Visit Sol-Magazine at
Sol-Magazine Home Page:

If you reached this page from a link and not from our main page, then consider visiting us at the link above. We have over 200 web pages online.
updated 3/12/2006
© Sol Magazine 1997- 2006
All example poems are copyrighted 
works of the poets listed.



Wordplay, from the most ponderously serious to the most light and frivolous, is an entertainment common to most writers.  Originating in ancient times, Acrostic Verse is a game in which the initial or final letters of the lines form a word or phrase.

In this case, the first letters of each line in the example form the word "Nature."

Step By Step

Neither filled with tones of red nor purple
Amaranth for summer, winter contours of the ground reveal
Thin strands of disorderly crinkled vines
Underlining vistas of stiff brush
Remaining from what used to be unusual profusion
Entrancing animals and birds and us... beyond the pond.

Betty Ann Whitney, Wesley Chapel, FL, USA

Return to top of this page


An Alternating Quatrain is a four line stanza rhyming "abab."  SEE QUATRAIN.



The Japanese Maple tree
Is singularly unafraid
Its colors flame free
Even in the shade

Mary Margaret Carlisle, Webster, TX, USA

Return to top of this page

ANAPEST:  A foot of three syllables, the first two short or unstressed, the last long or stressed.  (See FOOT)


ANTHIMERIA – A rhetorical term described as the use of one part of speech for another.  The most common form of an Anthimeria occurs when noun is used as a verb.  Example:  “Table that agenda item until next week.”  In this case, the noun "table" has been used as a verb.


BLANK VERSE is written in unrhymed (blank) lines of iambic pentameter.  See IAMBIC PENTAMETER.


BOUTS-RIMÉS:  French for “rhymed ends,” a Bouts-Rimés poem is created by one person creating a list of rhymed words and giving it to someone else, who in turn writes lines that end the rhyming words, in the same order as given.  According to the Teacher’s & Writers Handbook of poetic Forms, edited by Ron Padget, this form requires mental agility and wit.  Said to have been invented by a seventeenth-century French poet named Dulot, Bouts-Rimés poems were popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when they were called “Crambo” in English.

BRIDGING TITLE:  The most distinguishing characteristic of a Bridging Title is that it is read as the first line of the poem it introduces.


After the Ball

I felt so alone
A leaf lingering in winter
About to be blown
From where you stared in silence
And turned as cold as stone.

Craig Tigerman, Moline, IL, USA

Many poems take as their title the first line of the poem itself, such as in "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," by William Wordsworth.  With a Bridging Title, however, the first line of the poem is not a repeat of the title, but instead acts as the first line of the poem, as in the example shown here.

Creating a Bridging Title may be simply a matter of placing the first line of your poem in the "title" position.  But it may also be used to introduce a certain irony.


Things We Have

Squandered, poured out like blood on sand:
Times we could have touched,
Our innocence, dreams of our youth,
Optimistic idealism for peace and love.

Craig Tigerman, Moline, IL, USA

Return to top of this page


A chant is a poem, usually of no fixed form, but in which one or more lines are repeated over and over.  It is usually meant to be spoken aloud.  The chant is one of the earliest forms of poetry, dating to prehistoric time, when cavefolk made incantations to protect themselves from storms, fires, wild creatures, and to help in the hunt, to find good mates, to keep the children safe and well, and to teach about those who went before.

Try this form by writing a titled incantation about your own life, about someone in your family you admire, or wish to remember.  The first line should have a strong rhythm and musical beat, since it will be repeated over and over.  This line should be very meaningful, stated as a demand, or a strong sentiment.  In our version of a chant, the first and second lines of the first stanza are the same, and every other line thereafter will repeat that first line.  Four stanzas, six lines to the stanza, except for the beginning, which is one line repeated.  Keep in mind, however, Sol's Guidelines now require that each line be 60 characters or fewer across, and some of the examples below violate that rule.


Wind Woman Lives On

My mother's voice is not mine alone
My mother's voice is not mine alone

Her humor rises in the laughter of my daughter
 My mother's voice is not mine alone
Her song sings from the mouth of my son
 My mother's voice is not mine alone
Her poems roll from the tongues of my grandchildren
 My mother's voice is not mine alone

She lives in the way my sisters walk
 My mother's voice is not mine alone
She grows in the gardens we tend
 My mother's voice is not mine alone
She rises in the bread we knead
 My mother's voice is not mine alone

I see her eyes in my daughter's face
 My mother's voice is not mine alone
I find her face in my son's son
 My mother's voice is not mine alone
Wind woman speaks through the rain and sun
 My mother's voice is not mine alone

Mary Margaret Carlisle, Webster, TX, USA

A Chant in Time

Time is bittersweet, how all things change
Time is bittersweet, how all things change

My wife's mother, WWII Navy recruit poster girl
 Time is bittersweet, how all things change
She was still winning golf games at sixty-five
 Time is bittersweet, how all things change
Now eighty, she struggles just to stay alive
 Time is bittersweet, how all things change

Baby, toddler, schoolgirl, wife, mother
 Time is bittersweet, how all things change
I watch you blossom, beauty like no other
 Time is bittersweet, how all things change
Your baby bears your image, circle of life
 Time is bittersweet, how all things change

It takes courage to age gracefully
 Time is bittersweet, how all things change
Fading to gray, wrinkling and slowing down
 Time is bittersweet, how all things change
Each precious day must slip away
 Time is bittersweet, how all things change

Craig Tigerman, Moline, IL, USA

For Having Known Grandma

We learned that love is a gift for having known Grandma.
We learned that love is a gift for having known Grandma.

