Poetic Form: Monotetra

The monotetra is a poetic form developed by Michael Walker. Here are the basic rules:

  • Comprised of quatrains (four-line stanzas) in tetrameter (four metrical feet) for a total of 8 syllables per line
  • Each quatrain consists of mono-rhymed lines (so each line in the first stanza has the same type of rhyme, as does each line in the second stanza, etc.)
  • The final line of each stanza repeats the same four syllables
  • This poem can be as short as one quatrain and as long as a poet wishes

Personally, I like the rhyme scheme and the repetitive final line of each stanza. I also appreciate the flexibility of this form in terms of how long or short the poem can be.

Here’s my attempt:

“The view from up here”

We found a rock on the hilltop
that we used as reason to stop
and talk about our school’s sock hop–
where music pops, where music pops.

She told me I should learn to dance,
but I was concerned with romance
and wanted to make an advance–
she said, “No chance;” she said, “No chance.”

*****

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*****

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50 thoughts on “Poetic Form: Monotetra

  1. Michael Walker

    I do also want to point out that the monotetra is not restricted to 8 syllables, but is any type of tetrameter. You can use iambic, trochaic, anapestic, etc. so long as it’s tetrameter. I first started describing it as 8 syllables for ease of use of the form by the non-metrical-geek crowd.

  2. Michael Walker

    It has been a great kick for me to read this description and all the comments and poems tried! I had no idea until I googled it recently that my form had taken off so well. Thank you all for doing it honor!

  3. Annie Welch

    Make Believe Poetry

    They praise the words and the rhyme scheme,
    yet there’s no need for high esteem.
    My poem is not what it seems.
    It’s all a dream. It’s all a dream.

    I am nothing more, nothing less
    but a bag of bones in a dress.
    A pretend poet who’s a mess,
    I must confess. I must confess.

    Annie Welch

  4. Sara McNulty

    We Believed

    We were hippies who marched for peace
    with signs, tie-dyed shirts, and police
    We smoked some pot to feel release
    before life ceased, before life ceased.

    The war ended; our boys came home
    Some broken of mind, some of bone
    Others, in terror, died alone
    not fully grown, not fully grown.

    We changed the world, or so we thought
    Our precious votes could not be bought
    Another war would not be fought
    What lesson taught? what lesson taught?

  5. Laura Rectenwald

    When sun surrenders on hot nights
    and darkness descends without fight
    it beckons the fireflies make light
    their flash a sight, their flash a sight!

    All falls silent save for the sound
    of crickets that at dusk abound
    making music till dawn is found
    dancing around, dancing around.

  6. Lidy Wilks

    Surprise

    The news I had to tell that day
    made him say what I knew he’d say.
    Head shaking, he said in dismay,
    "The bills to pay, the bills to pay."

    Having a set will be such joy.
    A sister will be good for Roy.
    Ruining my trance he says, "Oi!"
    "I’d like a boy, I’d like a boy."

  7. Sara McNulty

    Mermaid For A Night

    With things not always as they seem
    I was a mermaid in my dream
    At night I watched a pale moonbeam
    reign supreme, rein supreme

    There was no way to dance with you
    My tail dwelled in the ocean blue;
    Fish afforded my only view,
    what shall I do? what shall I do?

    The answer came when I awoke,
    a sense of liquid in my throat
    a feeling that I’d surely choke
    then felt your poke, then felt your poke.

  8. Phil Jurasinski

    Reflection

    Poetry is a muscle flex–
    Actin and myosin connect–
    Shorten in length to full effect–
    Grow stronger yet, grow stronger yet.

    I disregard training my mind.
    The fibers atrophy with time.
    My clear vision grows slowly blind–
    Where light had shined, where light had shined.

    Maintain my strength three hours a week.
    Exercise my voice, start to speak.
    My eyes adjust, seeing that Greek–
    Borrow technique, borrow technique.

