#TheWombwellRainbow #Poeticformschallenge last week was a #Masnavi. Enjoy examples by Jerome Berglund, Marian Christie, Tim Fellows and Jane Dougherty and read how they felt when writing one.

Bird Signs

Birthing pains seeing red claws way from his head.
Glimpsed bathing in a spring, sics hounds on new thing.
Men’s armor could not match, her wit no less scratched.
Raining down on her gold around legs takes hold.
A judgement ill contrived, took one, countless lives.
When discovered in full, transformed into bull.
Her face brought in sailors took cut off jailers.
Requires ear protection, strong rope’s selection.
Prefer it were other, buries her brother.
From stool that moocher foretold the future.
Fain betrayed her own tribe, and let that belt slide.
Developed taste for fruit, nether world recouped.
Suitors thick as head lice matron names her price.
Occasionally home when allowed to roam.
Finds foundling through lotto, raises in grotto.
Wriggles beyond compare, when caught unawares.
Dipped him in best waters, false comforts brought her.
Find gaze could not withhold, yet that broke the mold.
Each does own discrete part, assembly line’s art.
This monster actions brung must gorge upon young.
Entrapped by handsome lid looses all there hid.
Oft bestows ideas, would rather she see us.
On way home from the war retrains until sore.
In life maintains presence, sends birthday presents.
Set out enviable spread, made beasts handily led.
In honoring her lord against own side scored.
Determined to have way loads issue on sleigh.
Three hair styles equal fluffed, by hearth long enough.

How Did It Go?

This form was a trickier one to get a feel for, but once you get the hang of it proves quite enjoyable and potent. There’s something of a hip hop or blues sensibility to the quick flashing rhymes occurring in rapid succession. Instead of proceeding in a linear fashion relating the content I ended up going one thought at a time and then rearranging as coherently as possible at the end the different lines exploring similar theme, in the fashion of haiku or senryu strings I’m more familiar and comfortable working with. Really an interesting and valuable form to add to the toolbox, enormously grateful to Paul and Wombwell for this continuing initiative, so look forward as always to reading talented practitioners from community boldly applying their own unique takes to, thank you!! (For you Greek mythology buffs, I challenge you to guess which specific legend each phrase is alluding to…)

Jerome Berglund

February’s Garden

The days are lengthening. Harbingers of spring
pierce through resistant soil; spikes of daffodils

and early tulips mingle, tight buds sprinkle
thin syringa stems. A few oak leaves linger,

crisp-curled and dead, rasping in the flowerbed –
but death is a stranger now. Pale hellebore

blushes shyly, fern fronds prepare to unfurl.
Clouds lift. The air is clear and bright. All winter

I have dug hard cold ground, hoed, mulched, dreamed of growth.
Now, accompanied by bird song, I plant words.

How did it go?

There seem to be several variations of this form, including heroic couplets, isosyllabic rhyming tercets and the variation I have chosen here, which has eleven-syllable lines each containing an internal rhyme. Initially I found it challenging not to lapse into pastiche or doggerel, and I had several false starts. In ‘February’s Garden’ I have employed caesurae, enjambment and occasional metrical disruption to focus (hopefully!) the reader’s attention on the sense and the images rather than on the underlying pattern. I’ve also used alliteration, in keeping with the form’s tradition.

Marian Christie

Night Fox

In the cold light of day, troubles fade away
but when you try to sleep, from your soul they creep
and claw into your brain, drizzle turns to rain
your confidence will crack, grey dissolves to black.
Ticking like a clock, stalking like a fox,
this creature of the night won’t draw blood or bite;
its terror is far worse than a witch’s curse
the future that it shows causes fear to grow
and when you think it’s done, here’s another one
more heinous than the last; in whose grip you’ll twist.
You’re praying for the sun, dawn’s relief to come
but then you think again; that just brings more pain,
problems in its wake, the cycle you can’t break.

How Did It Go?

This is the first format I’ve actively disliked. I’m not a fan of couplets at the best of times but the relentless nature of these makes the poem seem childish. It’s also really hard to end. Maybe it works for long narratives that have to be remembered but I’d still prefer Anglo Saxon alliteration for that purpose. I shall not be revisiting it for future use.

Tim Fellows

Dreams of flight

Heart and mind are one with the wind and no-sun,
rivers that run and run till the world is done,

and beneath this grim grey canopy of day,
we who’d choose the wild way, tread the tame byway.