It is no secret, she cared for life-- she cared for us.
     We learned that love is a gift for having known Grandma.
Her hand on ours, we saw the creation of light in shadow.
     We learned that love is a gift for having known Grandma.
We learned to touch delicate lines of stitchery, to hear spring rain.
     We learned that love is a gift for having known Grandma.

Her missing sight showed us a course through emptiness.
     We learned that love is a gift for having known Grandma.
We learned to see beyond the known-- to see more than the given.
     We learned that love is a gift for having known Grandma.
We learned the tone of absolute in her favorite hymns.
     We learned that love is a gift for having known Grandma.

Holding her hand through ins and outs-- the problems of living
     We learned that love is a gift for having known Grandma.
We learned to constantly see new ways to see familiar.
     We learned that love is a gift for having known Grandma.
Her contentment was to give and receive. That was her contentment.
     We learned that love is a gift for having known Grandma.

Betty Ann Whitney, Wesley Chapel, FL, USA

Return to top of this page


CINQUAIN:  From the French, meaning "a grouping of five."  The Cinquain has five lines, with two, four, six, eight, and two syllables, respectively.  Twenty-two syllables total.  No more than two full sentences. The Handbook of Poetic Forms suggests:  Do not add words to fill out this form; write with feeling, but do not allow your writing to become cloyingly sweet; build toward a climax and put a surprise into your last two lines.  Rather than parts of speech, be concerned with thoughts and images.

Return to top of this page

CINQ-CINQUAIN:  From the French, meaning "five groupings of five."  The Cinq-Cinquain consists of five Cinquain.  Each has five lines, with two, four, six, eight, and two syllables, respectively, with twenty-two syllables per stanza.  See CINQUAIN.


For the Summer of My German Soldier

No love,
No love at all,
Everybody hates me,
Is it because I hurt Patty?
Who cares?

Oh no,
I did something,
The belt! No! Not the belt!
It's my fault, what did I do wrong?
I'm sorry...

My light,
Two rafts, two lights
Ruth and Anton love me,
They are my salvation and warmth,
Thank God...

That's it, beauty,
Her hair is beautiful,
No, the ugly chick is a swan,

Don't abuse her,
It's not good for business,
You'll ruin it all for us, Harry.
Stop it!

Justin Tigerman, Moline, IL, USA

Return to top of this page

This titled form, consists of exactly ten lines, the first line having one syllable, each succeeding line adding a syllable, with a total count of fifty-five syllables.  This form allows both rhyme and meter, while its similar cousin, the ETHEREE, allows neither.



In my lawn
Fearfully eyes
Each move I make, then
Bolts when I get too close
Flash of white tail disappears
Until next time those eyes and ears
Sit motionless but shrewd in my yard
Fearful of being stewed, ever on guard.

Craig Tigerman, Moline, IL

Return to top of this page


This form asks for a one-stanza poem titled in one word, with exactly ten lines; each line has a set number of syllables.  This form lends itself to a humorous style.

Pattern:  10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1



When I asked for a kitten to come and
Play with me, my Mother refused. She
Said, "No cats, frogs, gerbils, turtles
Rats, mice, sheep or parakeets."
She quickly relented
Said, "A kitten's good,"
When Daddy said
"Go get a

Mary Margaret Carlisle, Webster, TX
(c) Sol Magazine 2001

Return to top of this page

COUPLET: a unit made up of two lines of poetry of the same meter that usually rhyme.  A closed COUPLET is where both lines are end-stopped (pause at the end).  An open COUPLET is where the second line is a run-on line (completes the thought in the following couplet).  The COUPLET is usually part of a stanza, but in short poems it may be the entire stanza or poem.

The following example shows examples of both closed and open couplets:

Claiborne Walsh was young and full of vim,
Wanting to impress that one special him.

Didn't want to appear too giggly or girlish.
Tried hard not to be too mean nor churlish.

At the park she saw him while batting baseballs,
Listened raptly, gazed adoringly, got phone calls

Let him throw baseballs for her to bat and hit.
He didn't really think she would so well with it.

It's a miracle this fellow's still up breathing and alive.
She conked him in his loins with a solid hit line drive.

Claiborne Schley Walsh, Montrose, AL

Return to top of this page

DORSIMBRA:  The Dorsimbra, a poetry form created by Eve Braden, Frieda Dorris and Robert Simonton, is a set form of three stanzas of four lines each.  Since the Dorsimbra requires three different sorts of form writing, enjambment can help to achieve fluidity between stanzas, while internal rhymes and near-rhymes can help tie the stanzas together.  (See ENJAMBMENT, and IAMBIC PENTAMETER.)

Stanza One:  Four lines of Shakespearean sonnet (iambic pentameter rhymed abab).
Stanza Two:  Four lines of short and snappy free verse.
Stanza Three:  Four lines of iambic pentameter blank verse, where the last line repeats the first line of Stanza One.


Breaking Down

I hear their yowling all about the yard.
Tonight, inside my dreams—tonight, the noise
Drowns out the neighbor dogs with disregard.
Tonight I am entrapped and without poise.

Listen.  Cats!   Even
As they're caught in the glare of
Sudden bedroom lights
They wail.

Disturbed, I pace the floor, expecting not
A leisure time of breakfast before work
Tomorrow.  Or the next day.  Or the next.
I hear their yowling all about the yard.

Betty Ann Whitney, Wesley Chapel, FL, USA


Return to top of this page


DOUBLE:  Sometimes poets repeat a short form twice in the same poem.   For
instance, when two Haiku are used to create a poem, they may be referred to
as a Double Haiku.



