DD Writers Jam Fest: Poetry edition

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    I hope you enjoy this edition of the Docudharma Writers Jam fest, and please, feel free to contribute.

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For more detail on different styles of poetry, please go to poetryonline.com

   As my first contribution to this series, I thought it would be beneficial to all to start with a review of different styles of poetry with an example of each. This is a useful tool to show which styles there are and how you can use different styles to convey different emotions.

   I have written poetry since I was 16. I am now 29.

   My first writings were free style rap. I was influenced by Krs One and Rakim, as well as other early 90’s rappers like Jay-Z, Tupac and the Notorious Big. I was what you might call a wigger.

    Krs One, George Carlin and other influences were a strong in my early political and literary life.

    When my father died I dropped out of school and entered the workforce. To excersize my mind I would go to the public (socialist) library and devour books on all subjects, politics, economics, history, and the classics of prose and verse.

    After a year of experiencing the wage slavery of class war head on, I went back to high school. My first class of the day was Poetry. I feel in love and graduated as an honors student 2 years later.

    The problem with hip hop is that it is so highly structured, so fast and so short in phonetic flexibility that it is difficult to say much without being overly repetitive.

    Also, the english language simply lacks the rhymes. French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese are romance languages that are full of rhymes, most words end in O or A, and the depth of communication is certainly more rich than the large and overtly technical English language we use in American discourse.

    As George Orwell wrote of poetry

“Did you know there are only 10 words in modern Newspeak that rhyme with Rod?”

   Therefore, Engliish clearly has it’s poetic limits. The point here, and what makes the works of Shakespear so brilliant, is how we can strcth those limits and expand the boundaries in order to make our language so much more vivid and Descriptive.

   We can create a world of words that goes beyond the limitations of the world around us.

Shakespearean Iambic Penatmeter

Iambic pentameter is meter that Shakespeare nearly always used when writing in verse. Most of his plays were written in iambic pentameter, except for lower-class characters who speak in prose.

What is Iambic Pentameter?

Iambic Pentameter has:

•Ten syllables in each line

•Five pairs of alternating unstressed and stressed syllables

•The rhythm in each line sounds like:

ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM


    One tool I like to use is to work with the syllabels first and then move words to match the sounds

    The forest starts where the dead leaves begin

    Strewn on the grassy earth, where roots push out

    And grow and sprout, where the sunbeam is thin

    The trees close in, buds bloom, new life shall sprout.

    This is just a bit of doggerel I patched together on the spot, but you can see the patern easily enough.

    One trick I like to use to make the sounds match in each line is to make labels that represent each sound and match them up above the lines as I draft a piece.

An Example

  e   or  es   ar     er   e   ea    e    e  in

The forest starts where the dead leaves begin

   ew    n   e   a  e    er     ar    u   ush  out

Strewn on the grassy earth, where roots push out

   en   o   en    o     er   e    un   e     in

And grow and sprout, where the sunbeam is thin

   e   e      o    en  u    oo     e   i    al    out

The trees close in, buds bloom, new life shall sprout

With this style you can flip words around in each line and make the sounds fit the rhythm better without sacrificing the rhyme scheme or meter.


by: William Shakespeare

HEN let not winter’s ragged hand deface

In thee thy summer ere thou be distilled:

Make sweet some vial; treasure thou some place

With beauty’s treasure ere it be self-killed.

That use is not forbidden usury

Which happies those that pay the willing loan;

That’s for thyself to breed another thee,

Or ten times happier be it ten for one.

Ten times thyself were happier than thou art,

If ten of thine ten times refigured thee:

Then what could death do if thou shouldst depart,

Leaving thee living in posterity?

Be not self-willed, for thou art much too fair

To be death’s conquest and make worms thine heir.

“Sonnet #6” was originally published in Shake-speares Sonnets: Never before Imprinted (1609).



Limericks are officially described as a form of ‘anapestic trimeter’; the ‘anapest’ is a ‘foot’ of poetic verse consisting of three syllables, the third longer (or accentuated to a greater degree) than the first two. Lines one, two and five of a limerick should ideally consist of three anapests each, concluding with an identical or similar phoneme to create the rhyme. Lines three and four are shorter, constructed of two anapests each and again rhyming with each other. Thus, the overall rhyme structure of a, a, b, b, a, with the beat pattern

a:da-da-daah da-da-daah da-da-daah

b:da-da-daah da-da-daah

Often, lines three and four have an extra syllable at their start. Variations on this theme include the substitution of the final foot of a line to the iamb, a two-syllable foot with the accent on the second. Further substitution in this way can result in the maximum syllable count of

1. 9 syllables pause 3 1. da-da-daah da-da-daah da-da-daah

2. 9 syllables pause 3 2. da-da-daah da-da-daah da-da-daah

3. 6/7 syllables no pause 3. (da) da-da-daah da-da-daah

4. 6/7 syllables no pause 4. (da) da-da-daah da-da-daah

5. 9 syllables pause 3 5. da-da-daah da-da-daah da-da-daah


    This is much more challenging then simple forms of verse, but the results can range from lighthearted to hysterical.

