Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Three Letter Word Poems

To villanelle and back, an article in James Fenton's poetry masterclass, looks at a variety of forms and the challenges they pose. I particularly love this excerpt.
John Fuller, in response to a competition challenge, set out to write a poem consisting only of three-letter words. And in order to add to the interest, he decided on a form in which there were three three-letter words per line, and the lines came in groups of three.
What an interesting idea! Here is how the resulting poem begins.
The Kiss
by John Fuller

Who are you
You who may
Die one day

Who saw the
Fat bee and
The owl fly

Read the poem in its entirety (scroll down the page to find it).
This amazing poem has me wondering what kind of poems can be crafted using only three-letter words. That is your challenge. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.


  1. Day

    And she saw
    the sun fly,
    red and big,
    her own toy.
    Day was lit.
    She ran out,
    joy her way.

    —Kate Coombs, 2015,
    all rights reserved


    I don’t know
    Where to go
    When Daddy yells
    At his demons.
    Once again he
    Lost another battle
    With Jim Beam,
    His long time
    Rival since childhood.
    Mom’s recovering in
    Their bedroom from
    Two double fisted
    Crosses to both
    Sides of her
    Bruised visage, I
    Spot a flask
    Of his opponent
    On the table.
    “Hey,” I say
    Pointing toward salvation
    “Is that full?”
    When he turns,
    Picks it up,
    I bolt out
    the door, Surging
    into daylight, refusing
    To answer the
    Bell for Round 2.

    (c) Charles Waters 2015 all rights reserved.

  3. Love love love this challenge, Tricia (I've been working on a collection of poems written using only the 200 most common words in English for more than 10 years now!). And Kate, I feel like you and John Fuller have written the two best 3x3x3 poems already. But here's my try, starting with day also:

    New Day

    Let fly now,
    hen; hop, lay
    egg. Low, cow,

    eat hay. Dog,
    dig and wag;
    pig, hog the

    mud. Bee, hum;
    ram and ewe,
    coo. Cat nip

    rat; ass, bay.
    New day,
    ask not for

    any new way!

  4. Just saw a place where I need a revision--but it's bedtime now!

  5. Charles, what a sadly powerful metaphor, especially the last line! Thanks, Heidi--I like your farm! And revision makes for a good new day. :)


  6. How. . .

    How can you
    not joy
    red sky,
    map its sun,
    its dew lap.

    How can you
    not joy
    sky eve,
    owl fly,


    Jane Yolen ©2015 All rights reserved

  7. Music

    Not the she, nor the son,
    nor sea, nor air, nor owl eye,
    far off can see the how, the why,
    but the one try,
    --for the ear--, Let fly
    the din the day
    all men hum!

  8. Two-day Rag (3x3x4)

    One day old,
    two day new.
    One day all,
    two day few.

    One day pig,
    two day ham.
    One day gin,
    two day jam.

    One day hip,
    two day hop.
    One day yay,
    two day not.

    One day rum.
    two day gay.
    One day sot,
    two day pay.

    One day tip,
    two day tap.
    One day zit,
    two day zap.

    One day fit,
    two day fat.
    One day sit,
    two day splat!