Two stanzas of exactly five short lines each, titled, written as a portrait, usually of a loved one.

Return to top of this page



A work of art based on another composition.  In poetry, this type of work takes as its theme a particular piece of visual art of any genre, virtually representing through poetic description something originally represented visually.

ENJAMBMENT:  Enjambment occurs when a sentence, clause, or phrase in poetry runs over the line break onto the next line or into the next stanza.  This technique can not only pull the reader's eye forward, and keep rhythm or rhyme from becoming too predictable, it can also accelerate a poem's pace.  This is opposed to end-stopping, where each phrase or sentence corresponds with line length.


Often with a Narrowed Eye

and a piercing call, a sharp
shinned hawk dives at my
feeder for sparrows and
wrens.   Nor will he turn
down a meal of white-
dove.  No
matter how
much larger they
may be than he, the
hawk is determined to

Mary Margaret Carlisle, Webster, TX, USA

Return to top of this page



The Envelope Stanza is a quatrain with the rhyme scheme "abba", such that lines 2 and 3 are enclosed between the rhymes of lines 1 and 4. Two of these stanzas make up the Italian Octave used in the Italian sonnet. (SEE QUATRAIN.)


Delicate angels watchful of strangers
Ever-hover, ever-love, precious send
Sweetest respite of night's dreams, always lend
Arms strong with charms to hold off all danger.

Paula M. Bentley, Portsmouth, VA


Created about twenty years ago by an Arkansas poet named Etheree Taylor Armstrong, this titled form, the Etheree, consists of ten lines of unmetered and unrhymed verse, the first line having one syllable, each succeeding line adding a syllable, with the total syllable count being fifty-five.

This concise form is meant to focus on one idea or subject.



Buds are
Peeking through
The grey back fence.
Each bloom is lovely.
And as one opens out
In splendid peachy yellow
Beginning as a tiny bud
Until it ends a plate-sized dazzler
I am lost in a reverie of "Peace."

Mary Margaret Carlisle, Webster, TX

Poet's Note:  The "Peace" rose is found both as a shrub and a climbing vine.  This fragrant beauty has long been admired in American gardens, and was welcomed into the poet's mother's backyard more than fifty years ago.

Return to top of this page

FOOT:  Each of the temporal periods into which a line of poetry is divided is called a foot.



A Found Poem is a piece not intended to be a poem, but discovered in a newspaper article or magazine, or from bits of conversation, or even from the contents of a note, then announced as such by its finder.

Though not "created" by the poet per se, the Found Poem does require skills for the craft.  The finder must be sensitive to exceptional material that will evoke a response.  Essentially, the finder may not change, add to, or omit words, but may choose its arrangement of line breaks and punctuation.

Example One (quoting conversation)


I see
from the window
my cat
heading up toward
the kitchen door.

Guess I'd better go

Example Two (quoting a newspaper article)
Through the Mist

Misted Windows
Firefighters Spray

Water        To Symbolize

The Collapse         of the World

Trade Center.

Example Three (quoting combined headline and article)
For Basketball

girls travel
team forms
basketball is more
than a game.

It's a passion
the family of four
regularly attends.

Betty Ann Whitney, Wesley Chapel, FL, USA

Return to top of this page



In Free Form, or Free Verse, the word "free" means a poem is free of metrical restriction.  The flow of natural speech is the most effective tool in the Free Verse.  Its use conveys the illusion of spontaneity, and is frequently used to express the unique feeling of personal poems.

More about Free Verse may be seen in Judson Jerome's "The Poet's Handbook," full of detailed instruction in the mechanics and art of writing poetry and answers to the questions most often asked by beginning poets.

NOTE:  Although free verse allows the poet freedom to choose line length, Sol Magazine requires that each line may be no longer than 60 characters, including letters, spaces between words, and punctuation.  Read individual contest rules for other restrictions.


Circadian Rhythms

Afloat in an alabaster bowl
The pale pink water lily
Opens at dawn, closes at dusk
Continuing the rhythm
Of Lake Amakanata, her home
Mirrors the memories
My mind enfolds around you
When we are apart.

Lois Lay Castiglioni, Galveston, TX


Return to top of this page

GHAZAL:  Pronounced something like "Ghuz-awl," the Ghazal began simply as rhyming romantic poems, with an average of seven couplets, where the couplets (two-line stanzas) were united more by meter and rhyme, rather than by content. Each couplet was self-contained, and the two lines were of a similar length from couplet to couplet. The original Persian form, still popular in Iran, India and Pakistan, usually had between five and twelve couplets, with the name of the poet signed as part of the final stanza.

Although still succinct in form, contemporary Ghazals no longer usually rhyme, poets no longer sign their names in the last stanza, and the poems are no longer exclusively about love or drinking. All that remains of the original form seems to be long-lined couplets, usually on mystical topics, and the idea that the independent couplets of a Ghazal need not be unified in concept or theme.  Any Ghazal you enter in a Sol competition should carefully follow contest instructions, and:

1)  be titled
2)  have seven stanzas (seven couplets)
3)  use similar meter in line one and line two of each stanza, but not necessarily be the same from stanza to stanza
4)  introduce new ideas in each stanza
5)  use long lines
6)  not use rhyme
7)  not include the poet's name in the last stanza
8)  not be about love or drinking

Notice in the following example, each couplet loosely follows the theme of  "Speaking for the Earth," but each one is about a different aspect of that theme.


 From Fields, From the Tops of Mountains, Day On Night, Earth Speaks

High noon, midsummer flood roars day on night
upsurging the field, uprooting the tree.

Out of nowhere, a drought has scorched the land
flat bits of dead cells in wind--far as an eye can see.

