Mar 29, 2023

Whitney Verse Form

If you like the Japanese forms with their lack of rhyme and strict syllable counts, you’ll love the Whitney. This form was created by Betty Ann Whitney, an American poet, writer, and visual artist living in Florida.

The Whitney is a single stanza of seven lines with 28 syllables in total – 3, 4, 3, 4, 3, 4, 7.



And that’s pretty much all there is to it. There’s no mention of a theme, no constraints on subject matter, and there’s no rhyme involved. At first I thought this form is simple enough that even the most timid of novice poets can master it with ease. But when I went to write my example it took a little more thought than I expected. However, once I got the hang of it, it was kind of hard to stop.

Sun setting
start to drop
the wind dying
night falling
the moon rises
the stars begin to appear

mist rising
foghorn sounding
a lonely
distant echo
of times past
when ships would sail
sans benefit of radar

one day you
will look behind
and all that
you will see is
regret and
broken pledges
act now, while there is still time

Mar 27, 2023

Spring Is Coming!

It’s a spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want to—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!
— Mark Twain

I glanced out the window at the signs of spring. The sky was almost blue, the trees were almost budding, the sun was almost bright.
— Millard Kaufman

It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.
― John Galsworthy

Fall may be my favourite time of year, but I can’t tell you how much I’ve been looking forward to spring. Okay, so maybe it’s early yet, we’re only into it by a week, but I am so done with snow and cold and winter!

And it’s true we’ve had an excess of grey days lately, but the daytime temperatures have been above freezing and Saturday it rained enough to put a big dint in the remaining dirty, gritty snow. Even the mountains of snow in the parking lots have been reduced to molehills.

And sure, the long range forecast is calling for more grey days than sun, and the occasional snow flurry, but that can’t last forever, right? The days are going to get steadily longer, and sooner or later the sun is going to shine for more than a couple of hours at a time.

My thoughts are already turning to what I want to plant in my vegetable garden this year, and what bedding plants I want for the front. I’ll probably go with the impatiens again because they’re so low maintenance. You basically just plant them and then all you have to do is water them and they’ll bloom all summer long.

I used seed tape for my lettuce last year, and had great success with it. This year I got tape for the lettuce again, as well as spinach, carrots, and something else that I can’t remember. If I can find it, I’d like to get one for beets as well. And I’ve also figured out a new configuration for my garden too.

It’s only a matter of time before spring will truly have sprung and the trees will start getting buds on them, the flowers will start pushing up in the gardens, and boom! Everything will be green again. Instead of complaining about the cold and the damp, we’ll be complaining about the heat and humidity.

I can’t wait!

Mar 22, 2023

Echo Verse Poem

As might be inferred from its name, the Echo verse repeats the sound at the end of each line in the imitation of an echo. It was popular in the 16th and 17th centuries in Italy, France, and England, usually in pastoral poetry or drama.

There is no set rhyme scheme, meter, or length to the Echo poem. The echo can be the same word or a homophone (a word that has the same sound but a different meaning and spelling, like two, too, and to, or there, their, and they’re).

There are a couple of different ways to write an echo verse.

The echo can be on the same line:
This wasn’t meant to be, be
There is no need to plea, plea
It’s all the same to me, me
But I drank up all the tea, tea

It can be given a line of its own:
The melting snow
Is good to see
Spring is here
Without a doubt

Or you can write it so the echo compliments, or continues the previous line:
I walked along the aisle, isle
To see what there should be, bee
And stopped beside the dam, damn
I couldn’t really hear, here

Even though it was the hardest of the three, I kind of liked the one using the homophone, it seemed like more of a poem. Leave it to me to wait until late at night and the choose the hardest of the three examples. :-D

The tome I held had weight, wait
I read this book last week, weak
With the end of mourning, morning
That shone with the sun, son
That was so sweet, suite
a symphony of peace, piece
That pierces the soul, sole
That makes me whole, hole
Left by a knot, not.

