WD Poetic Form Challenge: Cascade Poem

For this Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge, I’m asking poets to
write a cascade poem. The cascade poem is a great form for poets who are intimidated by meter and rhymes, because neither are necessary for this form. Click here to read my earlier post on how to write a cascade poem.

As in previous challenges, the winner will be featured in a future issue of Writer’s Digest (the February 2011 issue to be precise).

The length of your cascade poem will be determined by the number of lines in your first stanza, since each line in that first stanza is the final line in each stanza afterward. (Again, click on my earlier post if you need an example.)

Click here to read the general rules for the WD Poetic Form Challenge.

The deadline for the cascade poem challenge is November 1, 2010. Or roughly two weeks. So don’t sit around waiting for inspiration to strike. Get poeming now!

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76 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Cascade Poem

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  2. Willy

    WD Poetic Form Challenge: Cascade
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    MONSTERS, SHADOWS AND FEAR

    Monsters cast large shadows
    which cause such intense fear.
    Please help slay my terror.

    The Unknown creates thoughts
    of terrifying beasts;
    monsters cast large shadows.

    Seeds of uncertainty
    breed miasmatic stews
    which cause such intense fear.

    Hold. Assess. Breathe deeply.
    Make my fear disappear.
    Please help slay my terror.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

    We never know
    how well off we are
    until we hear the trials and
    tribulations of others.

    When blind-sided by Fate,
    while ambling through life, all
    aspects of living going smoothly,
    we never know

    what’s going to jump
    out of the bushes along the
    trail, to tell us
    how well-off we are,

    despite our self-talk about
    how things could not be worse.
    Let’s whip ourselves and cry, but only
    until we hear the trials

    surrounding us, incessant murmurs,
    in the lives of acquaintances.
    We must maintain high awareness of
    tribulations of others.

    W

  3. Cate Foster

    SLAYING THE DRAGON

    Once upon a time,
    before love was a four-letter word,
    I believed in fairy tale endings.

    Even after I outgrew the notion
    that knights rescued fair maidens,
    "once upon a time"

    had a hopeful magic; second
    and (gasp!) third chances were unimaginable
    before love was a four-letter word.

    For quite some time, I childishly believed.
    Before I met you,
    I believed in fairy tale endings.

  4. Margaret Crawford

    I hope it’s ok to do more than one.

    Heron

    She watched the heron gobble up the fish
    and thought, supply will meet demand come Spring.
    As sure as ignorance catches youth off guard
    who only hear the call to go again,
    they all forget the lessons of the Fall.

    “This war can’t last” he tried to reassure
    her fears, and patted roughly at her arm
    but missed, and broke the dish HE made in school,
    of birds and carp, his mother’s favorite pool.
    She watched the heron gobble up the fish.

    She didn’t believe a word he said, of course,
    but nodded. Every lie he told, he told
    Himself. And each cold season was the last
    with nothing left to fight about. She sighed
    and thought, supply will meet demand come Spring.

    He quickly used his hand to sweep the glass
    while listing things that should be done, to do
    before the snows. A shard stuck, bleeding red
    on goldfish orange, surprising him, like snow,
    as sure as ignorance catches youth off guard.

    How many times she cautioned Him? Too soon
    to skate, the ice will crack and you’ll be wet
    from foot to waist, then laughed as He ignored
    her words, with friend in tow, two headstrong boys
    who only hear the call to go again.

    “Dumb fish” he said as one more fell to heron
    sword. “you’d think, in Spring, the big would teach the
    small of dangers yet to come as they grow
    large.” … And yet, they never do, she thought.
    They all forget the lessons of the Fall.

  5. Andrew Kreider

    Halloween

    After dark on Halloween
    She stiffly gave to all the kids
    A tract about the fires of Hell
    Thinking grape juice would make them Baptists.

    Perhaps I’m just naïve
    But it would not occur to me
    To hand out day-glo propaganda
    After dark on Halloween.

    So when she opened up her door
    And smiled at us invitingly
    I just assumed that it was candy that
    She stiffly gave to all the kids.

    But no – more absurd than any
    Costume made of scarves and silly hats
    She took the chance to threaten them with
    A tract about the fires of Hell.

    At evening’s end, what caught my heart
    Was how the children laughed about this saint:
    Her Christianity was just a joke –
    Thinking grape juice would make them Baptists!

  6. DJ Kostrich

    When I write

    When I write,
    I am tempted
    To spin words
    Endlessly
    Without thinking.