Buried in soil, poison chemicals linger for decades
dispersed from rivers and runoff into the sea.

Wide as that first morning light, immunity breaks down
disease and other problems plague the earth: you and me.

Saving the rainforest means saving its ecosystem
and so will begin balance rising steadily.

The layer of stratospheric ozone, high above Antarctica, leaks
micron by micron into mid-air.

Of time and weathers, a future life on down into centuries
depends on knowledge, and that perfect service of ecology.

Betty Ann Whitney, Wesley Chapel, FL, USA

For more about this form, see "The Teachers and Writers Handbook of Poetic forms," edited by Ron Padgett.

Return to top of this page


American Haiku is a short form that evolved from the Japanese Haiku form.  There are many different styles of American Haiku, ranging from  the simple 5/7/5 style taught in most grade schools, to more complex styles that not only consider every single element to be important, but also demand a certain type of punctuation.  Although our rules may be unfamiliar to those well-versed in the various Japanese styles of Haiku, Sol Magazine prefers a style based on the Haiku rules found in TheTeachers and Writer's Handbook of Poetic Forms.  Note that our rules also give a nod to the styles described by R.H. Blyth (A History of Haiku), Cor van den Heuvel (Haiku and Senryu in English), and William Higginson (The Haiku Handbook.)  If you are just starting to write in this form, begin with Sol’s Basic style of Haiku.  More advanced writers, try the challenge of Sol’s Advanced Style of Haiku.  Please follow the rules for either Basic or the Advanced style when entering one of our competitions.

Sol Magazine’s Basic Style of Haiku
Basic Haiku must:

1)  involve nature
2)  share no emotion
3)  use simple words and expressions
4)  relate to concrete things directly without abstractions, metaphors, comparisons, or personification (see METAPHOR)
5)  use few adjectives, no articles, and no possessives
6)  be untitled and unpunctuated
7)  be written in three lines with fewer than seventeen syllables
8)  include a strong clue about a particular season
9)  involve the senses
10)  not reference people unless expressly allowed in a competition


brief bright season
dispersed through autumn sky
leaves seeds pods

Betty Ann Whitney, Wesley Chapel, FL, USA

Sol Magazine’s Advanced Style of Haiku
Advanced Haiku must follow all of the basic rules, but also:

11)  not reference man-made objects
12)  do include a duality*
13)  are written in three short lines with seventeen or fewer syllables where the middle line is longer than the other two lines

* Duality shows two opposite ends of a spectrum such as foreground/background, past/present, temporality/eternity, sound/silence, near/far, then/now, high/low, etc.  Examples:  Ancient pine/new pond; tall pine tree/tiny crocus; loud thunder/quiet raindrops; clouded sky/clear water; birth/death; tender rose bud/sharp thorn.  Duality is not always expressed in the same line.


ancient amber drop
conceals hatchling pine beetles
flicker eats borer
Mary Margaret Carlisle, Webster, TX, USA

Not Haiku!  (Five/Seven/Five)

Just for fun, but not for competition unless we ask for it, why not also try the Not Haiku! (known also as Five/Seven/Five) form.  We find this style to be warmly reminiscent of the Haiku taught in grade schools.  It asks that your poem be:

1)  untitled
2)  where the first line must be in exactly five syllables, the second line in exactly seven syllables, and the third line in exactly five syllables

Return to top of this page


Poetry written with ten beats per line, in two-step rhythm (ta-DUM ta-DUM ta-DUM ta-DUM ta-DUM).  The two-step rhythm is called "iambic."  The fact that there are five such "iambs" per line makes it "pentameter" (penta = five).

Return to top of this page



Impressionistic poetry gives a broad idea rather than a particular description, for it is based on an impression as opposed to reason or fact.  To write in an impressionistic way, a poet must interpret this impression rather than capture reality.  This can be done in many ways.  For instance, one can imply a response to a feeling rather than describe the feeling, or mirror not an object but a reaction to an object, or write about some indistinct notion or recollection in a fluid, richly colored way.  This does not mean that the poet must forget the importance of precise construction and form, but merely gather and interpret impressions.



her ways are as soft
as filtered moonlight through a humid sky
almost overlooked in anyone else’s presence
even a curtain’s slight movement
distracts from her features
until she speaks
and then the world breathes
to her breath
and sighs

Mary Margaret Carlisle, Webster, TX, USA
© 2003 Sol Magazine

Return to top of this page


BASIC FORM:   The Lilibonelle was created by Sol Magazine editor, Bonnie Williams.  The basic form is four stanzas of four lines each, in which each line of the first stanza is consecutively repeated as the first line of each of the other stanzas, and allows for a variation where an extra final line may be included.   Use an introspective or reflective theme with this form, one that conveys a loving, wistful or poignant feeling.

Poets must use the basic form for poems entered into competition at Sol Magazine unless a notation to the contrary is made within the contest notes.

EXPANDED FORM:  As long as there are a minimum of four lines and four stanzas, and the lines of the first stanza are used as the opening lines of the successive stanzas, the poem may be considered a Lilibonelle.  Poets are encouraged to play with rhyme schemes, rhythm, repeated ending line, or other creative twists.  If there are five stanzas, use five lines per stanza.  If six stanzas, use six lines per stanza.  In any case, poets may always end the final stanza with an extra line.

Example of the Basic Form:


that sweet ringing of early morn
alights my eyes and thrills my soul
a wealth of love enveloping me
filling my heart making me whole

alights my eyes and thrills my soul
a warmth encircling from heart to toes
trembling hearing soft sweet songs
the melodies of loving shows

a wealth of love enveloping me
treasure beyond compare
when holding warm and near like this
much closer than the air

filling my heart and making me whole
a passion so deep we have sworn
our love will last eternally
as sweet ringings open each morn...

