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.


This is an accentual form created by Mary Lou Healy, writing as Mlou on Allpoetry.Com.

Even fewer poets have the training and awareness to carry off a seamless accentual form than have that ability when working with an established meter. So I have constructed the template for her original verse “The Last Hurrah”, as alternating iambic trimeter and dimeter, which it technically is.

The Last Hurrah
The Last Hurrah

Oh, that last defiance
in face of fate,
the red glove flung down
at winter’s gate! There is no mute compliance,
no patient wait.
Dressed in gypsy gown,
fall holds fete.

Brief, so brief the hour
to scintillate,
to make the canvas sing,
to resonate.
Every leaf a flower
to captivate
the heart, to hold ’til spring…
Spring, don’t be late!

Restated specifications
The Dibi is:
Stanzaic, consisting of two or more octains.
Metered, consisting of alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter.
Rhymed: abcbabcb. I quite enjoyed the feminine a-rhyme, but Mary Lou avows it is optional.

Visual Template
My example

When Wrong is Right(Dibi)

I’m sometimes wrong I guess
It must be true,
because I don’t agree
at times with you.
Although I must confess
my doubts accrue
logic’s an absentee;
from your own view.
But even if you’re wrong
things work out right
between the two of us
if I’m contrite.
Correct won’t bang a gong
and bring delight
worth raising any fuss
with you at night.
© Lawrencealot – December 1, 2014

Linked Refrain

This is a form created my Mary Lou Healy, writing as Mlou on
It is patterned after her own “Autumn’s Imperious Call”.

I’m blown away on the wildling winds of fall.
Almost, it seems, I have no will at all
but melt into those colored dancing streams
that swirl and whirl, painting my leaf-filled dreams.

Painting my leaf-filled dreams with amber light
that glows and goes straight to the heart of things.
This is the season when my hopes take flight
and soar to more ardent heights on burning wings.

On burning wings, my autumn days are borne
into an endless sky.  I must obey
the bright command.  As leaves from trees are torn,
on falling, calling notes,  I’m blown away.

Pasted from

It shares the stanzaic nature and rhyme pattern of the Swap Quatrain but is unique in meter, and by nature of it’s inter-stanza linkage. I have named in the Linked Refrain.

The Linked Refrain is:
Stanzaic: Consisting of 3 or more quatrains
Metered: Iambic Pentameter
Rhymed: aabb cdcd efef, etc
Refrain: The last portion of the last line of each stanza becomes the first part of the next stanza, except for the final stanza. It’s last portion is the first portion of the first stanza.

My example

2nd Amendment to U.S. Constitution (Linked Refrain)

A last resort is revolution, friend,
when tyranny and foul abuse must end.
Dependency sets liberty askew
when laws are slanted by a monied few.

A moneyed few will finally take control
as Tytler showed us, only all too well.*
The point is reached where voting plays no role
and masters then arise we can’t expel.

We can’t expel dictators- we’re but slaves
and will accept a fair amount of pain.
The point will come when men prefer their graves
to bondage. Then of course we’ll fight again.

We’ll fight again; the question is, with what?
We’ll not have laser drones or planes or tanks
nor will the masters use them to rebut
our will for fear of rage within the ranks.

Within the ranks of tyrants in the past
their scheme has been disarm – exterminate!
Won’t we be safer minus guns they asked?
Hell no! The facts are such I’d hesitate.

I’d hesitate for social crime alone,
disarmed against a thief I’d come up short.
I’m keeping every single gun I own
for patriots they are a last resort.

© Lawrencealot – November 3, 2014

* See a brief descripton of the Tytle cycle here:
http: article-03-14-09.html

Visual template

Linked Refrain

MLou Chanson

 This form was created by Mary Lou Healy, who write on as MLou.
It was patterned after the Italian song “Canto Della Terra” as expressed by Mary Lou in her own poem Chanson.

So true to the song is the form of her poem that she completed it using a tail, similar to a Bob and Wheel, which gives great freedom to other poets trying this form.

Chanson by Mary Lou Healy

We sing the earth
on waves of music lifting
spirits to the stars
and over oceans drifting…
days and nights
that through an hourglass sifting
turn seasons round
and our bright future gifting…

We sing of joy
a life of love beginning
rooted to earth
yet wings of beauty spinning
through lucent air
where blowing leaves are pinning
tomorrow’s hopes
and all our dreams of winning…

to the sun
the light, the light…
the sun, the sun,
the sun….

Pasted from

The Mlou Chanson is
A poem of 20 or 21 lines
Stanzaic: Two octaves plus a tail of four on five short lines
Metered: Alternating iambic dimeter and iambic trimeter for the octave
one or two stressed syllabls per line for the tail
Rhymed: xaxaxaxa xbxbxbxb for the octave, poet’s discretion for the tail
the octave rhymes are feminine.

