Archives for posts with tag: poetic forms

Sprinklers Underground
by Tina Hacker

hacker 4
Previously published in The Fib Review (June 20).

Photo by kim giseok on Unsplash

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is a Fibonacci poem, a form that gives me a sense of freedom. The pattern of words opens up a world of ideas that both follow the word count and work as a poem.

Hacker pic

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tina Hacker is happy to announce that 33 golems have joined the literary community in her book titled GOLEMS, released by Kelsay Books in June 2021. Hacker’s poems about these magical creatures from Jewish folklore were first published and, because of their popularity, then serialized in the online journal Quantum Fairy Tales. Her work has appeared in numerous print and online journals and anthologies. And a golem added that her other poetry collections are Listening to Night Whistles (Aldrich Press) and Cutting It (The Lives You Touch Publications). GOLEMS is available on Amazon.

jj six copy
How to Write a Sestina
by Vince Gotera

—with all mad props
to James Merrill’s
sestina “Tomorrows”


Tom Disch says to use the first six
words that come to mind. Well, that’s one
way to do it. But there must be five
hundred other ways. Hmm. Too
easy, you think? The way I got “five”? For
Pete’s sake, you say, why not “tree”

instead of “three”? Well, why not “tree”?
I say in return. Or maybe “sex”
Instead of “six”? Sorry . . . “tree” and “sex” for
“three” and “six” might be one
cheap and cheesy way to get two
words in, but it works! Then there’s “high five”

and “low five”—
sticking on one, two, three
other words to get a different expression, to
make the end words flex. And there’s six
of those end words, too. And only one
of me. Surrounded. Well, okay, before

I go crazy, I remind myself, you’ve got four
stanzas done. Hang in there, you’ll get through five.
You could use another language: say “uno”
Instead of “one.” Then “trois”
instead of . . . well, you know. Jeez, there must be a hex
at play here. An anti-poetry spell. But, hey, only two

stanzas left now. Just two.
Yikes . . . there might as well be a hundred, for
all “just two” is gonna get me. How can I get to six
stanzas? Think. Imagine. Let’s see, there’s a five-
headed dog in the road . . . oh, you wanted “three”
there, didn’t you? Cerberus. Well, one

should be “creative,” right? Stretch the mind. One needs to
discover new tactics. Bring on a fife and drum corps. Six
rhinoceroses. Three French hens. Otherwise, what’s a sestina for?

Originally published in Raven Chronicles, October 2015

IMAGE: Figure 6 by Jasper Johns (mixed media, 1960s).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In my Elements of Creative Writing class, I assign the students to write either a sonnet or a sestina. While many are familiar with the sonnet, few know the sestina, so I wrote this as a teaching device: it readily shows how the end-words (or teleutons) tumble as well as how to alter them via sound play. A tough challenge in the sestina is that the last end-word in a stanza must be said right away in the next stanza; I particularly relish my “high five” followed by “low five.” I try to teach the students that sestinas can be fun! After I wrote this, I discovered that James Merrill had done a 1-2-3-4-5-6 sestina as well, so I give the master a shout-out in an epigraph. Okay, now you try writing a sestina!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vince Gotera teaches at the University of Northern Iowa, where he served as Editor of the North American Review (2000-2016). He is also former Editor of Star*Line, the print journal of the international Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (2017-2020). His poetry collections include Dragonfly, Ghost Wars, Fighting Kite, The Coolest Month. and the upcoming Pacific Crossing. Recent poems appeared in Altered Reality Magazine, Crab Orchard Review, Dreams & Nightmares, The Ekphrastic Review, Philippines Graphic (Philippines), Rosebud, The Wild Word (Germany) and the anthologies Multiverse (UK), Dear America, and Hay(na)ku 15. He blogs at The Man with the Blue Guitar.

How to Float
by Sara Lynne Puotinen

Try to
imagine you’re
light lighter the lightest
high higher the highest, the most

when your daughter
cradles you in the shallow
water. Carrying you like a

You two
laughing splashing
forgetting gravity.
Unburdened by weight, land’s logic.

Pretend you are
sparkling grapefruit water
excessively effervescent

there. Only a
hint of flavor, mostly
fizziness shimmering at the

Do not
think about what’s
below or not below
you. In fact, do not think at all
just be

Calm. Not Heavy.
Almost bursting with air.
Breezy & Loose. Liberated.

Flat. Stretched.
Reaching out. Be
the horizon that cuts
through sky water, above beneath.
Be the

big bridge
spanning the lake.
Delivering the goods.
Linking lands and worlds and lives in

in breath and your
body’s ability
to not stay sunk but to rise up,
to float.

IMAGE: Woman floating by Jennifer Bartlett (1997), used by permission.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Mid-June through the end of August is open swim season in Minneapolis. For two hours three times a week, you can swim back and forth across Lake Nokomis. I have been participating since 2013. I swim across the lake and then later, I write about what I remember doing/feeling/noticing during my swim in an online log. In 2018, I turned these log entries into a series of poems. This particular poem was inspired by a memory of swimming with my daughter, the desire to reflect on the joy of weightlessness, and my love of Adelaide Crapsey‘s cinquain.

PHOTO: Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis, Minnesota (October 7, 2017) by Thomson200, used by permission.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sara Lynne Puotinen lives in south Minneapolis, Minnesota, near the Mississippi River Gorge, where she reads and writes and tries to be upright and outside as much as possible. She earned a B.A. in religion, an M.A. in ethics, and a Ph.D in women’s studies, which all inform her experiments in paying attention and her playful troubling of what it means to write while running (or swimming or moving), to run while writing, and to do both while losing her central vision from a degenerative eye disease. Her most recent project, Mood Rings, is a series of nine poems about her moods as she loses her central vision from cone dystrophy, using her blind spot and the Amsler grid as form. For more of her work, visit