That cinquaine feeling

Writing is a tough row to hoe, and don’t let anyone tell you different. Perhaps the worst thing is when you’ve started a poem and somehow can’t finish it. You try all the usual tricks…leave it in your desk drawer for a couple of days, switch it round so that the first stanza becomes the last…and it still hasn’t come out right. It doesn’t taste right in your mouth when you read it aloud.

You’re probably writing it too soon. The poem hasn’t quite taken shape in your sub-conscious. The best thing to do is leave it in the desk drawer, or park it in the “ Bits and Pieces” folder on your computer. Never throw anything out. You’ll be able to cannibalise what you’ve got and use it in something you’re going to write in a couple of months time.

There is a way of avoiding that situation, though – warm-ups. You need to get your writing muscles into shape with a few practice runs. I used to write a couple of haiku to get the my brain in gear- they were dreadful haiku- but they did the job.

Now I think I’ve found something even better- cinquaines. Forgive me if you’ve been writing cinquaines for years and know all about them- but for the novices who don’t- try this link:

You can see they come in various flavours, but the 2,4,6,8,2 structure remains roughly the same.

You’re writing a small, concentrated poem which has to follow a set of rules- and yet have some impact when you’ve finished it. It’s a challenge- but a limited one. You have to play meaning off syllable or word numbers and squeeze out a good last line. Write a couple of cinquaines before you start your next big project and they’ll make the road a whole lot easier.

Here are some of mine. Not great poetry – more like circuit training for the mind. They might amuse you. Try them yourself- let me know any interesting results.


Bald heads
bull necks swelling guts tatts
like inflated babies they bawl
for beer


as a mirror.
The air softens, blurs. Mist
shadows its edge, clouds its surface
like breath.

Wild Geese

Wing beats
measure my dreams;
ink black eyes meet mine.
The water shivers as they pass.

Getting on

My bones
ache each morning.
Fuddled,slow, I stumble
grunting, farting, still drunk with sleep.


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