Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Poetry Stretch - Kyrielle

Back in 2008 we wrote poems in the form of kyrielle. I'd like to do this again, but think we should try a different definition of the form. This one comes from the book Fly With Poetry: An ABC of Poetry, written and illustrated by Avis Harley.
Kyrielle - a kyrielle is divided into couplets, each pair of lines ending with the same word which acts as the refrain.

Here is her example.

How is it the salmon know
where to bury ruby roe?

Something signals when to go;
they journey homeward, rich with roe.

To birthstones of so long ago
the fish return to lay their roe.

Under currents, just below,
the jade green streams are jeweled with roe.

Poem ©Avis Harley. All rights reserved.
So, your challenge this week is to write a kyrielle. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.


  1. What Will I Wear

    What will I wear when day is done,
    When all my skin and flesh are gone?

    How will I know which skills to hone
    When brain and heart are also gone?

    Who will I speak to, in what tone,
    When mouth and ear and throat are gone?

    Who will I love when I’m alone
    And all I know are dead and gone?

    ©2010 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

  2. Technically I think this is a ghazal, not a kyrielle. Wikipedia has an example of a ghazal by Agha Shahid Ali-- you can find it at near the bottom of the page.

  3. Well, I'm not in the mood for rhyme, so here's my variation...


    Maybe this is the day to begin.
    I can sort of see it, but I hesitate.

    Today I will sprout a future
    like green wings. Except--I hesitate.

    If I can just drop that habit,
    life will gleam. I hesitate,

    wanting to keep it and drop
    a different one. To hesitate

    is easy. Should I call you?
    Should I write a poem? Hesitate

    and all is not lost. But something is,
    something isn't born because I hesitate.

    --Kate Coombs, 2010

  4. An Artist Mother’s Plea
    A kyrielle by Nicole Marie Schreiber

    I’ve laid the plan, the plot’s in sight,
    I think it’s time to sit and write.

    But laundry's piled and money’s tight,
    With dinner to make, how can I write?

    With dishes reaching such a height,
    And whiny kids who cry, “Don’t write!”

    Whatever it takes, the muse must fight,
    For artist mamas to write, write, write!

  5. Tried again. But you know, rhyme in the wrong hands can be a dangerous thing...

    Something Fishy

    At breakfast, James does not feel well,
    staring like a mackerel.

    His skin gleams coolly as a shell.
    Fetch water for the mackerel!

    And then, of course, there is a smell
    of ripe and briny mackerel.

    Oh, surely someone's cast a spell
    To turn James to a mackerel.

    Poor boy. I wish that I could tell
    just how to care for mackerel.

    --Kate Coombs, 2010

  6. I looked up kyrielle and found this: The kyrielle is an old French form used originally by the Troubadors during the Renaissance era. It was named after the kyrie, an aspect of the Christian liturgy. Kyrie is a derivative of kyrios, a Greek word meaning "Oh, Lord." (From

    So, I decided to incorporate a little "Lord, have mercy-ness," too!


    Piercing rain, freezing drizzle, glaze
    my vision, blinding me with grays.

    Snow falls. It clings, lingers, and stays.
    Exhaust and dirt turns white to grays.

    Endless nights after cold dank days
    intensify these winter grays.

    Dear Lord, your name I surely praise,
    but please, enough with winter grays.

  7. Here's an alternative form of the kyrielle -- from a collection-in-progress of mine.

    Eubalaena glacialis
    By Steven Withrow

    One day I'll take a whale watch boat
    To see your great descendants float
    And breach up their enormous girth,
    Before they perish from the earth.

    That day I'll hear their right whale song,
    And I will gladly sing along,
    As they intone with mammal mirth,
    Before they perish from the earth.

    And if I'm lucky, I'll have spied
    An infant calf by mother's side,
    Who weighs a ton his day of birth,
    Before they perish from the earth.

    Your skeleton is ghostly white,
    But I will join your faithful fight.
    If humans learn your precious worth,
    You'll never perish from the earth.

  8. Stroke

    It wouldn't be a bother
    to help take care of Mother,

    but she only wants my father
    to get her out of bed. So I said, Mother,

    you really need another
    pair of hands. Well, then my mother

    took a fit of temper and she stuttered
    I should listen to my mother.

    It's easy to misjudge her
    even if she is my mother,

    so I turn aside and mutter,
    the woman is my mother.

  9. Oops. Forgot to type the final couplet.

    What is it now? Oh, brother.
    Lord, have mercy on my mother.

  10. Shema
    By Liz Korba

    Their father said that God was One
    Two brothers – each he called his son
    But One was not to be their fate.
    ”Awaiting Easter – God is Great.”

    I pray not knowing if I’m heard
    Petition, sorrow, praise – Absurd?
    Yet I must hope, that is not my fate
    “Awaiting Easter – God is Great.”

    These words I whisper - this my prayer
    To those who hear, to God, to air
    The truth I crave, I here create
    “Awaiting Easter – God is Great.”

    The spring will come, bring life anew
    I’ll call this fact. I’ll claim this true.
    As real as fear. As real as hate.
    “Awaiting Easter – God is Great.”

  11. Here's mine:
    Winter poems, spring poems, poems for today
    come along, play along, it’s Poetry Friday

    Old favorites, poetry stretch, original word play
    Share one, share two it’s Poetry Friday

    Some interview what poets have to say
    others review the latest on Poetry Friday

    Don’t be shy, linger awhile, and enter the fray
    I’m rounding them up, it’s Poetry Friday

    Leave your link, don’t delay
    Will have them up in a blink, it’s Poetry Friday

  12. Nepalese Monsoon

    Steaming tin roof, sloped and plain
    echoes the drumbeat of the rain

    waiting beneath for the rumble to wane
    while downpours puddle up the rain

    my thoughts jumble in my brain
    scrambled by a deafening onslaught of rain

    a conversation I try to feign
    but give up shouting over the rain