    But my brain bullies me
    Into censorship.
    Backspace is
    the most abused key
    When I write.

    I think: is this wise?
    What if I’ve deleted
    Something extraordinary?
    Should I hit Undo?
    I am tempted.

    My thoughts catch and stutter.
    Perseverance, they say
    Is a trait found in kings.
    It seems it is also needed
    To spin words.

    Each yesterday hangs off me
    Like a wet wool coat.
    Still I reach for the crown,
    Though I am dripping
    Endlessly.

    On the day I become King,
    I will hang up my hands
    Next to the coats.
    That tomorrow will be spent
    Without Thinking.

    — DJ Kostrich

  7. Darrell Bennett

    Cascade of emptiness
    I crumble into nothingness

    I stare into the darkened void of light

    The boy who sits and wonders

    His dreams are as empty as his heart

    Hes too carefree all on his own

    And when you try to reach my heart, enclosed

    I crumble into nothingness.

    Turned to dust , pushed clean away

    Scattering into the corner out of shy-ish plight as

    I stare into the darkened void of light.

    I look at it in a daze

    Only to find out that i’m strangely amazed by

    The boy who sits and wonders

    Darrell Bennett

  8. AC Leming

    This one’s for the season.

    HAUNT

    I hope to haunt you forever.
    Uncertain, my intent wavers
    in the breeze of your indifference.

    Yet you bar the door and lock the windows,
    afraid I can enter without permission.
    I hope to haunt you forever.

    So I scratch at barred windows, whisper through keyholes.
    My sibilant hum echos through empty halls.
    Uncertain, my intent wavers

    as you wrap another life, another wife round you.
    My pictures haunt unused rooms. My dust drifts
    in the breeze of your indifference.

  9. Margaret Crawford

    Eventide

    I stand as waves of eventide wash me
    and feel the noisy day, and days, fall silent,
    then away as piece by piece unravels
    from the patchwork quilt I carefully had made.

    What stories! What heroic poems I know,
    and bedtime songs I sing with perfect pitch
    and clarity, each stitch reminds, remains
    from the patchwork quilt I carefully had made.

    I tried to mend it over time but then,
    but then…but then I brushed, and smoothed and crushed
    and picked and snipped and ripped and bunched it down
    then away as piece by piece unravels.

    It’s not important anyway, this thing,
    this cloth, this tattered rag. The scent of men
    and children gone, I push it to the edge
    and feel the noisy day, and days, fall silent.

    The ocean feels familiar now, I close
    my eyes, the salt and spray make damp this quilt
    I found and wrapped my arms against the chill.
    I stand as waves of eventide wash me.

    Peg Crawford

  10. Mary

    Along the Path

    While walking along the path today,
    And watching the dancing leaves,
    I somehow lost my way

    I watched the dappled sunshine fall
    In abstract patterns at my feet
    While walking along the path today

    Beneath my feet the path diverged;
    I paused, feeling the wind on my face
    And watching the dancing leaves

    With the day coming to a close
    And purple shadows growing long,
    I somehow lost my way

  11. Linda H.

    Mi piache (I like it)

    Do you have any idea how sexy you are
    when you are learning the Italian language?
    Mi piache, my dear. Mi piache.

    Even a single spoken word like “dancing” sounds
    so beautiful rolling off your tongue. Ballare.
    Do you have any idea how sexy you are?

    You say Prendo un bicchiere di vino rosso.
    You want red wine, but I only thirst for you
    when you are learning the Italian language.

    I help you practice your new vocabulary,
    wishing I were those words on your lips.
    Mi piache, my dear. Mi piache.

  12. Mari Cohen

    sheaves of jewel-toned paper at the craft store
    each color gliding into the next, smooth as a staircase,
    enough to fill scrapbooks.

    I’d like the time to bathe the underside of photo paper
    in white flaky glue and browse critically through
    sheaves of jewel-toned paper at the craft store

    somewhere I have stacks of slightly glossy pictures
    edges sharp and untrimmed as they cling to one another
    each color gliding into the next, smooth as a staircase

    but for now I can only think of them yellowing away
    slipping through the crevices of my fingers to land with all the moments I’ll forget
    enough to fill scrapbooks.

  13. Cara Holman

    Under the Harvest Moon

    Windfall apples strewn on the lawn—
    under the harvest moon, again
    chinook salmon find their way home.

    The steady insistence of rain
    thrums a tattoo on sodden leaves—
    windfall apples strewn on the lawn.