Bonnie Williams, Deptford, NJ, USA


Stanza 1 line 1
Stanza 1 line 2
Stanza 1 line 3
Stanza 1 line 4

Stanza 2 line 1 repeats Stanza 1 line 2
Stanza 2 line 2
Stanza 2 line 3
Stanza 2 line 4

Stanza 3 line 1 repeats Stanza 1 line 3
Stanza 3 line 2
Stanza 3 line 3
Stanza 3 line 4

Stanza 4 line 1 repeats Stanza 1 line 4
Stanza 4 line 2
Stanza 4 line 3
Stanza 4 line 4

Return to top of this page


A LIMERICK is a five-line poem, written in anapestic rhythm, with lines 1, 2, and 5 containing three beats and rhyming, and lines 3 and 4 containing two beats and rhyming.  No one knows where the LIMERICK came from.  It might have been brought to the town of Limerick, Ireland, by soldiers returning from France, in 1700.  Our definition was borrowed in part from "The Teachers & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms," edited by Ron Padgett.  NY, 1987.


Excise Solution

There once was a woman named Sue
Who forgot when taxes were due
The IRS man
Thought Susie was grand
Now he's paying taxes for two

Lois Lay Castiglioni, Galveston, TX, USA

Return to top of this page


Metaphor comes from the Greek, and means "to carry or bring across or beyond."  Metaphor, a powerful item in the poet's toolkit, is a literary device.  It takes two things and connects them to put a new idea or image in the reader's mind.  (This definition from "Handbook of Poetic Forms," edited by Ron Padgett.)  The Handbook lists these categories of metaphor:

1.  X is Y.  This is a true metaphor and brings two things together, equating them in a more complex and inclusive way than simile.

Examples: "The river is a playground." and "His mind was a barren wilderness."
2.  X of Y.  This type of comparison is common, and has given rise to many over-used, worn-out, and trite comparisons.
Examples: "Heart of stone." and "Nerves of steel." and "Barrel of laughs."
3.  X-Y.  Here two words are joined together, usually by a hyphen.
Examples: "Knife-tongue," "Kitten-girl."
4.  X is like Y. This kind of metaphor is called "simile." More explicit than other metaphors, similes always use the words "like" or "as" to make the connection, merely joining two separate images or ideas.
Examples: "Her eyes were like fiery caverns." and "Her smile was sweet as pie."
5.  Personification, a related form of metaphor, can be an abstract quality or thing that is treated as if it were human, and it can also be a person regarded as the embodiment of a quality.

We often attribute human traits and feelings to natural or inanimate objects.

Example:  "Peeking out from a somber cloud, an early sun smiles down at the sleepy town."  "A jukebox swallows our tongues, and raises to stand as a flashing light and a mega boom boom."
Equally common is the practice of attributing the qualities of an abstract principle to a person.
Examples:  "Generosity itself, she insisted on making us comfortable in her own tiny rooms."
Many poetry forms benefit from the use of metaphor, simile and personification, but because Haiku is meant to relate to things directly, refrain from the use of these tools in Haiku.

Return to top of this page

METRE: Metre is an abstract pattern that occurs when rhythm is formally organized.  It imposes a regular recurrence of stresses or syllables that is intended to divide a line into equal divisions of time, or feet.  (See FOOT.)


MIKU: from "minimalist" (using simplest and fewest elements to gain the greatest effect) + "Haiku."  Created by Kevin Taylor, Miku is a short poetic form of three lines derived from traditional Japanese Haiku.  In order to create Haiku that sticks to the agreed upon form, inexperienced poets often add articles to the original vision to force it to a fixed syllable count, thus diluting the impact of the artist's creation.  Miku eliminates articles.  Haiku is about nature, not directly subjective, although the effect often is. There is frequently a suggestion of a season and Haiku are almost always written in the present tense giving them a sense of immediacy.  The spirit of Haiku in minimalist style is the essence of Miku, many of which are only a few words per line long, and untitled.

Return to top of this page


Narrative (story-telling) poems use strong themes, and journalistic tools (the elements of "who, what, when, where, "why") to develop vivid pictures without excess detail.  Only the most important elements are left in, those paramount to "showing" the story through clear images, rather than "telling" the story in many words.  Beware of author intrusion in the guise of excess adjectives.  Some of the best Narrative poems begin "in medias res," or "the middle of things."


Toilers and Warriors

In the undertow of the barrio,
toilers and warriors
slouch down to earn their pay.
Sweat drips from down brow.
Callous grow the hands whose
fingers caress a young woman.
She scrubs linoleum
on wet knees.  Chapped knuckles
wipe dry on damp apron then reach
for her child.  A young boy
with such soft palms stretches
out to touch his mother's face,
to find the thin place,
hearing her heart hum.
His father lurks
in the shape of his hands.

Maryann Hazen-Stearns, Ellenville, NY

"Toilers and Warriors" was published in "Under the Limbo Stick," by Maryann Hazen-Stearns, Vivisphere Publishing, 2001.  It appears here with the permission of the poet.