I’d run with dainty deer and nimble hare, here
where rain and mere make mirrors of pewter drear,

and up above with black crow and turtle dove,
over the foxglove fields we’d fly and find love.

In the woods

In the dark of winter woods, runs the deer.
We watch and hark, red arrow leaping clear

through slanting sun, trees straight as spears. Moss green
boughs in the breeze hide secrets left unseen,

the flight, the set, the nest and hollow tree.
By bramble barbs beset, we leave them be.

How did it go?

Another form with a good rhythm and internal rhymes to give cohesion to the long lines of 10/11 syllables. Traditionally, these would be very long, religious or mystical poems, so I went with nature. The first poem is of 11 syllable lines, rhyming couplets with the same internal rhyme. The second poem has 10 syllable lines and the half lines have their own rhyme. I will try another one using consonance rather than full rhyme for the half-lines.

Jane Dougherty



If we could wait for that which grabs us in turn.
Terror’s grip at the throat/ the anxious blue burn.
Back of neck, cold-stone winter’s steps /blasted out
Beneath the door, I saw the shadow’s flee. Drought
conditions on the radio antennae
in this City following the dust, intense.


We heard rumors everywhere /Rumours every
shadow roaming beneath the door’s reverie,
back alleys front lanes lights\out broken hearts, long
Danger in windows, wine stores \ ledges along.
Taps of red /light over shoes /searchlight’s routine.
Findings: shortness of breath /fosters exhaustion.

How Did It Go?

11 syllables, aa/bb/cc/ – couplets that can be laid out into long poetic sequences. I felt it as a restless, narrative form, story-like, which invites description and intertwining action. Originally from 4th-10th c. Persia, masnavi could present opportunities for an extended drone-like piece, a mystical scoring (as exampled by Rumi) with both repetition and creation of a ‘world.’ I separated my lines with some punctuation to create rhythmic breaks – commas, slashes, period, 2 sections. Would be interesting to explore this further.

Robert Frede Kenter

– Robert Frede Kenter, author of EDEN (visual-poetry hybrid collection, 2021). Publisher, Ice Floe Press, http://www.icefloepress.net. Works in journals, print and online, published widely, internationally, grant recipient (Canada), Pushcart nom, 2nd prize winner, experimental drawing show, John B. Aird Gallery, (Toronto, 2004), etc.

Bios And Links

Jerome Berglund

has many poems in a variety of forms (including haiku, senryu and tanka) exhibited and forthcoming online and in print, most recently in the Asahi Shimbun, Bear Creek Haiku, Bamboo Hut, Bottle Rockets, Cold Moon Journal, Daily Haiga, Failed Haiku, Frogpond, Haiku Dialogue, Haiku Seed, Japan Society, Poetry Pea, Ribbons, Scarlet Dragonfly, Time Haiku, Triya, Under the Basho, Wales Haiku Journal, and the Zen Space. 


Marian Christie
was born in Zimbabwe and travelled widely before moving to her current home in Kent, southeast England. Publications include a chapbook, Fractal Poems (Penteract Press), and a collection of essays, From Fibs to Fractals: exploring mathematical forms in poetry (Beir Bua Press). Her new collection, Triangles, is forthcoming from Penteract Press in April.
Marian blogs at http://www.marianchristiepoetry.net and is on Twitter @marian_v_o.

Robert Frede Kenter,

author of EDEN (visual-poetry hybrid collection, 2021). Publisher, Ice Floe Press, http://www.icefloepress.net. Works in journals, print and online, published widely, internationally, grant recipient (Canada), Pushcart nom, 2nd prize winner, experimental drawing show, John B. Aird Gallery, (Toronto, 2004), etc.


Tim Fellows

is a writer from Chesterfield in Derbyshire whose ideas are heavily influenced by his background in the local coalfields, where industry and nature lived side by side. His first pamphlet “Heritage” was published in 2019. His poetic influences range from Blake to Owen, Causley to Cooper-Clarke and more recently the idea of imagistic poetry and the work of Spanish poet Miguel Hernandez.

Jane Dougherty

lives and works in southwest France. Her poems and stories have been published in magazines and journals including Ogham Stone, the Ekphrastic Review, ink sweat and tears, Nightingale & Sparrow and Brilliant Flash Fiction. Her poetry chapbooks, thicker than water and birds and other feathers were published in October and November 2020.

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