Shrinking Verse

This is a form created by Mary Lou Healy, writing as Mlou on

The Shrinking Verse is:

  • Stanzaic: It consists of three or more stanzas of diminishing length written in common meter, followed by a single rhyming iambic tetrameter couplet. Usually the stanza preceding the couplet is four lines in length.
  • Metric: It is written in common meter (alternating lines 0f iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter.)
  • Rhyme: Each stanza has its own alternating two rhymes and the final couplet rhymes aa.
  • Volta: The final couplet provides a turn, a twist, or a summary of the poem.

Mlou’s Example

Form: Shrinking Stanza

The Sacrifice

Dark forces held the earth in thrall
and morning did succumb.
In strict command, night covered all
and beat a muted drum.
But Blanche, the maid of light, did call
her white doves swift to come,
to sweep away the fearsome pall
and new day’s guitar, strum.

They gathered all the darkness in,
absorbed it, one by one,
until day’s magic could begin
to summon forth the sun.
Blanche and her flock will always win
though task is never done.

The price they pay to rescue day
is burdensome and sad;
to keep the clouded night at bay,
they’re e’er in blackness clad.

Oh, white and black, those opposites
on which time’s glass of hours sits!

© Oct. 17, 2015 – Mary Lou Healy

My Example

Form: Shrinking Stanza


The universe in iambs beat
except when more excited
and then there may be many feet
that spring up uninvited.
When two electrons chance to meet
their meeting is high-lighted
with touches that are short and sweet
that leave mere men delighted.

God particles and nutrinos
are hypothecated;
entanglement that comes and goes
with distance unrelated
are guesses because no one knows
(’til after they’re cremated.)

But we can listen to the clatter
and some may then conclude
that changing states of God’s matter
ought be left to that dude.

Iambs will work, ‘cept when they won’t.
Should we all care? Because I don’t.

© Lawrencealot – October 21, 2015

In appreciation of Mary Lou’s teaching me about the sanctity of feet versus syllables, I have freely used feminine rhyme throughout.

Rhyming Wave

The Rhyming Wave is a poetry form created by Katharine L. Sparrow, American writer and poet who writes on

The Rhyming Wave is:

  • Stanzaic: Consisting of 2 or more quatrains plus an ending couplet.
  • Metric: Lines 1 through 3 are iambic tetrameter and
  • line 4 is iambic trimeter.
  • Refrained: Syllables 6 & 7 of line one are repeated as syllables 2 thru 7 and syllable 8 is the same in both lines and syllables 1 & 2 are of line 3 are repeated in line 4
  • Refrain: The ending couplet is the first and the last line of the previous stanzas.
  • NOTE: The author is amenable to having poets substitute rhyming as well as identical syllables. I have done so in my example poem.
  • Rhymed: Rhyme scheme Aaab BBbc CCd AD, where the capital letters represent refrain words or refrain lines.

Here is the author’s own explanation. At the end I have included a visual template that may help some.

The Rhyming Wave is a form of my own invention. The instructions seem complicated, but once you start writing it, you will get it pretty quickly. A Rhyming Wave is so named because words repeat themselves, similar to waves lapping over and over again on the shore. A Rhyming Wave has at least 2 verses and an ending couplet. Each verse is four lines with the first three written in iambic tetrameter (4 “feet” of 2 syllables each) and the fourth line three feet, or six syllables. The ending couplet will be the first and last lines of the poem repeated. To write a Rhyming Wave you must know how to write in iambic meter. This is the da-DUM, da-DUM rhythm. If you don’t know how to do this, your Rhyming Wave may not come out sounding as it should. As with all iambic metered poems, it does not have to be PERFECT, but it should sound melodious to the ear.

  • – First line: 4 iambic feet (8 syllables)
    • She dwells among the foamy swells,
  • – Second line : syllables 6 and 7 of line one are repeated as syllables 2 through 7 (three times) and syllable 8 is also repeated as syllable 8.
    • the foamy, foamy, foamy swells–
  • – Third line: 4 iambic feet (8 syllables) last syllable rhymes with last syllable of lines one and two
    • Beneath the cresting waves she dwells,
  • – Fourth line: first 2 to 3 syllables (whichever fits) of line three are repeated/ six syllables only
    • beneath the ocean’s roll.
  • Verses 2 through 4, same pattern – first line of each verse rhymes with last line of previous verse:
    • Her song floats from a sandy shoal
    • a sandy, sandy, sandy shoal–
    • her voice that creeps into the soul,
    • her voice, a crooning trill.
    • And over all a misty chill
    • a misty, misty, misty chill–
    • she’ll sing again, it’s sure she will,
    • she’ll sing her haunting tune.
    • Her humming soothes the silver moon,
    • the silver, silver, silver moon,
    • where stars will span the ocean soon–
    • where stars will hear her song.
  • Ending couplet, first and last lines of the poem:
    • She dwells among the foamy swells,
    • where stars will hear her song.
  • The poem must have at least 2 verses, but there is no limit to the number of verses

Sparrow’s Examples

Form: Rhyming Wave

Mermaid’s Song

She dwells among the foamy swells,
the foamy, foamy, foamy swells–
beneath the cresting waves she dwells,
beneath the ocean’s roll.

Her song floats from a sandy shoal
a sandy, sandy, sandy shoal–
her voice that creeps into the soul,
her voice, a crooning trill.

And over all a misty chill
a misty, misty, misty chill–
she’ll sing again, it’s sure she will,
she’ll sing her haunting tune.

Her humming soothes the silver moon,
the silver, silver, silver moon,
where stars will span the ocean soon–
where stars will hear her song.

She dwells among the foamy swells
where stars will hear her song.