Return to top of this page


Usually grouped with French forms, the Pantoum (pronounced "pan-TOOM") is the Western version of the Malaysian form, "pantun." This indefinite form first appeared in Malayan literature during the fifteenth century, but gained popularity much earlier, recited by memory.  Commonly light in tone and treatment, the Pantoum repeats lines.  Lines 2 and 4 of the first stanza become lines 1 and 3 of the next stanza, etc, following this pattern throughout the poem, ending always with line 1.  (Portions of this definition were borrowed from The Teachers & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms, edited by Ron Padgett.)
________________ (line 1)
________________ (line 2)
________________ (line 3)
________________ (line 4)
space  (stanza break)
________________ (line 5 - repeat line 2)
________________ (line 6)
________________ (line 7 - repeat line 4)
________________ (line 8)
space  (stanza break)
________________ (line 9 - repeat line 6)
________________ (line 10)
________________ (line 11 - repeat line 8)
________________ (line 12 - if last line in the poem, repeat line 1)

Sometimes the ending stanza has an interesting variation where (although its first and third lines are as the same as the second and fourth lines in the stanza above it) the second and fourth lines are the same as the third and first lines of the first stanza.  This allows the poet to use each line of the poem twice. The Pantoum can be of any length the poet chooses.  The last line always repeats line 1.

Into a Multitude of Other Lives

Between one future and the next,
There is no entrance to change.
History leaves no doorway from which to travel
Yet, I could change the world.

There is no entrance to change.
Air travels outward and upward, stretching,
Yet, I could change the world.
In all of history, bits of the world are carried. 

Air travels outward and upward, stretching,
As a tunnel in which to return.
In all of history, bits of the world are carried 
For a great measure.

As a tunnel in which to return
I cup my hands -- to haul others in.
For a great measure
Between one future and the next. 

(line 1)
(line 2)
(line 3)
(line 4)
         (stanza break)
(line 5 repeats line 2)
(line 6)
(line 7 repeats line 4)
(line 8)
        (stanza break)
(line 9 repeats line 6)
(line 10)
(line 11 repeats line 8)
(line 12)
        (stanza break)
(line 13 repeats line 10)
(line 14)
(line 15 repeats line 12)
(line 16 repeats line 1)

Betty Ann Whitney, Wesley Chapel, FL, USA
Return to top of this page


PLEIADES:  This titled form was invented in 1999 by Craig Tigerman, Sol Magazine's Lead Editor.   Only one word is allowed in the title, followed by a single seven-line stanza.  The first word in each line begins with the same letter as the title.



Men who are from
Mars perhaps come
Masking insecurity by
Mything dreams in
Midas-power, touching
Much in hopes of gold, yet
Missing Venus' point.

Craig Tigerman, Moline, IL

Return to top of this page


PROSE POEM:  A Prose Poem looks like prose, but reads like poetry with no rhyme or preset rhythm.  At Sol Magazine, competition poem line lengths must be limited to 60 characters across, including spaces between words, but when writing for another market ignore this limit.  Usually created in one musical paragraph only a few sentences long, a Prose Poem contains many of the same devices of lined-out poetry, including imagery, density, quickness, and freshness of language.  Most Prose Poems are light in nature, and many are quirky or mischievous and begin in a serious way then end in parody, incongruity, impishness or surprise.  This form lends itself to experimentation.  It may be difficult to distinguish between prose poetry and poetic prose; for another example, peruse the metaphorical works of Gertrude Stein.

Reading Robert Bly

Rare afternoon guarded for writing with barred door,
picket fence of restrictions.  Tilted back in posture-
perfect chair staring at blank screen staring back deepblue
intense gaze of a newborn.  Diving into the blueness
coming up empty every time dry eyes smarting. Turn to
Bly's juiciness.  Emerge forty-five minutes later
overflowing in words--translucent, ecstatic, ferocious,
eternities, sweet dark, night-mother—with feet propped
on desk varnish-sticky calves pressed against ridged
edge, bare flesh erupting in corduroy ribs. Ease the
stripes with touch.  Remember Bly meditating on life and
nature.  Beyond my white shutters leaves dance green
dizziness against graying sky. Cursor blinks leaving slow
slime track, white words over deepblue.

SuzAnne C. Cole, Houston, TX, USA

Return to top of this page

QUATRAIN:  Consisting of four lines, rhymed or unrhymed, Quatrain comes from the French word "quatre," and from the Latin word "quattuor," meaning four.  When unrhymed, it is referred to as a "tetrastich," which means "to walk four."  Popular in European poetry, it is commonly used in songs and ballads.  When used in longer poems, the Quatrain provides a resting place between stanzas.  This definition comes from "The Handbook of Poetic Forms," edited by Ron Padgett.

Rhymed example:

Wishes for a Child

Keep safe against all kinds of weather
Run strong along the blooming heather
Rise high as if a gently floating feather
Stow dreams safe inside heart's leather

Mary Margaret Carlisle, Webster, TX

Tetrastich example:

Cat-wind winds chill around ankles
Bites through woolen socks and pants
Chases goosebumps up cold legs
Leaps unhindered into unbuttoned jackets

Mary Margaret Carlisle, Webster, TX

Return to top of this page



A Redondilla is an eight-syllable quatrain rhyming either abba or abab, but in the latter rhyme scheme it is usually called serventesio. Sometimes a Redondilla is referred to as Redondilla Mayor, Cuarteta and Cuartilla. Formerly the term included the Quintilla and was also applied to any eight-syllable strophe in which all the verses rhymed in consonance. This is an important form, for it was adapted by one poet after another until Lope de Vega and Calderon used it widely, for example, to create mood in drama. (This definition was found in "The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory," J.A. Cuddon, c. 1998, p. 735)


Felix Navidad

In a box half-filled with Christmas
Softly snores my fearsome BadCat
Contented snug aristrocrat
Thinks: Perhaps I'll keep my mistress.