My example

Lets Sing

Let’s Sing!  (Mlou Chanson)

We tend to sing
a song when we are happy
I tend to sing
alone because I’m crappy;
but none-the-less
the tunes I choose are snappy,
and frequently
I learned them from my pappy.

A flashmob meets
intending on performing
and often you
won’t notice while they’re forming
as into malls
or avenues they’re swarming
but when they start
you’ll find your heart is warming.

They’ll bring
a grin or smile
and sing, sing, sing
for just a while.

© Lawrencealot – November 3, 2014

Visual template
(Note: Any rhyme scheme okay for the tail)

MLou Chanson



 This form was created by Mary Lou Healy, who writes on as MLou.  
It was patterned after her own poem Scented Medicine.

Scented Medicine … (A first-and-last rhyme)
Leaving a signature,
weaving so wondrous pure
a fragrance to fill this room…
a flagrance, such heavy bloom!
Showering air with scent,
flowering there, rose lent
glamor to plainest day,
clamoring, “Won’t you stay
a bit of a while?  You’ll find
a bit of a smile in mind.”
Stopping, I lost my frown.
Dropping sweet petals down,
rose begins to shatter;
knows that it won’t matter,
for her short life has gifted
more than my spirits lifted!

Pasted from—…—-A-first-and-last-rhyme–by-Mlou

This poet required the help of the author to properly present the metric specifications for this form, because Mary Lou used ascephalous feet predominately, but not exclusively throughout.

The form is:
Stanzaic: consisting of 4 stanzas, a quatrain, a sestet, a quatrain, and a couplet.
Metric: All lines are trimeter. The first 12 lines consist of an iamb, an anapest, and a iamb. The final 4 lines are all iambic trimeter.
Rhymed: Head rhyme and End Rhyme exist in a couplet pattern throughout the poem.
Rhyme pattern is independent for head and end rhyme: aabbccddeeffgghh. The final 4 end-rhymes are feminine.

My example

I Need No Promises  (First-and-Last-Rhyme)

I pondered the cleric’s verse
and squandered my time, and worse;
I gave weight to other men
who raved and then said “Amen.”

If fables that stood for fact
enabled priests to extract
behavior and tithing to
a savior who’d then save you
those men wearing “truth’s” own cloak
again can promote a joke.

I’ll die as will all of us.
So why pray tell, make a fuss?

My soul finds “now” appealing.
My role requires no dealing.
No Hell you’ll find me fearing; 
it’s well this life’s endearing.

© Lawrencealot – November 2, 2014

Visual template
Note: I found it more convenient to present the poem
as quatrain, sestet, couplet,quatrain because of the continuity of meter.

First and Last Rhyme


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

I had originally named it the Spanner, drawn from the title of  the poem below.  However she has written several with the general form, including a sonnet version, so I am changing the form name in both cases to “Twin-Rhymer” which in more descriptive and is the creator’s preference.

Her first such poem was “I Span the Sky”

Like the forest in which I stand,
I raise my arms to embrace the sky.
I’m one with tall trees and greening land
with never a need to question why.
Life is what it is!  On either hand,
I grasp its truth with a gladsome cry.
I hold it fast by a single strand
and all the whims of chance deny.
The farthest vistas my arms have spanned,
intensely blue as lazuli,
hold secrets I may not understand
but I’ve no need to identify
the mystery of a cloud, wind-fanned
or the wing-tilt of dark hawks who fly.
All is just as creation planned
for the life of such as you and I.
Pasted from

I named it the Spanner and provided the specifications below, so that we might try it.

The Spanner is:
The poem is a strophe of any even number of lines.
Meter: Tetrameter lines, consisting of primarily of:
Iamb + Amphibrach +2 iambs
Rhyme pattern: alternating rhymes, also called cross-rhyme i.e., ababab

Note: The template I present to the world will be of a
poem that adheres strictly to the quoted meter, although
we know that in practice a line may  range from 7 to 10 syllables.

My example

Snoozing with My Muse (Twin-Rhymer)

I sleep so soundly when very tired
as opposed to when I merely doze,
and I get tired when I’m uninspired
that’s very often, I do suppose.
While doing nothing will make me tired
I tire much more wielding rakes and hoes.
I put in all of the years required
in solving corporate cares and woes;
then time arrived and I was retired.
I’ve time to think now, and to compose,
but can’t begin till a theme’s acquired.
So there I sit. You know how that goes!
I drift off thinking of things desired…
I’m working honey, in sweet repose.

© Lawrencealot – October 18, 2014

Visual template
Now renamed Twin-Rhymer


Lilt – An invented form created by Mary Lou Healy, aka Mlou of Allpoetry

It is:
A 16 LINE poem, consisting of four quatrain stanzas
Accentual with odd lines of each stanza having 3 stressed syllable
and even lines having two stressed syllables
Rhyme Scheme: abab cdcd efef ghgh
Rentrement requirement: The 2nd line of each stanza becomes part of the first line of the next stanza
and the 2nd Line of the final stanza, is the first part of the first Stanza’s first line.