Rose Covered

A cottage in the shady wood,
the shady, shady, shady wood–
amid soft, leafy arms it stood
amid the woodland trees.

Perfume hung on the hazy breeze
the hazy, hazy, hazy breeze
where roses opened for the bees
where roses blossomed red.

The roses climbed and gently spread,
and gently, gently, gently spread–
they made the walls a flower bed,
they made the cottage sweet.

A respite in the steamy heat,
the steamy, steamy, steamy heat–
a cool and comfortable retreat
a cool and quiet place.

A cottage in the shady wood,
a cool and quiet place.

© Katharine L. Sparrow

My Example

Form: Rhyming Wave

Pleasant Quest

He waited for the perfect mate
the perfect, perfect, perfect mate
the one he would appreciate
the one he knew he’d find.

She’d have to have a caring mind
a daring, rare and caring mind
to make him leave his quest behind
to make him say, “It’s you!’

Enroute he took a playful view–
a playful, playful, playful view
before he chose to say, “I do”–
before he chose his bride.

He had a very pleasing ride–
a pleasing, teasing, pleasing ride
He mostly left girls satisfied.
He most enjoyed the search.

He waited for the perfect mate
He most enjoyed the search.

© Lawrencealot – August 27, 2015

Visual Template:

Dr Stella

Pathways for the Poet by Viola Berg (1977) is a book for and by educators. Classic poetic forms as well as many invented forms which appear to have been invented as teaching tools or exercizes for use in workshops or classrooms are included. Some of these invented forms I have found in use in internet poetry communities, a testament to their staying power. On this page I include the metric invented forms found there in which appear to be exclusive to the community of educators from whom Ms. Berg drew her support. I have yet to find these in any other source. I have included the syllabic invented forms on a separate page. Whether classroom exercise or sharpening your skill as a writer, some of these forms can be fun to play with.

• Dr Stella is a verse using sequential rhyme*. It was developed by James Gray in honor of Dr Stella Woodall who was at one time president of the American Poetry League and editor of a couple of poetry magazines.

The Dr Stella is:
an octave made up of 2 quatrains.
metered, alternating iambic tetrameter and trimeter.
rhymed, abcdabcd. L2 and L6 have feminine end words.

Pasted from
My thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on this fine PMO resource.

*This is also known as external rhyme or remote rhyme.

My example

Nail-Biting (Dr Stella)

Two golden-agers in a room
complained about mate’s habits.
“It irritates and drives me mad,
I need to find relief”.
“I know the way to cure your groom

as I did mine, dad-nabbit. 
Do what I did to my old Brad
and simply hide his teeth.”

© Lawrencealot – September 6, 2014

Visual template

Dr Stella


9:56 AM
Form: Sestalena
Invented by: Caroline Ann Gordon on Allpoetry
syllabic  6/8/8/6/8/6
rhyme    abbaba
Length 6 lines
a Lines Iambic Trimeter
b Lines Iambic Tetrameter
Example Poem
Apprenticeship     (Sestalena)
I found that gasoline
is not accelerant preferred
for burning work-site junk.  A nerd,
they let me learn just fine,
The boom! The bounce! I looked absurd.
The blast turned out benign.
Construction guys have fun
in teaching newbies with a sting.
First wheelbarrow I tried to bring
across a plank built run
On my first turn, I dumped the thing.
Applause by everyone.
The egg noodles were free
but changed the texture quite a bit
of my jam sandwich- a new hit.
My colleagues laughed with glee.
The jokes on me just never quit.
Yet, all were good for me
The AM radio
that day in nineteen sixty-three,
announced the death of Kennedy
so that is how I know
when noodle sandwich jubilee
became a subdued show.
But thanking good old Zeus,
I transitioned from labor skills
to other ways to pay my bills.
So I have no excuse
my poems don’t provide more thrills,
I’m just a bit obtuse.
  © Lawrencealot – January 10, 2013
Visual Template

Slide Ballad

This form was invented by Larry Eberhart, aka, Lawrencealot 
and dedicated to Victoria Sutton, aka, Passionspromise, inventor of the Slide Sonnet.
Slide Ballad consists of 6 or more quatrains in common meter
Rhyme pattern

The rhyme of first stanza to be repeated every fifth stanza, and as the final stanza,
Only the a-rhymes must rhyme in each stanza
Where the a-lines in the final stanza are made up of segments from
the preceding a-lines, see template and example
Feminine rhyme is permitted as exception to common meter.
(This is mainly and exercise form, without much to recommend it.)
Example Poem
Soldier   (Slide Ballad)
There was nowayhe’d fail to join
the fight, and stay and play
while others wore the uniform
and gave their lives away.
His parents’ view, was fearful but,
all hoped he’d make it through.
His Margie said “You’ll come back, Joe,”
I’ll wait until you do.
The war ground on, relentlessly,
’til many friends were gone.
Some missing limbs went home.  Some stayed,
interred ‘neath foreign lawn.
Joe suffered grave injuries twice,
from those who would enslave.
He returned to fight each time – saying,
“It’s not because I’m brave.
I want to stay until we win,
We shall ,I hope and pray.
I cannot set aside my role
while evil still holds sway.
He was the last left living now
behind the lines when fast
advancing  enemy took charge,
and then the battle passed.
‘Twas only he the farmer found
a live, but bound to be
a corpse if left. The farmer cared
with quiet dignity.
Another year elapsed; he healed,
and hid and helped them clear
their crops,  He learned some French and learned
the end of war was near.
There was no way to thank his friends
who’d risked their lives that way.
I’ll fetch my Marge, then we’ll return;
We shall ,I hope and pray.
  © Lawrencealot – January 8, 2013
Visual Template