Mar 20, 2023

Home Again, Home Again

Maybe that’s the best part of going away for a vacation — coming home again
— Madeleine L’Engle

There is a magic in that little world, home; it is a mystic circle that surrounds comforts and virtues never known beyond its hallowed limits.
— Robert Southey

The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back.
— Wendy Wunder

I just got back from a writer’s retreat, which is one of the reasons this post is late. It was four days, with twelve workshops, being held at the Delta Marriott in Kingston. If you registered early enough, you got a discount rate on a hotel room of the Delta, which I did.

Last time I was in Kingston it was for the Writersfest, which was held in the Holiday Inn. Same deal, if you registered early enough, you got a discounted room at the Holiday Inn, only that time I didn’t, and the only room I could find was at the Delta – for the full price.

I have to say, that discount makes a BIG difference. I paid less for the entire package – retreat cost, hotel bill (including two meals I had charged to my room), and parking this time than I did for just the hotel bill last time. So you can be sure, when I sign up for this year’s Writersfest, I will do so in time to get the discount rate for the Holiday Inn. :-D

The picture above, which is courtesy of Pixabay, is pretty much the exact view outside my hotel room window, except without the boats and the water inside the harbor was covered with a sheet of ice that was just starting to break up.

Anyway, like the fall event, this one did not get off to a great start. Once again, I thought that since I get up super early anyway, I could easily drive up on the morning of the first day. Once again, I was wrong. I might have made it on time, had I taken into consideration the abundance of trucks on the highway, trucks who seemed to like to play leap frog with each other, thus slowly traffic right down as they jockeyed for position.

So I was already running late when I got to Kingston, where my infallible sense of direction failed me and I turned right when I should had turned left and ended up almost back up to the highway. By the time I got to the hotel, the first workshop was half over, so I just parked my car and wandered up to my favorite coffee shop (the one with the amaze-balls almond croissants). The hotel was nice enough to let me check in early, so I was able to stash my stuff before heading up to the first workshop (for me) of the day.

The bad stuff about the retreat:
I was late and missed the workshop for writing memoirs.
The weather was really cold and crappy, so I didn’t get out and do much walking, like I’d intended to. In fact, I didn’t get out much at all.
The hotel restaurant was a little pricy, with a limited menu.
I had some kind of digestive issue going on, so I wasn’t feeling all that great.

The good stuff about the retreat:
I got a premium parking place right outside the hotel doors.
Everything was right at the hotel so I didn’t have to leave, like on Saint Patrick’s Day when it was pouring rain.
It was nice having a room to go to between workshops.
They had as much tea or coffee as you like at the workshops, and the oatmeal raisin cookies were still warm!

Between the weather and not feeling so great, it really took the shine off my stay. But I learned a lot and I met some really nice people, several of whom want to stay in touch.

I can’t wait for the fall Writersfest!

Mar 14, 2023

Piku Poetry Form

There’s a very good reason my poetry post is a day early this week, it’s to introduce you to the Piku (pronounced pie-koo).

This form was sent to my poetry group by one of the members, James, last year on Pi Day – March 14 (which I’ve also heard called geek Thanksgiving). It’s not just a diminutive form of the Haiku, it’s a form all its own.

A Haiku is written in three lines with a syllable count of 5-7-5. A Piku is also written in three lines, but has a syllable count of 3-1-4. Three one four – get it? The first three numbers of Pi.

Now apparently there are three classifications for a Piku:

1. The poem follows the structure, but in nerdy or geeky in content.
2. Any poem meeting the basic structure.
3. Meets the basic structure, is nerdy or geeky in content, mentions science or technology.

It’s so simple it almost doesn’t need a schematic, but here’s one anyway:


They’re so short and fun that I couldn’t resist doing an example of all three:

Watch Star Trek
Star Wars? Choices!

Chirping birds
the morning sun.

Math is lost
space/time for me.

I invite you to celebrate Pi Day by writing a Piku (or two, or three) of your own. Bet you can’t stop at just one!

