Poetry On Demand

Part of the "Send Two Hippies In Love To San Francisco" Fund.


On Hiatus until mid-December, at least. Sorry for the long time in posting this, but college tends to swamp you when you're taking nearly 30 credit hours.



As a person with Irish origins, I can't believe I forgot to include this one. A limerick is possibly the only verse form to originate in Enlgish. Structurally it has five lines, with lines 1, 2, and 5 consisting of three metrical feet, while lines 3 and 4 each with two feet. The lines are traditionally anapestic, two unaccented syllables followed by an accented one, although you commonly find some variation in that. The rhyme scheme is aabba.

Traditionally, the first line of a limerick introduces a a person and a place (There once was a man from Nantucket...). Limericks also have fun with wordplay, and are almost always bawdy or dirty, after some fashion.

There once was a young lady from Sneem
Who announced things were not what they seemed.
She raised her skirts higher
and blinded the choir;
That's how brightly her family jewels gleamed.



A Persian poetic form, from the Arabic for "the talk of boys and girls". These poems are usually flirty and sweet-talking, light-hearted. It is formed of five to twelve couplets, with the poet's name in the final stanza. The lines do not have to necessarily tell a story, in fact, one of the characteristics of a classic ghazal is that each couplet can stand on its own and be understood, like a proverb or saying. However, all of the lines contribute to a central idea- the unity is based on the idea of a theme, and its variations.

In regards to meter, in the most traditional ghazal (which is what I try to work with) the lines are all the same length, syllable-wise.

The rhyme scheme is fairly complicated for the ghazal. The first couplet shares a rhyme, and is supposed to set the mood for the entire poem. That first rhyme (the actual words, called radif) is supposed to be repeated as the rhyme in the second line of each of the successive couplets. Also, the words that come before the radif (called kaafiyaa) are supposed to rhyme with the kaafiyaa of all successive rhymes.

An example is below but here, roughly, is the rhyme scheme:






And so on. The 1 is the kaafiyaa, whereas A represents the radif, the words that repeat. It is similar to the rondeau, in the sense that it is only a few words that must necessarily be repeated, and not the whole line.

Here is a ghazal that I wrote, as close to the original Persian format as possible. I wasn't able to find any other formal English ghazals.

By the Phone

I wish I could stop waiting by the phone
I know I cannot live life by the phone

"It seemed everything started off just fine,"
I sit here contemplating by the phone.

We'd hardly seen each other out of class
but found ourselves relating by the phone.

I loved to sit and work with you all night,
Composing and creating by the phone.

When we decided to start "going out,"
We stopped our conversating by the phone.

When college came you moved; we'd spend our nights
up late commiserating by the phone.

Our first semester we were doing fine--
We were a couple, dating by the phone.

The spring came and I thought that all was well,
No clue you were debating by the phone.

You told me that you'd found another girl:
Relationship-negating by the phone.

Though I still find myself here every night,
My love's disintegrating by the phone.

When I believe that I am strong enough
Well, Laurie will start hating by the phone.

Of course, that's still being worked on, and there's an alternate final stanza, but it's a start, at least. A difficult form, definitely.


There are six stanzas to the villanelle; the first five stanzas have three lines each, and the final stanza has four lines. The first and last lines of the first stanza take turns repeating as the last lines of the four middle stanzas, and then form the last two lines of the poem. The poem has a rhyme scheme of aba in every stanza, except the last which, due to the repetition of the two lines from the first stanza, is abaa.

There is not necessarily any meter to the villanelle, but if you would like one, again, request it and I'll do what I can.

The rhyme scheme, with the repeating lines marked as A1 and A2, is as follows:







a Lonely

I used to have a home but now it’s gone;
let myself hope, but lost it all again.
I want to go back where I once belonged.

I thought that I could leave and still be strong,
Go back in time, before I let you in.
I used to have a home but now it’s gone.

Remember waking at the crack of dawn,
And feeling early sun upon our skin?
I want to go back where I once belonged.