There was a young man from Darjeelin

who got on a train board for Ealing

it said on the door

don’t come on the floor

so he carefully came on the ceiling



Fun, dirty, dirty fun.


    This is as simple as form poetry gets.

3 lines

5 – 7 – 5 syllabels per line, no rhyme scheme

There is true progress

and it’s total opposite

is Republican

   He he he he

Easy and fun, and something to teach the kids


    This is a classical form of French Poetry.

(for the guys) Love poetry. Wink Wink

In a traditional Villanelle:

The lines are grouped into five tercets and a concluding quatrain. Thus a Villanelle has 19 lines.

Lines may be of any length.

The Villanelle has two rhymes. The rhyme scheme is aba, with the same end-rhyme for every first and last line of each tercet and the final two lines of the quatrain.

Two of the lines are repeated:

The first line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the second and the fourth stanzas, and as the second-to-last line in the concluding quatrain.

The third line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the third and the fifth stanzas, and as the last line in the concluding quatrain.

Thus the pattern of line-repetition is as follows:

 A1 b  A2          – Lines in first tercet.

 a  b  A1          – Lines in second tercet.

 a  b  A2          – Lines in third tercet.

 a  b  A1          – Lines in fourth tercet.

 a  b  A2          – Lines in fifth tercet.

 a  b  A1 A2       – Lines in final quatrain.


    A perfect classical example of a Villanelle

Villanelle by W. H. Auden

Time can say nothing but I told you so,

Time only knows the price we have to pay;

If I could tell you, I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,

If we should stumble when musicians play,

Time can say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although

Because I love you more than I can say,

If I could tell you, I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,

There must be reasons why the leaves decay;

Time can say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,

The vision seriously intends to stay;

If I could tell you, I would let you know.

Suppose the lions all get up and go,

And all the brooks and soldiers run away?

Time can say nothing but I told you so.

If I could tell you, I would let you know.


   This form is not as difficult as it seems, just strictly structured. the easy flow and quick rhyme scheme can arouse strong emotions and vivid imagery. I suggest this form for any prospective paramours.

Free Verse

    This is one of my favorites. Anybody can use this style, and authors like Jack Kerouac and Allan Ginsburg made this style very popular during the 1950’s beatnik era, which was the foundation for the 60’s and the Progressive movement we are involved in today.

   No rhymes unless you want, no meter, no rules. Just wing it man.

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,

who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,

who passed through universities with radiant eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,

who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,

who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,

who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,

who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night

with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls,

Allen Ginsberg’s “The Howl”

    There are many, many other forms of poetry, some more complex and rigid, some free and open.

   The point is not perfection, but expression. Creativity, imagery, imagination, hesart and soul.

I will now leave the floor open for those of us who would like to experiment with different styles of poetry, and to discuss styles and favorite poets.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to sharing my thoughts below.


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  1. and let’s Jam.

    Here is some classical

    And here is some beatnik Jazz

    So, let’s jam

  2. I found myself next to Death’s door

    I found myself next to Death’s door

    And yet I yearned to breathe again

    I saw that death was waiting for

    The day that we would meet again

    A second chance! I strove to live

    In every way that I had dreamed

    With every breath I had to give

    I sought to learn what life could mean

    I dreamed of love like such a fool

    A wife, a home, a kid or two

    I forgot life is such a jewel

    It’s too bad it’s too short for you

    So I found myself at Death’s door

    And yet I yearned to breathe again

    I Yearn for life and all it’s for

    But Death won’t let me leave again

  3. Don’t know much about the various forms of poetry, never studied it.  But here’s some free verse of mine from 2004:


    Plastic pennants,

    Triangles of blue, white and red

    Sparkling in the sun,

    Whipping in the wind.

    Strings of pennants

    Heralding opening of

    New business,

    The kind you see in front of

    Car lot emporia,

    Delis, restaurants.

    Pennants, little flags,

    Made to dance in the wind,

    Reflect bright light of sun.

    And on an April day

    Of wind and light

    And wild blue yonder sky,

    Pennants wave

    In front of two month old sports bar

    Across the street from

    House of Suds Laundromat.

    Where in the afternoon

    The old people watch their wash

    Tumble madly in the machines.

    Ladies with sensible black shoes

    And oldmen scribbling notes

       to themselves on little pads of paper,

    Soapy smells of detergent and bleach.

    Standing, waiting, outside,

    Airplane in vast blue sky

    Flies over the Hell Gate Bridge

    And the pennants,

    Banderoles grabbing notice,

    Moving endlessly in

    The blue wind.