    A leaf, a branch, a silhouette—
    who now hovers in dark shadows,
    under the harvest moon, again?

    Swimming upstream, always upstream
    (how can they know which way to go?)
    chinook salmon find their way home.

  14. Kimiko Martinez

    D’oh. Missed a ".
    Sorry for the messy code!

    MISS RUBY

    If you’re going to walk down golden roads
    you should definitely do it in style.
    Thank god you found me.

    That gingham smock did nothing
    for you, honey. You need some pizzazz
    if you’re going to walk down golden roads.

    But you’ve got the right idea with
    the little lapdog. When accessorizing with canines,
    you should definitely do it in style.

    Still, a pair of dazzling heels is what
    you really need to turn heads in the Emerald City.
    Thank god you found me.

  15. Kimiko Martinez

    <a href="http://neversayacommonplacething.blogspot.com/2010/10/poetic-asides-cascade-poemwe-write.html>MISS RUBY</a>

    If you’re going to walk down golden roads
    you should definitely do it in style.
    Thank god you found me.

    That gingham smock did nothing
    for you, honey. You need some pizzazz
    if you’re going to walk down golden roads.

    But you’ve got the right idea with
    the little lapdog. When accessorizing with canines,
    you should definitely do it in style.

    Still, a pair of dazzling heels is what
    you really need to turn heads in the Emerald City.
    Thank god you found me.

  16. Tracy Davidson

    My Name is Boo

    Those children are out there again,
    staring up at the house.
    I don’t know what fascinates them so much.
    I’ve been shut up here for 20 years
    and it depresses the hell out of me.

    My brother doesn’t like them hanging about,
    thinks I encourage them.
    When he comes home from town sometimes
    he frowns and mutters: "Dammit,
    those children are out there again."

    But they’re not doing us any harm.
    I like the games they play, like the tyre
    the little girl rolled up to the porch in,
    where just for a second, startled, she sat there
    staring up at the house.

    They sure stare at our house a lot.
    The boy came all the way up to the door once.
    I nearly spoke to him but he ran away.
    He looked frightened. Not sure why.
    I don’t know what fascinates them so much.

    It’s no different from the other houses in this street.
    Except perhaps it juts out a little on the corner.
    And we tend to keep the shutters closed.
    It’s a little dark and gloomy, like a jail cell I saw once.
    I’ve been shut up here for 20 years.

    The children were in danger last night, I sensed it,
    smelt the evil in the air.
    I helped them, I think. Can’t remember clearly.
    My brother was cross, said I mustn’t see them again,
    and it depresses the hell out of me.

  17. Michelle Hed

    Signs

    Walking in the snow
    a single red feather –
    a spot of color in a barren landscape.

    The first snowfall of the season
    means warm hat and woolen mittens, for I’m going
    walking in the snow.

    I giggle with glee,
    catch snowflakes on my tongue and spy
    a single red feather.

    Months later, I’m paging through a book
    trying to forget your death and I find a red feather,
    a spot of color in a barren landscape.

  18. barbara young

    Did I, somehow, displace the house?

    Did I, somehow, displace the house?
    Did I subvocalize some arcane apprentice spell
    erasing all but this field of dust, this forest of debris
    with hypnagogic sorcery

    One reads so indiscriminately in dreams.
    I turned a page and stepped inside
    a shed, two-holer, kennel, midden.
    Did I, somehow, displace the house?

    On the way to re-create the primal chaos
    what cryptic grammar did I use?
    While I fantasized an ordered life
    did I subvocalize some arcane apprentice spell?

    I wanted to draw the perfect angles of diamond window panes
    and smooth the cherry curves of the new sleigh bed,
    but mishandled the wand or stylus,
    erasing all but this field of dust, this forest of debris.

    Did I replace my blue porch home
    with trash heaped on molding dishes,
    or did it gallop on the wind pure as a hero
    with hypnagogic sorcery?