Martha Kirby Capo, Houston, TX, USA

Return to top of this page

REDUPLICATION:  Reduplication is the repetition of a word or part of a word, often including a slight change in its pronunciation.  Serious examples of reduplication:  1) flip-flop (movement or sound of repeated flapping) 2) walkie-talkie (battery-powered portable sending and receiving radio) 3) shilly-shally (put off acting, hesitate or waver)

Return to top of this page


The Sestina, a French form, is an intricate form of six unrhymed stanzas of six lines each, followed by a Tercet (three lines.)  This type of form works well for the poet who wants to examine a subject from different viewpoints.  The Sestina depends on the repetition of end-words, but be aware that only the end word repeats, not as in other French forms where the entire line repeats.

Choose any 6 words, such as:

a) sunshine, b) poems, c) sister, d) silk, e) wood, f) flowers

The pattern:
Stanza 1: a, b, c, d, e, f.  Stanza 2: f, a, e, b, d, c.  Sanza 3: c, f, d, a, b, e.  Stanza 4: e, c, b, f, a, d.  Stanza 5: d, e, a, c, f, b.  Stanza 6: b, d, f, e, c, a.  Tercet : ab, cd, ef.


Mid Summer

In a big chair by the light of sunshine,
I am half way into a book of poems,
undisturbed by the busy world of my sister,
who is creating bouquets of straw and silk,
placed in containers carved from wood,
as she hums softly to her working with flowers.

She hasn't always worked with flowers.
For months she searched for the warmth of sunshine,
let the bitter edge of her thoughts carve planks of wood--
to comfort her--as does my book of poems
envelope me, shimmer inside me, like silk.
There aren't enough people in this world like my sister.

A year ago, you would not know my sister.
Of all the things she might choose, the last would be flowers,
standing in the doorway, her hands pulling silk
scarves away from her head in the bare light of sunshine,
her voice falling like the ending of sad poems,
her eyes, unremittingly solid as a block of wood.

But there is something settling in the richness of wood
with a deep sigh of its own, learned by my sister.
Like the metaphor of soothing poems
she found in it, a vessel for flowers,
leaning against the hope of crystal sunshine,
a sheen about her face--pure as silk.

There is something precious and delicate about silk,
working over a rough plank of wood--
her voice humming the melody of sunshine....
I have never seen her so beautiful as today, my sister
in the quiet moment of flowers...
She is the holiness of poems.

She is the commitment expressed in a Book of Poems,
her head wrapped in silk,
her strength, placated by bouquets of flowers,
the fury of her cancer carved in wood--
this ordinary woman of thirty-six, my sister
so young to be called from sunshine.

As the sunshine of spring garden poems
my sister will leave me scarves of silk
the scent of wood, and light crossing bouquets of flowers.

Betty Ann Whitney, Wesley Chapel, FL, USA


SICILIAN QUATRAIN:  a four-line poem written in iambic pentameter, rhyming a-b-a-b.  Note that this form uses a "perfect" rhyme scheme (same three ending letters) rather than a "sound" or "near" rhyme scheme.  See IAMBIC PENTAMETER.



Of what I know, I cherish most of all
The lessons learned of innocence and trust
 From children, those among us young and small
Who need our hands to guide, and so we must.

Craig Tigerman, Moline, IL, USA

Return to top of this page


A sonnet (little sound or song) is a 14 line poem.  This form sets up or develops one thought or idea that pauses in the middle or ends of lines, and concludes within the last two lines of the poem.  Sonnets are often about love and/or philosophy, but can be about any single topic.

Basic Form

The most common form has fourteen lines in two parts - an octave (eight lines) followed by a sestet (six lines.)

The external form is somewhat flexible.  If wished, the octave can be subdivided into two four-line stanzas and the sestet can be divided into one four-line stanza with a couplet (two lines) at the end to conclude the single idea or thought.

Rhyme and Sound

Some sonnets are written in iambic pentameter (five feet or ten syllables to every line, every other syllable accented.)

Shakespeare's rhyme scheme:
abab, cdcd, etet, gg

Wordsworth's rhyme scheme:
Abbaacch, dedeff

The rhyme and sound scheme of some sonnets are similar to those of ballads and popular songs, but the sonnet is not a narrative poem, is usually more complex and condensed, and has no repetition of lines or refrain.  The rhyme and sound scheme of other sonnets are non-existent.  Do not worry about rhyme or meter until you have written many sonnets.

Ending the Poem

Remember, even if a couplet is not used, the last two lines are meant to summarize the intent, concept, subject, theme or thought that is developed throughout the poem.  Finish the sonnet with that in mind.

Have fun with this form.  Read Milton, Spenser, Browning, Wyatt, Auden, Rilke, Millay, Dante, Hopkins, or Dylan Thomas for many fine examples of this complex yet interesting form.

See the "Teachers and Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms" for a further discussion of forms.

Return to top of this page

TANKA: from the Japanese, meaning short poem.  Tanka presents one image or mood in the first two lines, shifting to a related idea in the next three, commonly about sadness, love, the shortness of life, or the seasons.  Unlike the Japanese Haiku, Tanka may use poetical devices such as metaphor and personification.
TRADITIONAL FORM:  The traditional Tanka follows a formula of 31 syllables, in the pattern 5, 7, 5, 7, 7 syllabic lines.

ENGLISH FORM:  Most other languages do not have the same rhythms as Japanese, so to approximate the same rhythm while writing in English, try 13 syllables, in the pattern of 2, 3, 2, 3, 3 syllabic lines.

Return to top of this page



The Tercet is one stanza of three lines of verse that do not all contain the same rhyme.  See TRIPLET.


