Short Verse Forms 6 – Free Verse

December 2004

Free Verse

Introduction by Conrad DiDiodato

Free verse (from the French vers libre) is really a hybrid of two very different language forms, placed very elegantly somewhere between them: prose and the more traditional tightly-knit poetic structures of, say, elegy, lyric, sonnet and so on. Like prose, free verse enjoys the freedom of unfettered expression, without having to concern itself with obvious rhyme schemes, meter and forms; but unlike prose, and closer to traditional verse, free verse lines are shorter and do, when examined carefully, reveal rhythms peculiar to themselves. Its oftentimes lyrical treatment of themes, and even its own special page formatting, give it a sort of traditional verse feel. Consequently, a free verse poem may have both the look and feel of more traditional poetry but may dare, nonetheless, to strike out forcefully on its own, disclosing its own richesse de langue.

Conrad DiDiodato

pyramids in blue

with pick and trowel, mcadam dug Time,
mcadam dug deep to find the Rhyme,
unearthed by the overhang caked in Lime,

of the Heat that left their mummies here,
and scarabs there, but what produced his fear,
and tear for Life passing the most, was near-

er his heels, closer than Isis above,
in fact; in fact, what urged this man to glove
and turn robber’s palms to scrape and shove

was the stained pale Body, once brushed, of Blue,
a flowered, cuneate, Blue and the new-
fangled, scalloped and garrotted Forms he found too,

airy and boneless! dancing before his Eyes!
what a Lust for Space these double-winged Flies,
what a Lust these habitues of Skies

mcadam’s soft spade set free, jounced alive
and, once in the air, could two soiled thumbs survive,
he asked, riled beyond repair, this pharaoh’s Hive;

could sifted sands tamped down mcadam style,
in fact, nipping more strange idols of the Nile,
kill the Time for this sad cryptophile?

Michael Rehling

Origin of Buddha’s Wisdom

I see the cat
sitting by a
stone Buddha
looking out
(both in
the same direction)
lids partly closed
seeing it all
(through my eyes
and theirs)

as winds weave
through potted plants
(cleansing my
cluttered mind)
I see that the cat
is meowing to
the Buddha
(secret teachings
no doubt)

Jerry Dreesen

Old Wood

In the vacant lot, a pile
of old lumber weathers rain-gray,
covered with sinewed vines
and dead branches.
Chipmunks and a pair of rabbits
live here, a garden snake
with its yellow stripe,
like a length of garden hose.

I can’t help wondering what you
would think of it, if you might
find a poem here: this chipmunk
popping its head up through
the farthest hiding place
waiting for my next move.

Mall Walker

Wearing baseball cap
and old sneakers
leaning into
wishful strides
each step eager
to be younger
than the last.

Shop windows
entice youth
with tight jeans
and tee shirts
on firm breasted

While the passing
of an old man looks
straight ahead
walks past
what was.

Bird Watching and Other One-Act Plays

Cardinals rock
the old schoolhouse feeder,
swing it, flashing red.
A Titmouse flicks sunflower husks
darts to the nearest limb
gorges at fever pitch.
Gangs of white-bellied Juncos
scatter over snow-ground
argue among themselves.
Sparrows bully in, take more
than their share. Chickadees
diversionary- pick and flit.
A Nuthatch rails ’round a tree trunk
for comedy relief, pretends
he doesn’t know which way is up.

Gerry Bravi

Too Near

She came too near.
Her essence
so delightful at a distance,
smudged with proximity
or was it with my fear?
In a blink of contemplation
she was gone.
Once more,
beyond my grasp,
the thought of her
enchanted me.


The nails,
in all their varieties,
finally yield to my crowbar.
Some bent beyond straightening.
numbered by the penny weight,
accept these artifacts
of someone’s dream.
The old timbers squeak
and screech,
even split and splinter,
as they surrender their nails
and carpentered formations.
2 X 4’s neatly stacked here
and 2 X 6’s there.
Each board found meaning somewhere
in a now lost blueprint.
Roof tiles,
chipped and worn,
fill green dumpster bins.
Moldings set aside
in hopes of some future.
Doors, windows, hinges,
an unending list
of nouns, adjectives,
dependent clauses
and other parts of building
off to Habitat for Humanity.
The old homestead,
No semblance of the dreams,
the joys, the wonders
that filled the heads
of the architect,
the builder
of those who spent their hours
constructing a reality
that only they can comprehend.
just bare bones waiting
for someone else’s meaning.

A Discussion of Deconstruction Theory by Conrad DiDiodato:

Mr. Bravi has given the reader a wonderful look into the theory of ‘deconstruction’ in his poem by the same name. But all the formulation in the world can never be nearly as successful in showing the nature of ‘deconstruction’ as this delightful account of the plan, though known only to the architect, and construction of a Habitat for Humanity home. The poet has lent grace and credibility to Jacques Derrida’s celebrated view of language by its application to this wonderful communal project.

As the poem’s concluding lines show, even a finished home can serve ultimately as the “bare bones” for constructing in the future on the basis of perhaps newer, more innovative designs. The old, discarded boards, tiles and frames become the basis on which tomorrow’s dreams for Humanity begin to take shape. And if this popular theory teaches us anything, it is that language, like the implements and materials of the skilled builder, can unfold fabulous possibilities of meaning to the reader (and writer) who is not averse to working tirelessly in “nouns, adjectives,/dependent clauses.”


Adelaide B. Shaw

Francis Farley Fricket

Francis Farley Fricket
a small brown country mouse
lives happily at the golf club;
tis better than a house.

Vast rooms he has to wander,
tall casements he can scale.
So with his whiskers twitching
and a wiggle in his tail

he streaks across the carpet
or slides against the wall,
heading for the kitchen
for tidbits that might fall.

