Experimental Poetry Form: inside the box

Today’s experimental poetry form is called inside the box.  The form is based off of layout on the page.

It consists of two main elements: a box and a line within the box.  A poet can decide how the two elements relate to each other.

The box can be any size and should be a rectangle.  The line must only be one line and must fit within the box.  The top line of the box should be read first, the left line second, the right line third, the bottom line fourth, and the inner line fifth.  The lines on the left and right are read from top to bottom.  The other lines are read from left to right

Here is what the form looks like:

********************
*                                        *
*                                        *
*                                        *
*  ****************  *
*                                        *
*                                        *
*                                        *
*                                        *
********************

Here is an example poem to illustrate the form:

There were five days of exercising.
W                                                    A
e                                                     n
i
g                                                     e
h                                                     l
t                                                      l
s                                                     p
–                                                     t
w    Six pounds were gained.     i
e                                                    c
r                                                     a
e                                                    l

l                                                    w
i                                                    a
f                                                    s
t
e                                                  u
d                                                  s
.                                                   e
–                                                  d
–                                                   .
Healthier food was eaten as well.

Poem with an explanation: It sneaks up on you

It sneaks up on you,
you don’t really feel it.

First,
it’s subtle.
Just a slight aberration,
nothing to really note.

Then,
there’s a slight tick,
and all of sudden,
it becomes real.

Still though,
it’s only small,
nothing to be worried about,
not really a concern.

Then though,
it becomes normal.

Five more.

It becomes normal.
Your way of speaking changes.
Your name changes.

Then though,
there are lights.

It’s only a day,
or two,
or maybe a week.

But it’s special.
There are lights.

And so,
flowers,
and birds,
and the smell of smoke.

It adds.

Now ten.

So there’s a panic.

How did this happen?

Really?
Ten?

So you try.
Run around the ellipse.
You do something,
that to a casual observer,
would seem very pointless.

Still though,
it creeps.

You compensate.
Five out,
ten in.

You compensate.
Run now.
Sit later.

It creeps.
Fifteen.

Time passes.
Cycles pass.

One day though,
something changes.

You buy new pants.

The end?

 

 

This poem is about the process of gaining unwanted weight.

The first stanza states an idea about gaining unwanted weight – It sneaks up on you, you don’t really feel it.  For some people who have gained weight, this is true.  It happened slowly.  It was subtle.  The poem describes the process.

The second stanza, talks about gaining the first two pounds.  It talks about seeing it on the scale but not really noticing it.

The third stanza, talks about the point when five pounds are gained.  Five pounds is enough that a person doesn’t think that maybe it’s just an aberration.  Five pounds, as the stanza relates, is real.

The fourth stanza though, says that this five pounds isn’t really something to be concerned about.  It express the idea that “It’s only five pounds.”

The fifth stanza expresses a change in thinking.  The gained weight stops being “gained”.  It simply become weight.  It becomes part of you.  It stops being something extra.

This notion that the five pounds stops being five “extra” pounds is related in the seventh stanza.  It relates the idea that a person starts talking about themselves differently.  Instead of saying, for example, that they weigh 135 lbs.  They now say 140 lbs.  It becomes part of how they reference themselves.  Their identity changes.

The eighth stanza talks about holidays, birthdays, and special events.  It refers to them as “lights”.  It makes reference to them as a time when a person doesn’t watch what they eat.

The ninth stanza minimizes the extra food eaten.  It refers to it as being for only a short time.

The tenth stanza continues this idea.  It sort of expresses the protest, “But it’s a special time.”  It justifies the extra eating.

The eleventh stanza talks about extra holiday eating.  It talks about cakes with flower designs (flowers), turkey (birds), like might be had at Thanksgiving, and the smell of smoke, making reference to cookouts.

The twelfth stanza talks about this extra eating adding up.

The thirteenth stanza says that now ten pounds have been gained.

In fourteenth stanza, this ten pounds causes a panic.

The fifteenth stanza questions how the weight gain happened.

The sixteenth stanza expresses an idea of disbelief.

In the seventeenth stanza, there is the idea of exercising to lose weight.  It talks about running on an elliptical machine (Run around the ellipse) and lifting weights (something, that to a casual observer, would seem very pointless – this references the idea that a person lifting weights moves lots of weight, but without an observable result – they aren’t loading a truck or something.  They are just picking heavy weights up and putting them back down.  Nothing seems accomplished.)

The eighteenth stanza says that this is not enough.

The nineteenth stanza talks about a person compensating for the exercise.  The person loses calories by exercising (Five out), but they eat more because the exercise makes them hungry and because they think they can eat more because they exercised (ten in).

The twentieth stanza extends this idea.  It says that a person compensates for exercise by being more sedentary at other times.