    Like Achilles, I slay Hector,
    Once I have regained my vector.
    A creator, once dissector,
    Now connector, now connector.

  9. Colette D

    Ann ~ Loved your Starry Night, and your trailer was great. Ordered the book for my son (and me)!

    Sara M ~ I have a Dachshund too and you just described my back yard! Cute.

  10. Sara McNulty

    The Digger

    My new Dachshund was bred to dig
    for badgers to give up the jig.
    There are no badgers, small or big
    but it’s his gig, but it’s his gig.

    My lawn looks like a cratered moon
    If he does not stop digging soon
    my backyard will look freshly hewn
    What a maroon, what a maroon!

    Murphy will keep his body toned
    from well-muscled jaw to tail bone
    For every seed of grass we’ve sewn
    He’ll hide a bone, he’ll hide a bone.

  11. Cate Foster

    Her Perspective

    I am not dumb, don’t make me so,
    I freely share all that I know.
    But if you want a vapid show,
    then I will go. Then I will go.

    Literature and classic art
    are so divine, they touch my heart.
    If you can’t handle that I’m smart
    I will depart. I will depart.

  12. ann

    "starry river"

    the river pulls the boat downstream–
    i’ve lost the wheel, the oars, my theme–
    while in the sky the white stars scream
    it’s all a dream, it’s all a dream.

    i wade ashore, desert the boat,
    untie the knots and let it float;
    then wrap myself in Joseph’s coat
    to sing my notes, to sing my notes.

    If anyone’s interested, here’s the book trailer for my new book about the poet Phillis Wheatley…http://youtu.be/633AjEIG2A8

  13. Sara McNulty

    He Did Not Suit Her

    More Monotetras

    The princess promised she would wait
    behind the lace-edged garden gate.
    She warned her suitor, don’t be late,
    but then there’s fate, but then there’s fate.

    Her date approached the palace road,
    he heard a squish; he’d hit a toad.
    With bulging eyes it did explode
    Despair followed, despair followed.

    The suitor did sincerely try
    explaining to the princess why
    he was detained; he did not lie.
    She said, shoo fly, she said, shoo fly.

    This suitor met a lovely girl
    and they got caught up in a whirl.
    The couple named their first born, Pearl,
    who wed an Earl, who wed an Earl.

  14. Marie Elena

    The Color of Teen Angst

    The words are spewed as with regret:
    “Too bad that you are just brunette”
    My heart, it pounds. My palms, they sweat.
    I’m not upset. I’m not upset.

    She says it through her chewing gum,
    “Since you’re a blonde, you must be dumb.”
    Her words could leave me feeling glum.
    I won’t succumb. I won’t succumb.

    I’m sick of being ‘Carrot Top,’
    Or ‘Mighty Red,’ or ‘Ruby Mop.’
    I think I’ll find a beauty shop,
    And make them stop! And make them stop!

  15. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    Ode to Shel Silverstein

    A little bit of self-esteem
    is what I need to reign supreme,
    live out my dream, be just like him:
    Shel Silverstein, Shel Silverstein!

    He wrote about a giving tree,
    I want to be as good as he;
    although I think I’ll never be…
    It’s fine with me; it’s fine with me!

    Of all his fans, I’m number one.
    He wrote the silliest poems, BAR NONE;
    although his time on earth is done…
    His work lives on; his work lives on!

    (c) jh 8/12/10

    Thank you, Walt! ^^

  16. Colette D

    I noticed there were more false starts and reduxes than usual here, thought maybe because of the alignment of the planets or something, then decided to write this, about TONIGHT’S conjunction AND meteor shower:

    ~ Quintuple Conjunction, with Meteors! ~

    (August 12-13, 2010)

    Tonight some bodies will align
    when Venus, Mars, and Saturn shine.
    The Moon will join this show divine:
    A grand design! A grand design!

    They never mention Mercury,
    but he’ll be there for us to see
    (and close enough, if you ask me)
    on this marquee; on this marquee.