  4. I edit them every time I have to re-type them (if I can find them!


    From within a long

    Sweet and quiet winter

    A voice beckons me.

    A voice, sweet like flannel,

    From within the quiet,


    The way a lush oriental rug

    Interrupts the blonde grain

    On a wooden floor.

    The voice extends an invitation

    Large & warm as a man’s sweater

    Just worn.

    It offers shelter

    In a hidden cave of comfort.

    A cave obscure

    With hieroglyphs on its welcoming walls.

    A voice

    Sounding the way it does when

    A man’s voice tells a secret

    Or the sound of a door unlocking

    Or ice melting or

    The sound of a woman sleeping

    Or a candle burning

    Spring is waiting.”


    • pico on August 13, 2009 at 1:44 am

    rather than corrections: just to hone some of the definitions you’ve discussed above.

    Most limericks are actually amphibrachic.  I’m not sure why your link (as well as wikipedia) says that most are anapestic, since every single one of the examples are amphibrachic.  Literally, every single example: da DAA da / da DAA da / da DAA da.  The rhyme scheme is right, but I’d be a little more specific: not just aabba, but usually aaBBa, where lower case involves a feminine rhyme (stress on the penultimate syllable) and upper case a masculine rhyme (stress on the final syllable).  The example you gave fits that perfectly.

    Haikus are also a little more complicated than they first seem: in theory, the first and last lines are supposed to expresses contrasts, which are then linked by the middle line.  It’s a delicate, difficult art to do well.

    I love villanelles!  Can you interest you in a sestina?

    Not everyone can write free verse: in fact, most people shouldn’t.  🙂  To quote a film critic who was just discussing this point in relation to cinema: you can’t improvise jazz until you know the melody, and you can’t write free verse until you know how to write good old-fashioned metrical verse.  A lot of people don’t realize that Picasso trained himself by copying the classics.

    Ginsberg’s poem is simply Howl, without the ‘the’.

    Cheers for an excellent diary!

    • Robyn on August 13, 2009 at 1:50 am

    …that Muse in the Morning has always been intended as a place where people can post their work.

    Not that anyone does anymore…which has been rather painful for me.

  5. Obama decrees

    “Do what I say on health care”

    Trig is a goner

    A raucous town hall

    Teabaggin’ patriots know

    Rage trumps socialism

    Mighty caribou

    roamin’ the frozen tundra

    Where is my ammo?

    Other governors

    Need a full term to succeed

    What takes ’em so long?

    I love to Twitter

    Each tweet must be short and sweet

    No need to think much

    Gosh darn it to heck!

    Writin’ a haiku is hard

    Time to quit again

  6. the talent of those who are.  I will leave you with these two.  The first is a limerick called The Flue.

    “T’were a fly and a flea in a flue

    Said the flea to the fly, “What to do?”

    Said the fly, “Let us flee!”

    Said the flea, “Let us fly!”

    And they fled through a flaw in the flue

    I like that one a lot because it not only is an excellent limerick, the multiple uses of the letter “f” forms a fabulous forum, and also because the story is easy to follow.

    The last entry is, oddly enough, connected with fleas, and is what I have found yet to be the shortest rhyming poem in the English language.  It is titled Fleas, and goes,



    Good on you for promoting poetry.  My favorite recent poet was Kipling.  He was really, really good.

    Warmest regards,


  7. …the ambien has kicked in and to spite the lovely summary of “the rules of the dance” I have only recycled but recent stuff to toss in the soup.  But, inhibitions lowered, I shall do so…splatter all…


    At least Pygmalion loved her,

    in his nerdy fashion, and the spark was from Venus herself

    Though one day in the market

    Picking over oranges, beside the little stall

    Open only in summers, which sold cloudy sharp olive oil

    from Lebanon — you know the one, next that boy

    Who sells fat salted cashews and almonds

    The one who always looks so sad

    She looked up from the fruit to see another like herself

    Paying the roaster, politely avid, just

    Turning away

    Their eyes met — a flare of violet surprise – and then

    Disappeared into the crowd

    That night she made dinner

    For Pygmalion and his friends, served the second best wine

    Smiling welcome and making sure everyone knew they were

    Welcome guests

    While they spoke of running contests, the new fools in the assembly

    The death of Aneas’ wife in childbirth

    She offered a choice quip when the conversation flagged

    (for Aneas, a hand upon his shoulder, a careful empathy, the first dates)