The twenty first stanza talks about the weight gain rising to fifteen pounds.

The twenty second stanza talks about the cycle described above continuing as a person gains more weight.

In the twenty third stanza, something changes.

The twenty fourth stanza says what this change is – You buy new pants.  The idea here is to express the notion that the weight gain has been fully accepted.  It is something that is permanent.  You buy new pants.

The twenty fifth stanza asks a question – is this acceptance the end?  Is the weight gain really permanent?  Is this new weight the new norm?

The poem doesn’t answer the question.  It leaves it open ended.

The idea of this poem is to express the process were a person gains unwanted weight.  It isn’t meant to criticize a person who goes through this process, rather it just describes the process.  The poem isn’t meant to ask, as the narration in part of the poem does, “How did this happen?”, but it rather simply describes how it can happen.  The idea is to shine a light on something that is often unnoticed as it happens.  The idea is to make something subtle for a person, be less so.

Poem with an explanation: know the truth that it is day

twenty past three
and it was getting late
the force of the wind
was blowing strong

in the night
the monsters roamed
and in the light
the drums did beat

and so in the day
the steps were taken
to the woods
and back again

and days and days
did move on by
and by the fields
the hills were climbed

and then one day
it was two

and birds did sing
and butterflies flew
and flowers bloomed
beneath the sun

but in the caves
the ogres watched
and said their words
of vileness

and rain did fall
on butterflies
and clouds did cover
all the fields

but listen you
who walk the paths
the words of ogres
are not the end

walk the fields
and climb the hills
and look beyond
toward the sun

know the truth
that it is day

 

This poem is about a person losing weight, but rather than their accomplishment being applauded, they are looked down upon.

In the poem, a person starts off weighing 320 lbs.  This is referenced as a time (twenty past three).  The time reference is continued with the idea of getting late.  This refers to the idea that the person’s health is poor, and if steps aren’t taken, they might not live as long as they could.

The person finds themselves short of breath.  This feeling makes them worry.  This is related in the lines the force of the wind/was blowing strong.  The word force also relates to the fact that weight is a measure of force.

The person has this experience and it keeps them up at night (in the night/the monsters roamed).  They are worried that because of their weight, they might die.  The next day (and in the light) they are so worried that they can feel their heart beating inside of themselves (the drums did beat).

The person decides to make a change (and so in the day/the steps were taken).  The person starts walking (the steps were taken).  In the beginning, they can’t go very far and simply walk from one door of their house to another (to the woods/and back again).

The person keeps walking (and days and days/did move on by).  As they do, they find they are able to go farther and they leave their house (and by the fields/the hills were climbed).

The person keeps walking, and then one day, they fall below three hundred pounds (it was two).  It was two ties back into the idea of time from before.

The person is very happy (and birds did sing/and butterflies flew/and flowers bloomed/beneath the sun).

This happiness though isn’t shared by others.  The family of the person puts down their accomplishment.  They say the person is still overweight.  They say that being less than three hundred pounds isn’t an accomplishment.  They say the person hasn’t done anything.  They criticize the person and call them names (but in the caves/the ogres watched/and said their words/of vileness).

The person is saddened by this (and rain did fall/on butterflies/and clouds did cover/all the fields).

In the poem though, someone else speaks.  They talk to the person (but listen you/who walk the paths).  They tell the person that the words of their family aren’t what is important (the words of ogres/are not the end).

They encourage the person to keep on working (walk the fields/and climb the hills).  They tell them to look past the negative comments (and look beyond) and see the accomplishment they have made and where they are going (toward the sun).

They tell the person that the words of their family are lies (know the truth), and that the reality is they have done an amazing thing (that it is day).

This poem relates to something that happens in life.  A person can accomplish something that makes them feel good, but if that accomplish doesn’t meet the expectations of others, the person might be criticized for achieving so little in the eyes of others.  The poem express the idea that this is wrong and that people should feel good about their accomplishments, even if they have more to do.

Experimental Poetry Form: here’s a tip

This experimental poetry form is based off of the poem: here’s a tip.  The idea was to start with a form that was written naturally, and modify it to have more form elements.

The original poem had five lines.  The first four lines were separated with one blank line between each of them and the fifth line had two blank lines between it and the fourth line.  The lines had the following syllable counts: six, ten, nine, three, and four.  There was no rhyming.  There was no meter.

To modify the original form, the basic structure was kept: four lines with a blank line between each of them and a fifth line with two blank lines setting it apart.  It looks as follows

*

*

*

*
 
 
*

Secondly, the syllable count was modified to have more of a pattern.  The original counts were: 6, 10, 9, 3, and 4.  This was modified to: 6, 10, 10, 4, and 4.

Third, rhyme was added.  The two ten syllable lines rhyme and the two four syllable lines rhyme.