    An added bonus to this show:
    The Perseid meteors will flow.
    Their peek tonight will reach plateau.
    Look out below! Look out below!

    { LOOK UP TONIGHT! The planets are in the west at sundown tonight, Aug 12; Perseids visible all night, true peek before dawn tomorrow, Aug 13. }

    “ You know it’s a good night when a beautiful alignment of planets is the SECOND best thing that’s going to happen. ” ~ NASA Science News, Aug 5, 2010

  17. Colette ;D

    Elizabeth ~ Thanks. Your Insomnia is all-too-familiar to me. So you inspired me to write this:

    ~ Burning the All-Night Oil ~

    I make my bed at 10 p.m.;
    my bedtime’s what, but never when.
    I burn the all-night oil and then…
    it’s 10 a.m.! It’s 10 a.m.!

    Thanks again!!!

  18. Colette D

    Cate ~ Thank you. Keep singing your own song! That’s always the best one.

    Karen ~ Thank you very much!

    Sara M ~ Your New Pup made me :)!

    Nancy J ~ Enjoyed your Sudden Storm. I lived in the midwest a few years, but the first night I spent there included a midnight storm with lighning right outside my window. It shocked me awake, I didn’t know where I was, and thought it was The End, or a war! Quite the rude awakening. In time, though, it did become the "Midwest Rule."

    Taylor ~ Awesome Glimpse. I had to read the title again before I could stop scratching my head. Nice!

  19. Salvatore Buttaci

    STAND UP AND BE COUNTED

    For life to have meaning and worth,
    Do learn from the times you are hurt.
    Refuse to be treated like dirt.
    Time for rebirth. Time for rebirth.

    When others make you feel quite small,
    Don’t let them make you take the fall.
    Speak up and show them you walk tall.
    Don’t ever crawl. Don’t ever crawl.

    It’s sad that bullies play their game
    On those who least deserve such pain.
    Because they choose not to complain,
    They live with shame. They live with shame.

    It’s time to set the record straight.
    Right now be master of your fate.
    Learn from your hurts or you will break.
    Time won’t wait. Time won’t wait.

    #

  20. Taylor Graham

    A FLEETING GLIMPSE

    That Bighorn ram at dawn, alone –
    no time for camera, no cell phone
    to catch his image for my own.
    It turned to stone. It turned to stone.

    How capture in a word, a line
    the shiver of a full-moon shine,
    a crimson trail-side columbine,
    to make it mine, to make it mine?

    A passing thought I sought to nurse –
    was it a blessing or a curse?
    A poem is a spendthrift purse.
    Another verse! Another verse!

  21. Laurie Kolp

    STAY

    You swing just like a metronome-
    back you won’t leave, forth you run home.
    A mind made up with fear will roam-
    remember Rome, remember Rome.

    We played and laughed the day away,
    at night we danced our love relay,
    Palatine Hill, that quaint cafe-
    why won’t you stay, why won’t you stay?

    MOM

    She sits around and thinks all day,
    a cigarette she puffs away.
    Her mind is black, the smoke is gray-
    it’s not Doomsday, it’s not Doomsday.

    The phone sits close and calls her name,
    I hear it ring this childish game.
    Alone no more she sounds the same-
    from thee I came, from thee I came.

  22. Sara McNulty

    Here are my revisions.

    Monotetras

    And Life Passes by

    There are things you can never learn,
    a chat with Mom will leave you burned
    concerning praise that you have earned,
    you will be spurned, you will be spurned.

    A woman filled with jealousy
    of all women she cannot be
    will never know she holds the key;
    she cannot see, she cannot see.

    New Pup In Town

    The new pooch seem to have a brain
    he trails sis like a ball and chain,
    studying rocks she’s soiled or stained,
    yet he’s not trained, yet he’s not trained.