    Watching the sun set between Aegean hills, gold across

    The men and women who loved her, knew all her stories

    Forgave her love his excesses

    And thought her strange creation nothing but

    The gift of a friend

    She found herself in tears

    Quickly hidden, and imagined herself

    On a ship with her sister

    The smell of tar and salt,

    Casting off

  8. Eyes open on this city

    Honking cars screams pitter patter conversation

    Yells of recognition brakes squealing

    sidewalk gum dirt piss city dust brown and oily

    everything terrible casts a shadow across the present

    even things that have not happened

    deaths and near deaths, sorrows we don’t even know

    yet presaged in the pattern of noises

    the way the taxi goes by too fast

    the light across a shopwindow

    the sound of our own breath walking between cars

    racing for the safety of the curb

    Why do I get crazy sad

    dark and slippery

    nobody loved or known

    not even

    the big fish miles out

    know this shadow

    always unnoticed before the

    flash of teeth

    black water

  9. The Sagas and Eddas were written in something called “skaldic verse” because they were originally meant to be sung. The most (in)famous of these, the classic story of Sigfried and Brynhilde, originally exists in a poem (or “lay”) called the Niebelungsleid. The poem is immense – 2400 stanzas long. You have to wait for the fat lady to sing a long damn time. ;-7

    I have been told that the melody used for the Niebelungsleid and the Hildebrandtsleid are the same. The early music band Piffaro has a version done with bagpipes on their compilation of early German music, Stadtpfeiffer.

    Icelandic verse is what most of the Sagas and Eddas were written in, for the same reason – they were transmitted as part of an oral tradition, and sung. Some were later written out in prose form. Most of these are predicated with the word “mal”, which means “lay” or “song”, as in Svipdagsmal, the lay of Svipdag. Icelandic poetry is more rigid in structure than Germanic verse and uses alliteration and “kennings”.

    My contribution here was written in a facetious email to inform my husband that I had managed to pick up two dolls on the Christmas gift list for his daughters. Ordinarily we celebrate Yule, not Christmas, but circumstances that year made it so that we would not have a chance after the typical NYC Christmas shopping frenzy to give our gifts to them, so I was actually forced to descend into the nightmarish scenario of finding a talking Scary Spice doll and a Swan Lake Barbie doll on Christmas eve in Manhattan. Few battles in my lifetime were harder fought. And so, I give you…


    Valiant the Vanadisir

    Visa-wielded on a venture!

    Mobs at markets do make merriment

    Scarce to seek as Scary Spice Singers

    Bravely battling bag-bearing bimbos

    Credit cards crashed on countertops

    Lines were long, your lady lingered

    Scouring through the seas of stores

    In the third of thronging toy-towns

    Finds she Freya’s finest flower!

    Sure a sign from Sessrumnir’s Swan Goddess

    Is the beacon of Brynhild-Barbie!

    Weary now the warrior woman

    Wends through winding, well-plucked ware-stalls

    Seeks the Scary Spice simulcrum

    Daughter’s delight to dutifully dower

    Eagle her eyes and earnest her elbows

    Hordes of harried herds do hound her

    Pries the puppet from it’s perch

    With war-cry wins the warbling wight!

    Now a doll delights a daughter

    Now a man is made most merry

    Now this Gydhia grins most gladly

    Now is all Yule shopping done.

  10. I had just gotten dumped by this guy, and was testing sendmail servers. Having to deal with both of these insanity-inducing situations at once caused me to distract and amuse myself by sending short stanzas immortalizing my emotional woe as test messages to track the functionality of the mail servers. Each one was unique and numbered, and contained deliberately facetious doggerel about my future loneliness like “I will die alone, half bats, and be eaten by my cats”. I referred to these as “The Sendmail Variations”, and thus began a tradition of using poetry to address frustrating situations in the IT sector.

    Sysadmins and network admins typically have an adversarial relationship based on the fact that neither of them are used to being cast in the role of having to ask someone else for service. Thus, after waiting a rather long time for a particular network admin to assign me ports on the network for a project, I submitted my third request to him for same in (not very stringent) iambic pentameter.

    Warre’s Warrior is port I like to drink

    And Sandeman’s Reserve is cool, I think

    It tastes good with a little orange slice

    Or crackers with some Stilton cheese is nice

    But woe, alas, the ports on Cisco blade

    Have not been given to me, I’m afraid

    Boo hoo, alas, gnashing of teeth, and woe

    [name censored] hoards these ports on the Cisco

    And will not give me any for RSC

    So I can test remote capability

    And it is now for these ports that I thirst

    So if you think this poetry’s the worst

    Then give me 5 ports please, for RSC

    Or you’ll get much more doggerel from me

    For long and long I’ve waited for these ports

    And crappy poetry’s my last resort!!!

    The hysterical laughter could be heard several cubes away and I got the ports immediately, but was told that all future requests needed to be submitted in haiku. He didn’t know me very well…

    Sun Alert ID: 49016

    Mail servers must be patched

    Against this annoying bug

    Read attachment please!

    Time drifting aimlessly,

    NTP becomes confused

    System crashing down

    Patches fix properties

    Otherwise which bring much woe

    Home at 3am

    Wise admin fixes bug

    Office-Tao in perfect peace

    His phone never rings

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