Mar 13, 2023

Sentimental Journey

They say not to look back, but if you’re not sure what lies ahead, what else is there but looking back?
― Laurell K. Hamilton

Looking back through life, you will find the pleasure of achieving your dreams is always greater than the pain you met while achieving them.
― Moffat Machingura

The years go by. The time, it does fly. Every single second is a moment in time that passes. And it seems like nothing–but when you’re looking back… well, it amounts to everything
— Ray Bradbury

For Christmas, one of the things I shared with my sisters was a series of home movies made when we were kids that I’d had converted to DVD format. I wish I’d done it years ago, because they were pretty degraded in quality.

Still, it was kind of fun to take that walk down memory lane with what the company that did the conversion was able to salvage. And now I can take that sentimental journey any time I’m feeling nostalgic without having to worry about further corrupting those old, Super 8 film reels.

But a couple of weeks ago I took a sentimental journey of another kind. I can’t remember exactly what prompted it, other than a big attack of writerly angst, but I started going back over some of my early blog posts. I was curious to see what, if anything, had changed in the last 15 years.

While naturally a lot has changed in that time, I was more focused on my blog posting. What I discovered was that in the beginning my posts were shorter but more frequent, and I had no structure as to what and when I was posting.

But then I went down this dark rabbit hole when I realized how little other things had changed. It was a little depressing really, and I sure don’t need any help in that department.

When things aren’t going well, sometimes it can be really hard not to dwell in the past, but I have to agree with Henry Ward Beecher, who said: Too much looking backward… is bad for progress.

How about you, do you often take a sentimental journey? And do you enjoy the trip?

Mar 8, 2023

The Magic Nine

This is a relatively new form, attributed to Divena Collins. It’s a nine-line poem and doesn’t have many rules, other than you need to follow a strict rhyme scheme. There is no set line length, syllable count, or meter. There is no particular subject matter required.

Rumour has it that the rhyme scheme came about when someone rushed the spelling of the word ‘Abracadabra’ and left out the r’s. This gives it a rhyme scheme of a-b-a-c-a-d-a-b-a.

As you can see, lines 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 rhyme with each other, lines 2 and 8 rhyme, and lines 4 and 6 are stand alone. This is what makes this poem tricky, because the ‘a’ rhyme is used so many times, so you have to choose that first end word carefully.

Using the random number six for a syllable count, here’s a schematic:


I had a hard time getting a rhythm going, thanks to the strange rhyme scheme. And I found it interesting that the ‘a’ rhyme lines were just naturally longer than the others, just like most of the examples I read by other poets.

Don’t stare into the sun too long,
my mother used to say,
your eyes won’t like the light so strong –
think of the damage to them.
I wonder, was my mother wrong
to give me this advice?
And still, I always played along
even to this day.
My mother’s advice lives lifelong.

Mar 1, 2023

Kouta Poetry Form

Traditionally, this Japanese form was a song of the geisha. The name kouta means “little song.”

There are two accepted variations of the Kouta. Version one is a quatrain (four lines) with a syllable count of 7-5-7-5, and version two, also a quatrain, has a syllable count of 7-7-7-5.


Variation One
x x x x x x x
x x x x x
x x x x x x x
x x x x

Variation Two
x x x x x x x
x x x x x x x
x x x x x x x
x x x x x

As with most Japanese poetry, it has no rhyme scheme or meter, nor does it require a seasonal reference. Though associated with geishas and love songs, the Kouta does not need to be romantic. It commonly celebrates the ordinary life, referencing mundane or personal, everyday topics.

Although it is a stand alone poem, it can also appear with other Kouta with the same theme. But each individual verse should be independent – it should not just pick up where the previous verse left off, expanding on the verse before it.

For my examples I did the first and last one in the first variation, and the second one in the second variation. As you’ll see, you can read them in whatever order you like.

Snow has begun to recede
the wind blowing warm
with a breath filling us with

Breathing in sun laden air
my thoughts turning towards spring
I watch melting snow sink back
into thirsty ground

The snow is melting away
leaving mud patches
behind – such a beautiful
sign of pending spring.