I thought I’d be forgiven where I’d wronged,
Erase the past and let new life begin;
I used to have a home but now it’s gone.

I left in spite but I soon found I longed
To go back to a place I had a friend;
Wanted to go back where I once belonged.

I should have known the answer all along—
A broken heart is not that quick to mend.
I used to have a home but now it’s gone;
I want to go back where I once belonged.


The sestina is a style of sixes- it has six unrhymed lines in six stanzas, in which the words on the end of the first stanza's lines that recur at the end of each line in the following stanzas. There is also a three-line concluding stanza, which may or may not incorporate all six words, but certainly contains three at the end of the lines. One feature of the end-words is that they never occur in the same line in any stanza, for example, the end-word of the first line of the first stanza will not be the last word on any of the other stanza's first line.

There is usually no meter, but I can use one, upon request.

The difficulty in writing a sestina lies in making sure the six end-words are never boring to read, or stale. And usually, by the end of the poem, some kind of story has been told.


we were young, we were eternal
in the full blossom of our youth;
and that never-ending summer
that was the greatest of our life
we knew that we would never age
all the worries of high school past

and who would dare fault us our youth?
our exuberance for summer
when school still dictated our life
even after we’d come of age,
after graduation was past,
those twelve years that felt eternal?

the parking lots in the summer
driving in circles, filled with life
listening to bands our parents’ age
Don McLean singing of the past
American Pie’s eternal
forever the anthem of youth.

but nothing’s permanent in life
there is a death to every age
how’d we know it was going past,
when we thought it was eternal?
who could foretell the end of youth
even near the end of summer?

no one ever thinks they will age
the best times are never the past
not when your days are eternal
and on your tongue you still taste youth
you don’t see the end of summer
when you’re busy living your life

then we were dreaming of the past
where we found those days eternal
and we woke up without our youth
on that final day of summer
we felt the call of a new life
the unexpected weight of age

life eternal, fountain of youth,
where was summer, and that sweet life?
yet we must age, and time goes past.


Another French poem, associated with the Rondeau, this one is eight lines, with two rhymes and two repeating lines. The first line is also used as the fourth and seventh lines, and the second and the eighth lines are the same. If A1 is the first repeated rhyme, and B2 the second, the format would look so:


Again, there is an example in the introductory post.


A French thirteen-line poem that has lines of either 8 or 10 syllables in length. It is divided into stanzas of five, three, and five lines, constructed around two rhymes. The first words (or entire first line) are used as a refrain that repeats independent of the rhyme scheme, adding two lines to the basic thirteen. The format is such:

A (Refrain)



An example is in the introductory post.


A sonnet is a fourteen-line poem which has a set rhyme scheme. There are two rhyme schemes typically taught in high school- the Shakespearean (Elizabethan) and the Italian (Petrarchan). The Shakespearean sonnet is divided into three stanzas of four lines each, and an ending couplet, with a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg. The Italian sonnet is usually two stanzas, one eight lines (an octet) and one six lines (a sestet), with a rhyme scheme that tends towards variation: the octet is usually either abbaabba or abbacddc, and the sestet is usually xyzxyz or xyxyxy.

In requesting a sonnet, you can specify which rhyme scheme you prefer.

The sonnet usually focuses on one idea, which it builds in the beginning , and usually resolves, in some way, in the final two lines (or sestet).

In terms of meter, most sonnets are written in iambic pentameter, so if you would like the poem written in another meter, you simply have to request it. The default is iambic pentameter.

The Battle Has Been Won

The fiery pits of Hell produced a beast
Who rose up from the horrid lake of fire
The earth was then the platter for its feast
Our only hope for life could come from higher

The page was written long before it started
We all knew who would triumph in the end
Fear now the one who is still empty-hearted
Fear not the one that Jesus calls His friend

The way, the Truth, the Life, the Only Son
Already conquered evil on the cross
The hills rejoice “The Battle has been won!”
Although for us to gain He must be lost

The praise is all for God, the Son, and Ghost
Of all your loves, you should love Them the most.