Fourth, iambic meter was added to the lines.

The end result is a form that looks as follows:

*/*/*/

*/*/*/*/*/  A

*/*/*/*/*/  A

*/*/*/*/  B
 
 
*/*/*/*/  B

The *s represent short syllables, the /s represent long syllables, and the letters show the rhyming pairs.

The idea of this form is to see how a naturally written form can be transformed into a more structured form and what that results in.

Here is an example poem written in the form:

to see the dial turn

and mark the weight of all the days before

when all did see but then did little more

the eyes do close
 
 
from weight of woes

Poetry topic idea: dieting

Today’s poetry topic idea is dieting.  A poet could write about:

  • Different types of diets.
  •  

  • What it’s like to be on a diet.
  •  

  • Hunger during a diet.
  •  

  • Food cravings during a diet.
  •  

  • Different meals during a diet.
  •  

  • Reasons for dieting.
  •  

  • Breaking a diet.
  •  

  • Health during a diet.

 

Here’s a poem using the idea of dieting:

Five days,
fruits,
vegetables,
whole grains,
legumes,
and water –

gained two pounds.

Poem with an explanation: the cow calls out

In the nearness,
the seed is planted.

tiny

Far away,
the cow calls out.

The spider weaves,
a single strand.

The pulling begins.

Friction starts.

Back and forth
the waves roll.

Walking and running.

Walking and running.

The cow calls out.

The lawyer speaks,
and pleads the case.

The defendant speaks,
and says the truth.

Walking and running.

Walking and running.

The cow calls out.

The jury decides.

The cow is met.

 

In the sand,
there are tears.

 

This poem is about a person struggling with a temptation.  In this case, the temptation is ice cream.  While the subject here is light, the general ideas apply to a person struggling with any temptation.

The person in the poem is trying to watch their weight, but they also want to eat ice cream.  This creates a tension in the person and a battle of their will against the temptation.

In the first stanza of the poem (In the nearness, the seed is planted) the person gets the idea to eat ice cream.  The idea comes in a small way (tiny).  The person has a thought, completely unrelated to ice cream.  This thought though leads to another thought and then another.  This then leads them to thinking about ice cream (Far away, the cow calls out).

Once the person starts thinking about ice cream the connection of temptation starts (The spider weaves, a single strand).  It begins to pull on the person (The pulling begins).

The person resists (Friction starts).  They struggle with their want to eat ice cream and their want to watch their weight (Back and forth/ the waves roll).

The person starts to give in (Walking) but then resists (running).  They struggle and do this again (Walking and running).

They feel the temptation to eat the ice cream (The cow calls out).  They then start to rationalize eating ice cream (The lawyer speaks, and pleads the case).

The person knows this rational is wrong (The defendant speaks, and says the truth).

The person then physically struggles with the temptation.  They walk toward the freezer and away.  They do this twice. (Walking and running.  Walking and running.)

The temptation comes again (The cow calls out.)

The person loses the battle against the temptation (The jury decides).  They go and eat ice cream (The cow is met).

After some time passes (In the sand), the person regrets giving in (there are tears).

This poem explores the idea of a person struggling with a temptation.  It goes through the battle the person has from the start of the temptation to when the person feels remorse for giving in.  Although the idea presented here had to do with ice cream and eating, the basic notion could apply to any temptation.

The poem was written in a very metaphorical way.  The idea was to express the thought with imagery.

Experimental Poetry Form: prime rhyme

This experimental poetry form has one stanza with ten lines.  The prime numbered lines (2, 3, 5, and 7) rhyme.  The form has no other requirements.

Here is an example poem written in the form:

Hello scientifically determined ideal weight.
It’s very nice to meet you.
Well, that’s not exactly true.
You see, you’re not really here.
Now that may have come from out of the blue,
but trust that it’s actually the truth,
and it isn’t really something new.
The thing is, you never really existed.
Somebody just sort of made you up.
Yeah, this is awkward.

Poem with an explanation: building castles

building castles
not knowing
they are made of sand

 

This poem is about doing something without the realization that it will be undone.  This idea could apply to many situations.  As an example, imagine someone starts a business.  They spend a great deal of effort setting it up.  They make it exactly how they want.  In a year though, the business the fails.  The person thought they were building something that would last.  Instead, they built something that disappeared.

This particular poem was based off of the idea of weight loss.  Sometimes when a person loses weight, they keep it off for a while, but they gain it back.  When the person lost the weight they thought it was permanent.  Instead, things went back to the way they were.  This idea was represented symbolically by the idea of person building what they thought was a stone castle, but it turned out to be a sand castle.  A sand castle is a temporary structure that will quickly disappear.

The idea of the poem is to contrast the idea of perceived permanence, with the reality of temporariness.