, the seventh. The fourth and sixth lines rhyme together, while the fifth line rhymes with the second (and eighth). The rhyme scheme (with capital letters representing the repeated lines and small letters the ones that rhyme) can be expressed as ABC dbd CBA.

To demonstrate how close the enneao is to the octo, I thought it would be fun to take one of the poems I wrote as a model for the octo, “Our Seemingly Unending Journey”, and rewrite it as enneao.

So first, to refresh your memory, here is the original poem:

Our Seemingly Unending Journey
(The Octo Version)

Where we will precisely end up?
I don’t think we shall ever know.
Seems a long time since we started.
In which season? I don’t recall.
Perhaps Winter or maybe Fall.
Seems a long time since we started,
I don’t think we shall ever know
where we will precisely end up.

By just adding an extra line, and an extra syllable to each of the pre-existing ones, you can see I was easily able to convert it into an enneao:

Our Seemingly Unending Journey
(The Enneao Version)

Just where we will precisely end up?
I do not think we shall ever know.
Seems like a long time since we started.

In which season? I cannot recall
(I do remember there was some snow…
so perhaps Winter, or maybe Fall?).

Seems like a long time since we started,
I do not think we shall ever know
just where we will precisely end up.

And now here is another example of an enneao I wrote:

Yes, There’s a Vacancy…

No one stays at the Ritz anymore,
most folks don’t realize it’s still open.
This old hotel has seen better days.

Once it was the hippest place in town.
People flocked here, but that was back then.
Now the owners pray it’d just burn down.

This old hotel has seen better days.
Most folks don’t realize it’s still open.
No one stays at the Ritz anymore…

I sincerely hope you enjoyed learning about the enneo today, and might even try writing one yourself (and if you do, please share!)  Thank you so much for reading as well as your continued support of this blog!

Invented Poetry Forms – The Octo

In today’s post, we will talk about the Octo, not to be confused with a host of similar-sounding poetry forms such as the Octameter (a form we discussed previously on this site), the Octain, the Octet, and the Octopoem (which is also often referred to as an Octo). Created by James Neille Northe, the octo is a poem of eight lines consisting of eight syllables apiece (like my own invented form, the streetbeatina). The first three lines of the poem is repeated as  the last three, but in reverse order. In other words, line 1 becomes line 8, line 2 becomes line 7, and line 3 reappears as line 6 (the exact words and their order must remain the same, but the punctuation can be altered). Also lines 4 and 5 rhyme together,  thus the rhyme scheme can be expressed as ABCddCBA (with the capital letters representing the repeated lines and the small letters the ones that rhyme).

If you would like to try your own hand an writing an octo, here are a couple examples I wrote which you can use as models:

The Agony of Parting From You

You don’t even dare think of me.
Dream of good times, as long as
your precious life keeps going on.
Perhaps we shall meet up again,
yet it’s best to forget. Til then,
your precious life keeps going on.
Dream of good times, as long as
you don’t even dare think of me.

Our Seemingly Unending Journey

Where we will precisely end up?
I don’t think we shall ever know.
Seems a long time since we started.
In which season? I don’t recall.
Perhaps Winter or maybe Fall.
Seems a long time since we started,
I don’t think we shall ever know
where we will precisely end up.

So what do you think of the octo, dear readers? Like always, I sincerely wish you will try writing one for yourself, and if you do, please don’t hesitate to share. I hope you enjoyed this post, and thank you so much for reading!