The guests all scream and holler
when he nibbles on their shoes.
“Kill the little varmint;
he’s not paying any dues.”

The management’s not happy,
and the cook is in a flap,
but Francis Farley Fricket
is too smart for any trap.

An honorary member
is how he should be known,
with rights and privileges hereof
and a locker of his own.

So spare his life, Dear Good Friends.
Don’t throw him in a thicket.
He should be the golf club mascot,
our Francis Farley Fricket.

Marie Summers

Standing Still

Anchored silence surges
through my very essence
like phantom chills
caress my limbs
on a foggy night
empty of stars.

With a moss-fringed trunk
and forest-soft leaves,
I embrace the graying wind
upon my hardened skin
like a second-rate lover
among the mighty oaks.

Using my branches
as a stairway to my heart,
the wind whispers secrets
from beyond the haze.
I surrender to a deep desire,
an aching need for answers –

…while standing still within my solitude.

Pieces of You

Sleep came, and we wasted the night
like when we were children.
In the morning I cut your hair,
and shuffled through the unwanted pieces
of you left upon the floor,
remembering a time when only passion
coursed heavily through your veins
.for me.
The gray seems almost acceptable now
with every snip and loss of moments.
Maybe one of these days you let your hair
grow longer like it once was,
and we will make love in the rain.


Stretched beyond
invisible communication,
telegraphed heartbeats
transmit the seeds of passion.

A division in life’s cycle
sprouts roots, growing deeper
into the heart and soul of every being,
connecting us to become one.

We are the blood pulsing
within the twigs, branches,
leaves, flowers, and fruit
of this heavenly force called love.

Blurred Vision

Blurred is the Poet’s vision when grieving –
Penning release, striking out against
the pain raging inside, casting
out the love that once stemmed from
passion’s ink in the night.
Driving poetry
like a prized slave
until limp,
red eyed,
and dream
of lifeless
limits in ink.
Poethood of guilt,
a sentence to be served,
’til the blinded and enraged
can make peace with the opal eye
of passion’s night, and create poems
to heal the heart of the grieving Bard.

Carol Raisfeld

Soul Infusion

“Hold me,” he said,
as he pressed into
my softness. Then,
relaxing into the
beat of my heart,
his memory recorded
the magic, while
my love nourished
the essence of his
beautiful, sweet
three year old soul.


whatever happened
to tinker toys
and erector sets
and little boys —
to magic rings
and boxtop things
and little girls
who knew everything –

Shanna Baldwin Moore

Computer Electric

of my mind
of connection
of cyber color sounds
as the whole
world gets wired
computer electric
a universe of verse
ah! poetry
music of
your mind.
Played on
your heart chords
Singing thru
cables and wires
computer electric

Nnorom Azuonye

Lights and Sounds

I plot the destination of my desire
via the road mountained by resistance
where lessons endure
and friendships fly without perching.
I hang the map on life’s line somewhere
custodian of fortune will see it.

I close my eyes and get there.
Music of ovation deafens me,
proof of every sweatdrop
the back of my arm ever wiped,
calming of every nerve wracked
by far-awayness of fulfillment.

I open my eyes and am still here,
walking the same treadmill
believing the same old mantra;
`he whose arms are uncrossed,
who does not await manna, shall draw
bright lights and sounds tomorrow,
from the well that swells today
with his dreams and his fears.’

But in quieter moments I wonder,
might my true destination be your side?
Is it to explore, think, learn, share, laugh,
and change with you in harmony
with the rising and setting of the sun?
What are these lights and sounds I seek?
I already have your eyes and your laughter.

chibi (dennis Holmes)

Pillows On The Tatami

a flute song
wavers in the winds
of Autumn

she bends

a scent of
green tea on the bowl
she’s fired

little by little
the kettle begins
steam from its spout

the soji parts with
a double shadow
on the unopen side

pillows on the tatami
the sound of one sash
as it drops

Sally Evans

Seen Through Glass

The bench gleams wet as light dims late
after an evening’s work with pots
and rooted things, as though the trowel
had offered a holiday from the pen.

Then hot pink geranium petals
spin into summer twilight where the scales
branched round a nearby conical cedar
spear the darkened sky like a bent nib

stemming my greenhouse grammar. Water flows
indoors, outdoors, thoughtful under treeroots,
linking present to future more than past.
The hawthorn berry swells in the hedge.

A climate and season where words burst banks.
Each morrow opens as white as paper.

Norla M. Antinoro

Antigone’s Child

“How could they do that
to such an innocent child?”
a parent’s cry of despair
asks a question with no answer.

my child is broken now……

“Was I a failure,
left my child unprotected?
I should have been there for her!
I would have saved her if I could.”

i would have saved them all……

Weary, ageless eyes,
wounded, hopeless, and weeping,
a child turns against herself,
she lashes out in fear and rage.

i am just a child………..

Self-inflicted wounds,
lacerations of the soul,
seek to punish fault perceived
bleeding her pain on the floor.

i must deserve it all……

Circle unbroken,
anger, fear, rage, and horror
blame and counter blame compete
re-inflict grievous wounds

it hurts, fear holds me…….

where, oh where lies the answer?


I gave up writing
it all seemed pointless somehow
with the editor gone
so I jotted my poems on little scraps of handmade paper
to toss them out the window into the wind
or give them to the baker to pay for bread
like Emily
but the baker declined
wanted paper of a different kind
and poems are consigned to the green bag
for compost


This entry was posted in Renku, Vol 4-1 December 2004 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Short Verse Forms 6 – Free Verse

  1. qualandar says:

    Reblogged this on All Poetry Magazine.

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