Subliminal Message

Where the watch synchronizes every thing
setting life to a metronomic rhythm
freedom is lost to the pendulum's swing.

Betty Ann Whitney, Wesley Chapel, FL, USA

Return to top of this page


The Terza Rima, a traditional form of poetry, is a series of Tercets with interlinking rhymes which give a strong effect of continuity with a pattern of aba, bcb, cdc, etc.  An extra line is sometimes used to close the poem.  See TERCET.

Terza Rima


There is no safe tomorrow, only fear
which follows night.  Anticipation waits
behind the sun, beneath the moon.   I hear

the voice of God each time the wind abates -
each time a shadow falls - each time the rain
detains a drowning ghost and dissipates

to nothingness in soft tearstained refrain.
I've been insane. I've been the woman, frail
and wan, with parchment skin.  I've been restrained.

I've traced my name in raindrops on the pale
soft flesh of strangers until God foretold
the danger and the downpour turned to hail.

I've been afraid.  I've watched the storms unfold
around me while my lover's truths grew cold.
I talk to God.   He leaves the lies untold.

Laura Heidy, Highland, IN, USA
Bhauta  © 2002 - Laura Heidy

Return to top of this page

TETRASTICH:  When unrhymed, a quatrain is referred to as a "tetrastich," which means "to walk four."  SEE QUATRAIN.

Return to top of this page

THRENODY:  (noun) from the Greek "threnos," or dirge.  A threnody is a song, poem, elegy, or speech of lamentation for the dead.  "Melody" and "tragedy" are related to "threnody," and "comedy" is related as well.  This definition comes from

Return to top of this page

TRIO:  This form is a stanza made of three lines.  You may rhyme the lines or not, as you wish.  This form calls for as few words as possible, the use of no articles, and no punctuation in the body of the poem.  Be attentive to rhythm, and develop a strong beat that repeats in the first two lines.  This form lends itself well to a DOUBLE (two stanzas of the same form.)

Example of a Double Trio:

Universal Language of Pain

adventuring paws
unnaturally still
leg ebbs life on wood

curious ears twitch
antiseptic smells yips
barks almost matter

Martha Kirby Capo, Houston, TX, USA

Return to top of this page

The Triolet is an eight-line poem, with two rhymes and two repeating lines.  The opening line occurs three times in this form.  The first line is repeated as the fourth and seventh lines, the second and eight lines are the same.  Some minor variations are allowed within the repeating lines, since this may enhance the poetic effect of the triolet.
From Fools to Flowers

This secret April knows but did not tell:
Through love and sun and rain all life is one.
Though evident in garden, field and dell
This secret April knows but would not tell.
Shower-moistened roots slither and swell
Greening fingers grasp at warming sun
This secret April knows but cannot tell:
Through love and sun and rain all life is one.

Craig Tigerman, Moline, IL


Return to top of this page


According to Babette Deutsch, editor of "Poetry Handbook, A Dictionary of Terms," the triplet is three lines based on the same rhyme.

Example of a Triplet:

Portrait of the Mind's Eye

Of his own nimbus moon drawn against night
the artist works layer upon layer of white
Into blackened canvas, blending circles of light.

Betty Ann Whitney, Wesley Chapel, FL

Return to top of this page


A Villanelle is a French poetry form created by Jean Passerate (1534-1602).  In this form there are six stanzas; the first five stanzas are three lines long, and the final stanza is four lines long.  The first line and last line of the first stanza take turns repeating as the final line of the next four stanzas, and then are rejoined as the last two lines of the poem.  The poem has a rhyme scheme of aba throughout, except in the last stanza where there is a slight variation.  The last two lines may be slightly different than their predecessors.


What Is More Inviting?

Love can make a poet stop writing
If at midpoint of a fruitful day
The kiss of love is more inviting.

What compares with love's sighting?
When your partner is ready to play
Love can make a poet stop writing.

The brawlers may stop fighting
If in the middle of the fray
The kiss of love is more inviting.

It is like a candle's lighting:
When passion bids your hand to stay
Love can make a poet stop writing.

What makes dog and cat stop biting
And keeps a truant from running away?
The kiss of love is more inviting.

One kiss may begin all wrongs' righting
Can extinguish even a rumbling Pompeii.
What can make a poet stop writing?
The kiss of love is more inviting.

(C) 2001 Mary Margaret Carlisle


Return to top of this page


This form, named for Leo Waltz, the Web Manager of Sol Magazine, asks for a one-stanza titled poem, with nineteen lines; each line has a set number of syllables.

Pattern:   1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1

Words may be split into syllables to fit the pattern.  This form seems to educe a soothing cadence as the lines gently increase and decrease, so it is suggested that topic chosen for this form also be soothing.

With Wings

the gulls
here from
the Gulf Coast
they do
stay long.
The teeming
coastal waters
call them back
to their
I should
wish for wings.
With wings
could fol-

Mary Margaret Carlisle, Webster, TX

Return to top of this page


This titled syllabic form, created by Betty Ann Whitney, has exactly seven lines.

Syllable Pattern:  3, 4, 3, 4, 3, 4, 7


In the Garden Year

Voted best
Among the months
May and June
Sprout root and grow.
Soon will dance
On wiry stems
A blend of upturned blossoms.

Betty Ann Whitney, Wesley Chapel, FL

Return to top of this page


A Zeugma is a comparison where a word is used twice in a contrary manner to bring up two different connotations, or 2) used once to modify in two different ways.


"He trimmed my hair, then he trimmed my pocketbook."

"On her day off, she caught a butterfly and a man."

© Sol Magazine 1997- 2006