  19. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    I rode a poem…

    I rode a poem from here to Spain
    I rode it fast through fog and rain
    Fell off and got back on it

    Many a soul told me to quit
    Claiming it wasn’t worth the trip
    I rode a poem from here to Spain

    I galloped at an even pace
    A two-beat stride, a rush, a race
    I rode it fast through fog and rain

    To near perfection, my poem I rode
    through every hurdle, the less traveled road
    Fell off and got back on it

    (c) jh 10/27/10

  20. Andrew Kreider

    Hold me gently, friend

    Some things are hard to leave behind
    Like compliments
    Or angry words
    It’s scary to let go

    As this new year
    Stretches wide before me
    I want to enter unencumbered yet
    Some things are hard to leave behind

    The inner pressure that proclaims
    Because you can, therefore you must
    Reminds me why it is I don’t
    Like compliments

    They are the ugly twin
    Of soul-destroying criticism
    Which wedges insecurity with guile
    Or angry words

    Tonight I will unfurl the shades
    Staring into naked light
    Hold me gently, friend,
    It’s scary to let go.

  21. Janice Sheridan

    My attempt at a cascade:

    “Chaotic Love”

    Things are not as they appear to be.
    I see color; you see black and white
    I see the words, but to you it is all chaos.

    Why do you look shocked?
    It isn’t a mystery that
    things are not as they appear to be.

    We are just like magnets,
    Opposites always seem to attract
    I see color; you see black and white.

    I suppose, then, what we have really is
    true love worthy of a sonnet. Yet again,
    I see the words, but to you it is all chaos.

  22. Karen Legg

    This is the first time I’ve entered one of these contests. Here’s my entry:

    In Order

    First I need to put my books in order.
    So much can slip away in a second.
    Now I will lose the third piece of my soul.

    So many have already fled. Evacuation
    falls to each, according to his abilities.
    First I need to put my books in order.

    The streets have become red rivers.
    Men with guns no longer cover their faces.
    So much can slip away in a second.

    My husband, killed for the knife he carried.
    My daughter, taken for their evil hunger.
    Now I will lose the third piece of my soul.

  23. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    Starving Artist

    A starving artist? Bet you can’t tell
    Her chubby thighs hide it quite well
    She’s a poet in the making

    Her favorite meal is rice and beans
    A poem-atic, it’s in her genes
    A starving artist? Bet you can’t tell

    Reciting works of Collins and Keats
    A skinny poet lurks underneath
    Her chubby thighs hide it quite well

    Although her poems won’t make a sale
    She’ll persevere, she will prevail
    She’s a poet in the making

    (c) jh 10/26/10

  24. Laurie Kolp

    Questions

    When will this downturn go away?
    How did the economy get so slow?
    Will she reach the mountain peak?

    She walks around in Crocs all day,
    tattered jeans and shirts that fray;
    when will this downturn go away?

    Her home down-sized two months ago,
    long gone are Starbucks cup of Joe;
    how did the economy get so slow?

    The husband’s job security weak,
    her dreams, they tumble as we speak;
    will she reach the mountain peak?

  25. Laurie Kolp

    **Sorry~ This is the correct version of The Valentine’s Day from Hell:

    The Valentine’s Day from Hell

    A chocolate heart-shaped cake she baked at noon
    By six she sat outside the jail and smoked
    Her mind a whirlwind of doubt at seven
    By ten all hopes and dreams went out the door

    Their first Valentine’s Day as man and wife
    She wanted to be memorable, filled with love
    So she planned a special dinner surprise
    A chocolate heart-shaped cake she baked at noon

    The call turned her world upside-down
    He had been arrested and thrown behind bars
    Adrenaline fueled her car down the highway
    By six she sat outside the jail and smoked

    Was this the man she married months ago?
    How could he be charged with burglary?
    The lies about having a job resurfaced
    Her mind a whirlwind of doubt at seven

    The bail bondsman lived across the way
    An old woman let her in, offered cookies
    A tsunami of tears outpoured with her heart
    By ten all hopes and dreams went out the door

  26. Laurie Kolp

    The Valentine’s Day from Hell

    A chocolate heart-shaped cake she baked at noon
    By six she sat outside the jail and smoked
    Her mind a whirlwind of doubt at seven
    At ten all hopes and dreams went out the door

    Their first Valentine’s Day as man and wife
    She wanted to be memorable, filled with love
    So she planned a special dinner surprise
    A chocolate heart-shaped cake she baked at noon

    The call turned her world upside-down
    He had been arrested and thrown behind bars
    Adrenaline fueled her car down the highway
    By six she sat outside the jail and smoked

    Was this the man she married months ago?
    How could he be charged with burglary?
    The lies about having a job resurfaced
    Her mind a whirlwind of doubt at seven

    The bail bondsman lived across the way
    An old woman let her in, offered cookies
    A tsunami of tears outpoured with her heart
    At ten all hopes and dreams went out the door

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