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Posts tagged ‘Poetic forms’

Mary’s Villanelle: Dark Days

I love the Villanelle. It’s very musical, with the rhyme and rhythm, and the repeating lines. When done right, it really rolls off the tongue when read aloud. My first two Villanelles are not in classic form with iambic pentameter. That added an additional challenge this time around. I also went a little darker than the previous Muselings… My mind has been on The Secret World, a modern day MMO of myths, legends, and conspiracies. So that is where I took my inspiration.


wendigo_C2 (Photo credit: doctorserone)

Dark Days 

She grips her sword, the battlefield looks stark,
almost too late to set the world aright;
Hold ground, dig deep, the days are getting dark.

A flock of ravens flies through the themepark,
abandoned structures gleaming in moonlight.
She grips her sword, the battlefield looks stark.

Filth clinging like a permanent birthmark,
wendigo crouches just within their sight–
hold ground, dig deep, the days are getting dark.

Her two companions circle like a shark–
once enemies, they now combine their might–
she grips her sword, the battlefield looks stark.

The monster takes first blood: claws tears a mark
through one man’s side, his face goes deathly white.
Hold ground, dig deep, the days are getting dark.

Wendigo falters at a shotgun’s bark
and blade moves in to finish off the fight.
She grips her sword, the battlefield looks stark;
Hold ground, dig deep, the days are getting dark.

mary-sig2 (1)


Focus on Form: Aragman

Welcome to Focus on Form. For the next three weeks, each of us Muselings will be writing a poem in the same form and sharing it here on the blog. 


Aragman (pronounced “a rag man”) is a fairly new form, created by Sal Buttaci in 2005. All poetry forms have to start somewhere! I’m not sure where I first heard about this style, but the notes for it have been sitting in my poetry folder for years now. I figured this would be an ideal time to pull it out and try something new.


The poem consists of six-line stanzas, ending with a stand alone line.

The concept centers around anagrams (“aragman” is, in fact, an anagram of “anagram”). Here are the rules, as set by Buttaci:

  1. First of all, begin with a word or two, perhaps your first name or first and last name. Settle on a word or two with not too many letters.
  2.  After you settle on a word, go to the internet site
  3. Type in your word and click on “Get Anagrams.” Instantly, you will be provided with all the words that use the letters of your chosen word.
  4. Copy/paste all the words that are derived from your chosen word and carry it over to your Microsoft Word screen, give the file a name, and save it.
  5. Now take a look at each of the anagrams and decide on a few for your aragman. You will need three for each six-line stanza. From the list select those anagrams that can be woven into your poem.
  6. In each stanza, odd-numbered lines 1, 3, and 5 are different anagrams from your list. If it’s possible, restrict each anagram on these lines to the same number of syllables. Make these anagram lines darker than the others. Even-numbered lines 2, 4, and 6 are completions of corresponding anagram lines 1, 3, and 5. If possible, let these completion lines also conform to the same number of syllables.
  7. The poem’s last line stands alone, after the stanzas, and it is one more anagram line.

The trick for this is finding a good phrase or word that will produce enough workable anagrams. Have fun trying different word combinations until you find something you like.


Here are a few stanzas from Buttaci’s original poem, based off his first name:


A slaver to
the labor of wordplay
A travel so
vicariously thrilling
A vast lore
from which to dabble

Altas over
a hefting of strong words
A rave slot
machine to pull down poems
Area volts
zapped in poetic lines

Tear salvo
from the broken-hearted
Tears oval
and wet flow down faces
Alas, voter!
it’s time to add your name to

Art as love 

© 2005 Salvatore Buttaci

And here is my own poem. For my first attempt, I decided to make a tribute to this group:


Mingles us
in lingering chats
Less in mug
as we drink, think
In sums gel
the words we play

Lines smug
from much revision
Single sum
we come together
Smile sung
our words do ring

El Musings

Your Turn

Now I open it up to you. I welcome any feedback on my poem, as long as it is constructive and not destructive. Let’s help each other improve.

I’d love to see your own attempts at the form as well. You can post them in the comments here, on future posts, or link to your poem if it’s on a separate site. I hope you have fun with the Aragman.

Poetic Forms: Sestina

Arnaut Daniel.

Image via Wikipedia

The sestina is a poetic form attributed to twelfth century French troubadour Arnaut Daniel. It consists of six six-line stanzas and a three line envoy. The six end words of the first stanza cycle in a pattern thusly:


and an envoy whose form varies somewhat, but which uses all six end words:




How to choose your end words

There are doubtless many ways to choose ones end words One is to write the first stanza and then lay out the pattern for the rest. The other, the one I use, is to pick six words, generate the skeleton, and start writing. I try to choose words with more than one meaning and that can be used as more than one part of speech.

Here is a link to a sestina generator: Feed it your six words and it spits out a skeleton with the six stanzas and envoy:

Here is a link to sestina by Ezra Pound:


Here are the first two stanzas;


Damn it all! all this our South stinks peace.
You whoreson dog, Papiols, come! Let’s to music!
I have no life save when the swords clash.
But ah! when I see the standards gold, vair, purple, opposing
And the broad fields beneath them turn crimson,
Then howl I my heart nigh mad with rejoicing.


In hot summer have I great rejoicing
When the tempests kill the earth’s foul peace,
And the lightnings from black heav’n flash crimson,
And the fierce thunders roar me their music
And the winds shriek through the clouds mad, opposing,
And through all the riven skies God’s swords clash.

Here is one of mine:


Workers, you are choked by the collar
of convention. Will you spare
yourselves? Will you ever tire
of the endless round of days, brave
the waters of controversy and refuse to play it safe?
Will you strike a blow

for self expression? Will you blow
down the artificial walls your white collar
has erected around you? Will you leave the safe
space you create in the spare
confines of your tiny cubicle? As you brave
each new day, do you ever tire

of the endless wheel of useless make work? The tire
of useless flesh grows round your middle. You puff and blow
climbing a single flight of stairs. How brave
are you? As you lounge, idle, the shirt collar
around your neck grows ever tighter, until there is no spare
room, and you choke. When will it be safe

to throw your old shirt away? What will jolt you from your safe
little life? What would be enough to make you tire
of the endless round of dailyness? Spare
yourself and live, not merely exist. Blow
the clouds from your eyes. White collar
workers, unite. Take a chance. Be brave.

Allow yourselves to brave
unknown waters, to give up your safe
small space, to throw away your collar
and try the new. Rise from your chairs. Retire
from the rat race. Overturn your desk. Blow
your boss’s mind and run from your office. Spare

yourselves. You have no spare
life. You have one chance to be brave.
You will never get another chance to blow
away the small, safe
walls around you before you tire
and are choked by your white collar.

You cannot spare yourself and stay safe.
Let yourself be brave. Throw away the tire
of convention. Strike a blow for life. Throw out your white collar.

Margaret Fieland



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