A five-line Japanese style that uses strong images and employs poetic devices, such as metaphor and personification, that haiku avoids. There is no rhyme or meter, per se, but the first and third lines are shorter than the second, fourth, and fifth. In English, a pattern of accented syllables (two-three-two-three-three) is used to emulate the rhythms of Japanese. These are usually mood pieces, which use imagery to evoke the mood in the reader.

the porch swing rocks
a cradle for our youth
we sit till dawn
remembering the days
when silence didn't hold
these reluctant goodbyes


Although normally understood to be a three-line, seventeen-syllable poem, with a 5-7-5 syllable/line pattern, actual haikus are not necessarily structured like that. The main features of a haiku are the focus on capturing a single moment or action, use of simple, uncomplicated words and grammar, and the avoidance of poetic devices such as metaphor and simile.

The form of a haiku is generally three short lines, with the first and third roughly the same length, and the second longer than the others.

Edit (8-27-05 9:52am): As per Nia's advice, I'm adding a few more requirements to the definition of haiku. I'll post a proper one later- it's still early for me. I apologize for the lack of accuracy.

Other features include the use of a word (or words) to imply the time of year- this is not required, but is very frequent, as evident by all the haikus about cherry blossoms. Also, and this is where my former haiku failed, haikus avoid run-on sentences (using each line to add to the moment being expressed) and there must be at least one pause (or full stop).

As stated earlier, I'll post a proper haiku later. Thank you, Nia, for your corrections.


What is this?

A Triolet

I love to write hard poetry
I think traditional's the best
And I hope others might agree.
I love to write hard poetry,
And writing so others can see
I like the challenge and the test.
I like to write hard poetry
I think traditional's the best.

A Rondeau

I need to earn some money, fast
In order to help pay for class
And all the things that school entails,
Like room and board, and books, and bail;
Okay, so maybe not the last.

And maybe for the breaks that pass-
We all know the high cost of gas.
I hope this project doesn't fail,
I need to earn some money, fast.

I'll write the poem if you just ask
Select the topic and the cast
And then we can exchange e-mails
To clarify the choice and sale
And I will write your poem at last--
I need to earn some money, fast.

Essentially, you tell me what style of poem (from the listed choices) you'd like, and what you want it to be about. I'll write it for you, as best as the format and my own skill allow. I retain all copyrights, but you obviously have permission to display the poem, or gift it to someone else.

You know, these would probably make really good gifts- who wouldn't want a love sonnet written to them? Or even better, a sestina, or a villanelle? Traditional poetry means love, seriously- history will attest to that.

Or maybe you want something to commerate a child's birth, or a pet, or maybe you just really like squirrels. Whatever you want, I'll do my best to do it justice. Do you want it humourous, or serious? Passionate or remote?

There's really no better way to dump someone, either.

This is what happens.

1.) You decide what style of poem you'd like, and the topic.
2.) Send me an e-mail at poetryondemand@gmail.com, specifying your decision.
3.) I will reply to your e-mail, and we will discuss the selected topic and style, so that I can get a better feel of what you want.
4.) I write your poem.
5.) You send money to my PayPal account.
6.) I e-mail you the poem, or for extra money I can print it up all fancy and frame it for you, and send it to you via snail-mail.
7.) We are both, hopefully, satisfied with the transaction.

Anyway, the poems are priced according to how difficult I find that particular style, and, in general, the length. Here's the chart:

Haiku* - $1
Tanka* - $1
Limerick* - $1
Sonnet - $5
Rondeau -$5
Triolet - $5
Sestina - $10
Villanelle - $10
Ghazal - $10

*The one-dollar poems are for in-person sales only. Edit: In response to a friend's request, you can order a haiku, tanka, or limerick, if you are willing to convince me, or if it is part of a larger order.

Please keep in mind that it would be a violation of academic integrity policies if you were to submit one of my poems for your Creative Writing or English classes. Homie don't play that.

For more information on each style of poetry, click on the particular type, or scroll down to find all of the explanations. Every poem on this site is Copyright 2000-2005, Laurie Hayes.