This form employs a rentrement or rentrament (fr.) which is the repetition of a phrase from one line as a line elsewhere in the poem. The device is also found in the Rondeau and English Ballet.

Note, while only the number of stressed syllable in a line is important,
The poet may get there using any metric scheme, or none.

NEW: After I had posted my double Lilt, the inventor has decided to allow unlimited Lilts to be strung together as a single poem, if the author observes the rule of linking the final stanza in the poem, to the first line of the poem.

My Example

Emptying the Hall    ( A double Lilt)

It is madness, don’t you think, and not too nice
to deposit one old pickle
when the dictionary called for beans or spice
and the hostess seems so fickle?

To deposit one old pickle on the plate
when three cucumbers were ordered
could upset the wild old chef – who exhales hate;
then he’ll have you drawn and quartered.

When three cucumbers were ordered – don’t be bragging,
(you add vinegar and cukes.)
and it’s gibberish, methinks, but tongues are wagging.
and they’re betting the chef pukes.

You add vinegar and cukes into your salsa.
It is madness, don’t you think,
To be serving things that crunch with forks of balsa?
I for one was tickled pink.

The party’s done and now
The story’s told
and Morse code tells them how
you were so bold.

The story’s told in print
your name’s revealed.
I never gave a hint;
my lips are sealed.

Your name’s revealed in spurting
and fractured prose
can’t leave a poet hurting,
I don’t suppose.

And fractured prose re-runs!
The party’s done.
The bread and buttered buns
I thought were fun.

© Lawrencealot – September 23, 2014

Visual templates



The Caprice form was invented in a whimsical moment by Mary Lou Healy, aka Mlou on

The caprice is:
Stanzaic: It is a poem consisting of any number of cinquain stanzas
Metered: It is written in iambic pentameter except for L2 of each stanza being iambic dimeter
Rhyme Pattern: ababa cdcdc efefe, etc.

What Meaning by Mlou

What meaning in an autumn afternoon
when the sun, low sinking in the west
goes down too soon,
when breeze that whispered, dear, I love you best,
now sighs the farewell notes of mournful loon?

The chill that rattles every browning leaf
echoes through my blood and stills my bones
beyond belief.
I grudge the ticking clock those mellowed tones,
knowing Time is an accomplished thief.

I fear that falling leaves can’t be denied,
can’t be returned to limbs now growing bare
although I’ve tried.
Those melancholy endings float on air
and mirror my forebodings deep inside.


My example

Community Pup  (Caprice)

What pleasure’s taken when I take a stroll.
My puppy patient; anytime I stop
he plays his role.
For meeting folks, my dog’s a natural prop.
But playing ball with kids is his real goal.

We walk three quarters of a mile each way;
a park with slides and swings is near the school
where dogs can play.
The kids think playing catch with Griz is cool,
so now we do it nearly everyday.

I walk because the doctor said I should
but stopping at the park is just for Griz,
And that is good.
Each day before school starts that’s where he is,
and he’s well-known throughout our neighborhood.

© Lawrencealot – September 6, 2014

Visual Template



Entwined Form
This is a form invented by Mary Lou Healy, aka Mlou on
The form consists of three or more trimeter quintets, usually in Iambic where the 3rd line of each stanza rhymes with the first line of the following stanza, until the final stanza which rhymes with the first line of the poem.
Rhyme pattern: abcba cdedc efafe
Example Poem
Growth in Scansion
If I can ever learn
well then I’ll try to teach.
But just today I find
my wants exceed my reach,
and yet for more I yearn.
Old knowledge falls behind,
but learning it was key
for now I understand
those things I could not see-
no syllables defined.
The first two stanzas scan
as iambs every one.
an ananapest is wide.
It looks not right when done
in syllables, here man.
Trimeter’s satisfied.
Shoes don’t swap but feet do.
For syllables dactyls have three
and iambs have but two.
Three feet per line I’ve tried.
A template let’s you see
and can be used intact,
learning feet lets you spurn
just counting, that’s a fact-
a skill eluding me.
Visual Template


MLou Quintet

This form was invented by Mary Lou Healy, aka, MLou at Allpoetry
Each Stanza has the following form:
Line 1, 5 feet;
Line 2, 3 feet;
Line 3, 4 feet;
Line 4, 3 feet;
Line 5, 4 feet.
As many quintet stanzas as preferred,
rhyme scheme: ababa  cdcdc  efefe  ghghg  etc.
Example Poem
My Wife
While I sat pondering, “What shall I write?”
my thoughts turned to my wife.
Of course she is my warmth at night-
adds color to my life,
but still those claims seem much too trite.
Her common sense exceeds one’s proper share.
No problem she has faced
has gone unsolved; now that is rare.
She finds what I’ve misplaced
and tends to all with loving care.
She thinks that even at my age I’m fine,
and though I don’t agree
(I think my faults are still benign)
she does put up with me
and populates my life’s design.
© Lawrencealot – September 24, 2012
Visual Template