    The puppy’s ball has a shrill sound
    We hide it when he’s not around.
    His sense of smell is keen, that hound,
    The ball is found, the ball is found.

  23. Sara McNulty

    Here’s two so far!

    Monotetras

    And Life Passes by

    There are things you can never learn,
    a chat with Mom will leave you burned
    concerning feats you have achieved,
    no praise received, no praise received.

    A woman filled with jealousy
    of all women she cannot be
    will never realize all she holds
    a life of gold, a life of gold.

    New Pup In Town

    The new puppy has a sister
    he follows `round, scared to miss her.
    He studies rocks she’s soiled or stained,
    yet he’s not trained, yet he’s not trained.

    The puppy’s ball has a shrill squeak
    We hide it when he is asleep.
    His sense of smell is keen, that hound,
    The ball is found, the ball is found.

  24. Elizabeth Johnson

    Insomnia

    Stay in bed and turn off the light,
    It’s time to try to sleep tonight.
    It’s not easy, may not feel right-
    Oh, stay and fight! Oh, stay and fight!

    Thoughts and ideas dance in my mind;
    Why is it so hard to unwind?
    Why does my body seem resigned
    To lag behind, to lag behind?

    I lie awake and wish to sleep,
    No more to see the clockhands creep
    And time go by, and counting sheep
    To fall asleep, to fall asleep.

  25. Cate Foster

    Remember when we got along
    and we would sing each other’s song?
    I wonder when it all went wrong
    But I am strong, but I am strong.

    The song I sing now is my own.
    I am not scared to be alone,
    and have learned what I’ve always known
    I found my home, I found my home.

    Cate

    Colette – I really like your poem about the clock.
    Bruce – alligators are my favorite animal, so I love to see them mentioned. It’s a fun poem.

  26. Bruce Niedt

    Here’s one I wrote a while ago that appeared in the online journal Sunken Lines. It’s very similar to the "monotetra" except the last line repeats the first line of each stanza, instead of the repreated four-syllable phrase (the last stanza doesn’t repeat lines, though) – it was sort of my own "nonce" form:

    Alligators Can’t Kiss

    It’s a fact: alligators can’t kiss –
    sharp teeth and a long snout like this
    make their oral affection remiss.
    Alligators aren’t able to kiss.

    What’s more, armadillos can’t hug –
    they’d rather roll up, tight and snug,
    so attackers walk off with a shrug.
    Armadillos just don’t want to hug.

    And centipedes, you know, cannot dance –
    legs’ll tangle; they don’t stand a chance.
    So forget any ballroom romance!
    Centipedes don’t know how to dance.

    So that brings this poem to me –
    I kiss and I hug admirably!
    But dancing, I can’t guarantee.
    Still, that’s not too bad, two for three.

  27. Frankie

    Howdy folks, I thought I would try this form, Hope you like it…

    Forms

    I like to write poetry free
    So free verse is the form for me
    Counting syllables bad for me
    So you will see, so you will see

    Eight syllables on every line
    Making the end of the line rhyme
    Now that’s how I make this rhyme shine
    In all eight lines, in all eight lines

    This form has no end so I will
    Write it until I’ve had my fill
    This might be the end, I’m for real
    I’ve had my fill, I’ve had my fill

  28. Walt Wojtanik

    CLEVELAND ROCKS!

    Tutankhamen need not apply
    to that "pyramid" by-the-by,
    under a sunny Cleveland sky.
    He’s not the guy; he’s not the guy.

    Enough kings there to fill the role,
    the best of R&B; soul,
    the Kings of Pop and Rock and Roll,
    tops of the poll; tops of the poll.

    If you can wield your "axe" with pride,
    if you may or may not have died,
    your music will get you inside,
    enjoy the ride; enjoy the ride.

    As part of a group or solo,
    your legend will shine at the show,
    Rock & roll; the right way to go
    to make your dough; to make your dough.

