Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I have been playing with a new poetic form recently. This was created by Luke Prater at his blog Wordsalad, which I don't seem to be able to link here. Anyway, note the first word in the form name is 'stress' that's fitting in more ways than one. I found it very challenging, but ultimately worth it, if for no other reason that being part of the 'checkered sisterhood.' So, below are the parameters for the form, and below that is my poem. Hope you enjoy :o)

Stress Matrix Dectet/Stress Checkerboard Stanza -

10 lines, 10 syllables per line: a-B-a | B-c-B-c | D-c-D
where lowercase are iambic pentameter and uppercase are trochaic pentameter – they alternate the whole way, giving a perfect ‘checkerboard’ of stressed and unstressed syllables, ten lines down x ten syllables across (=100 syllables completely evenly distributed and the rhyme scheme also utterly even/symmetrical mathematically).

Our cotton sheet is flapping on the line;
breezes pull and finally blow through it,
a square of white: the flagged surrender sign.

Every evening, though you try to do it
I cannot really say our love life thrives.
Simultaneously we cry, ‘Oh screw it!’
Through this near miss no nuptial bliss derives.

Wind is hurried, blowing without caring
through tangled, twisted fabric of our lives,
love and dirty laundry without sparing.


  1. Wow...that looks hard to do. Well beyond my skill level, but the results are great. This is a playful piece and it made me smile. Good work. Vb

  2. Thank you VB. It was difficult for me, and turned out much different than I intended when I started! But that's part of the fun of writing, don't you think? Glad you liked it, and glad you stopped by. :o)

  3. you are a gifted writer...i really like your poem...the line "through this near miss no nuptial bliss derives"...what a great line as the wording fits together and the rhyming flows...more importantly what you're expressing in the poem about a relationship gone awry..."love and dirty laundry without sparing"...your imagery and analogies...simply wonderful...great writing!!!

  4. Love the picture of sheets blowing in the wind! You so aptly describe parts of our lives in this beautifully crafted poem(blowing without caring through tangled, twisted fabric of our lives.) I couldn't tell though just how many sheets there it three sheets to the wind? Sorry, I could not resist...You have done a wonderful job with met the challenge!

  5. Janice - thanks so much, that's one of my favorite lines as well. :o)

    Tolbert - Thank you. Hahaha - yes 3 sheets, very good!

  6. This looks like it's almost as hard as a sonnet. Interesting metaphor at play.

  7. I found it even harder than a sonnet, becuase you have to switch the syllable pattern every line. My brain is apparently more iambic than trochaic, lol.

  8. Wow that must have been a tad rough
    Would leave me in a huff
    I'll stick with the easy stuff
    Or rhyme every word when I've had enough
    But very well done
    The read was fun
    Yes I know how you never know where they will go
    As one can tell by a rant or two from me don't you

  9. Mary,I have been seeing a number of folks working on this form lately (and many stressing over them)beyond my level at this time but I commend you for this. Very nicely done.

  10. When marriage bliss is not, at least you can always find joy in the smell of sheets fresh off the line.

    Never heard of this 10-10form, but you did good!!

    And you certaily lived up to the E.B. White quote in your sidebar..."Writing is both mask and unveiling." A lot you said, but much mystery remaining.

  11. He he...what a brillant poem...a little black comedy of our lives...really like it!
    It works so well that I say you've got this form down pat.:)

  12. mmm...some very nice metaphor and great form...your visuals are gripping the surrender flag, nice...

  13. I can't even imagine the delicious torture--way beyond sonnets--it would be to write that form--it is a tribute to Luke's devious mind, and this piece to your skill, that you've made your words sound unforced and even whimsical here in that tight metric. I am tipping my hat and bowing to you both.

  14. well done for struggling and mastering the intriguing form - I fear I am far too lazy to try things like this.

    I wonder if the task of managing the syllables occupies the poetic censor as it were, so that you have access to words/ideas that you wouldn't have if you weren't so busy with form?

    I liked your poem very much

  15. Pat - thanks! I think
    stuff like this could drive me to drink!

    Charlie - Don't sell yourself short, and thank you.

    Pandamonioumcat - thanks, glad you enjoyed it.

    Brian - thank you

    Hedgewitch - thank you. I agree you about Luke, and your description of the writing process. :o)

    Isabel - lol, thanks. I have wondered about what happens with the process of writing strict form poetry too. It's a much different experience than free verse, though both are a challenge for me to do well.

  16. Oh wow! What an ending to the verse, Mary! Winds ripping through dirty laundry and love.. I could somewhat relate! :P

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