    As Halls of Fame go, this one rocks!
    The names inside will knock your socks
    so hop, and rock around the clock.
    Cleveland does rock; Cleveland does rock!

  29. Nancy J

    Hmmm, a redux in the worx here too. Not enough sleep I guess. Forgot to make the changes I wrote in my notebook.

    SUDDEN STORM

    A midnight storm surprising all,
    as thunder cracks and hailstones fall.
    The sirens have a dance to call,
    Tornado Ball! Tornado Ball!

    The Midwest rule is to prepare
    in case you’re taken unawares.
    Grab laptop, glasses, bag from chair
    and run downstairs, and run downstairs.

    From basement hiding place I hear
    the sounds of chaos circling near.
    Until it’s safe, till it’s "All Clear."
    I’ll stay right here. I’ll stay right here.

    The wind has died, the storm is gone.
    Down trees and branches greet the dawn.
    There’s storm debris on every lawn.
    Clean up, move on. Clean up, move on.

  30. Nancy J

    SUDDEN STORM

    A midnight storm surprising all,
    as thunder cracks and hailstones fall.
    A wind that makes the sirens call.
    Tornado Ball! Tornado Ball!

    The Midwest rule is to prepare.
    In case you’re taken unawares.
    Grab laptop, glasses, bag from chair
    and run downstairs. And run downstairs.

    From basement hiding place I hear
    the sounds of chaos circling near.
    Until it’s safe, till it’s "All Clear."
    I’ll stay right here. I’ll stay right here.

    The wind has died, the storm is gone.
    Down trees and branches greet the dawn.
    There’s storm debris on every lawn.
    Clean up, move on. Clean up, move on.

  31. Colette D

    RJ ~ Good luck. That happened here. The bootup sector was fried; couldn’t even get in! Hubby found a website that allowed us to restore all files, only $79 (compared to $400+ from "computer nerds or doctors"), and you only had to pay if it recovered your data. Rescued tons of writing and pics, and learned to be more diligent on backing up!

  32. RJ Clarken

    This is such a cool form – I just gotta try it!
    (Sorry I haven’t been around much, but my desktop computer’s hard drive got fried and I’m typing now on my wee netbook. Thank goodness my darling hubster knows more about computers than the average bear = and hopefully he can restore my writings and other stuff. Hmmm…might make a good topic to whine – errrrr…I mean poem about!)

  33. Colette D

    ~ Doing Time ~

    Your life sentence you rehearse
    in monotetrametric verse.
    To serve a sentence any worse
    would take a hearse; would take a hearse.

    But execution seems a bore
    so you find comfort to the core
    to think that you could up your score
    one victim more; one victim more.

  34. Colette D

    ~ Counterclockwise ~

    I really want to kick the clock;
    to stifle all that ticking talk;
    to concentrate on taking stock –
    no tick, no tock; no tick, no tock.

    I really want to choke the chime;
    to strangle its insistent rime;
    to carry out untimely crime –
    to kill the time; to kill the time.

  35. Walt Wojtanik

    A SUCKER FOR FORMS

    I sit here rather pathetic,
    thinking of rhymes, so poetic,
    not falling prey to rhetoric,
    It makes me sick; it makes me sick.

    But, such is the way I do choose,
    to write of my life, no real news,
    in all forms I find for my muse,
    I won’t refuse; I won’t refuse.

    And so with my pen poised to write,
    and a writer’s block worth the fight,
    the rhymes which I surely will cite,
    All feel so right; all feel so right!

  36. Walt Wojtanik

    A SUCKER FOR FORMS

    I sit here rather pathetic,
    thinking of rhymes, so poetic,
    not falling prey to rhetoric,
    the thought of such things makes me sick.

    But, such is the way I do choose,
    to write of my life, no real news,
    in all forms I find for my muse,
    no poetry will I refuse.

    And so with my pen poised to write,
    and a writer’s block worth the fight,
    the rhymes which I surely will cite,
    All feel so right; all feel so right!

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