WD Poetic Form Challenge: Quatern

A week ago, I explained the quatern. It’s a fun form that includes a refrain but not too many rules beyond that. (Click here to learn more about the quatern.)

Anyway, I thought the quatern would be a fun form for tackling another WD Poetic Form Challenge.

Anyone can participate by pasting their quatern(s) in the comments below. After the deadline (11:59 p.m., March 4, 2012, Atlanta GA time), I’ll go through and select a winning poem, which will be used as an example of the form in a future copy of Writer’s Digest magazine (I suspect it’ll be the July/August issue).

Everything about these challenges are free. They’re just a good way to have fun poeming and possibly get some national recognition in Writer’s Digest!


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122 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Quatern

  1. Kevin DeRossett

    I’m getting too old for this crap.
    It’s getting too dark in this house.
    Why can’t I stop self-destructing?
    Who set all the old beliefs free?

    I won’t listen to those who say
    I’m getting too old for this crap.
    What do they know about living?
    Light me up one more cigarette.

    It’s cancer, so what do you care?
    It’s not like my lungs tried to say:
    “I’m getting too old for this crap.”
    I promise I’ll stop tomorrow.

    Promise I’ll stop soon or later.
    If not, then there’s one thing I’ll do
    I’ll do it once more, then I’ll say
    I’m getting too old for this. (crap!)

  2. Andy Sewina

    Rock ‘n’ roll no no it don’t rock
    It stops an’ starts and moans an’ groans
    It comes an’ goes and groans an’ moans
    And that’s just down the telephone

    So I tune the radio in
    Rock ‘n’ roll no no it don’t rock
    It sizzles and giggles like pop
    Snap crackle an’ DJ please stop

    MC Spanner undo my nut
    I ain’t got time for no short cut
    Rock ‘n’ roll no no it don’t rock
    When you scritch it like that scratch it

    Spin the sounds beat box back beat rap
    Call it a wrap rewind the clock
    It’s time to bury the hatchet
    Rock ‘n’ roll no no it don’t rock

  3. madcapmaggie

    Do You Have Any Idea What I’d Really Like to Type in the Damn Window?

    Type the words in the window below
    to prove you a not a spam bot.
    Letters are twisted, can’t read them
    not even with my glasses on.

    Bang on the keypad but do not
    type the words in the window below.
    New words appear in place of old,
    But I can’t read these words either.

    Let the computer speak the words.
    Lousy speakers, so still cannot
    type the words in the window below.
    I am running out of patience.

    My comment was long and thoughtful,
    I will have to type it over
    if I leave the page and do not
    type the words in the window below.

    Margaret Fieland

  4. madcapmaggie

    Really, It was Quite A Small Fire

    I sit down and pick up my pen
    while wondering what I should write.
    Haven’t found much inspiration.
    Mind’s shining light’s dim, not bright.

    Jump from my chair, pace round the den.
    I sit down and pick up my pen.
    but inspiration is fleeting
    My ego’s taking a beating.

    Go into the kitchen for dinner.
    in hopes later on I’ll find when
    I sit down and pick up my pen,
    a brainstorm will strike, a winner.

    Right in the middle of cooking,
    come the words for which I’m yearning
    Never mind dinner is burning,
    I sit down and pick up my pen.

    Margaret Fieland

  5. Marcella Franseen

    I used to believe in kisses,
    sweet like the red candy apple
    we shared at the fair that first time,
    our mouths pressed, sticky and cherry.

    Remember that summer beach trip?
    I used to believe in kisses
    walking in the waves, your lips hot
    and salty, your hand soft in mine.

    And those nights on the porch eating
    ice cream, fireflies swirling our heads,
    I used to believe in kisses
    as cold and soft as new wet snow.

    But kisses are too easily
    given with eyes shut, and moments
    become memories, become dreams.
    I used to believe in kisses.

  6. Jane Shlensky

    With Cats

    We’re nicer since adopting cats
    who taught us to talk kitty kind,
    that raised voices are scratchy mean,
    that tenderness can make us purr.

    Not that we were so bad, but now
    we’re nicer since adopting cats;
    we laugh more and scold with no heat,
    accepting their catness, and ours.

    We’ve learned an unrelenting stare’s
    power, to claim and be claimed, for
    we’re nicer since adopting cats,
    our hands petting, our sounds cooing.

    They’re training us each day to see
    the world new, to love naps, to play,
    to cuddle, to eat well, glad that
    we’re nicer since adopting cats.

  7. Jane Shlensky

    Spring Snow

    When all is blanketed in snow—
    the mounded shrubs and leaning trunks,
    the budding trees and daffodils—
    such peace smooths out and stills the earth.

    The rising sun gilds rolling hills
    when all is blanketed in snow,
    softening nature’s rough edges,
    reflecting daybreak’s rose and gold.

    Melting light spreads sparkles, as limbs
    on bowed knees drop their heavy loads.
    When all is blanketed with snow,
    we pause, each breath fleeting, lovely.

    Flitting and foraging, song birds,
    their feathers puffed against the cold,
    accent this bright day’s warmth and glow
    when all is blanketed in snow.

  8. JasmineJavid

    I’m a little intimidated by all the great responses, but here is my attempt at a quatern:


    Thanks for teaching me about life.
    To you I’m forever indebted.
    I’m newly impassioned to find
    my way. Outcast, I’m a student

    cum laude from the school of hard-knocks.
    Thanks for teaching me about life;
    for showing me honesty is
    the rarest of gems. The golden

    rule does not apply. In order to
    breathe, I don’t need air, don’t need trees.
    Thanks for teaching me about life.
    You taught me sex, drugs, and cash are

    essential to pass this garbled
    course. Lying, cheating, stealing are
    tried and true methods for success.
    Thanks for teaching me about life.

  9. Jules H


    It turned out not to matter much
    I wasted time on details, pushed
    by fear I’d bungle or lose track
    of something that was critical

    And even when I lost my job
    it turned out not to matter much
    I found another, and besides
    I learned who my friends really were

    A marriage of true opposites:
    one lively, one solitary
    It turned out not to matter much
    We clung together through the storms

    Now looking back I see the grace
    that mortared bricks of turbulence
    and built a solid wall. The grief?
    It turned out not to matter much

  10. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    The sinister man on Grace Street

    The sinister man on Grace Street
    sits on his dimly lit front porch,
    curls his upper lip and fixates
    on her as she comes home from work.

    I wish I could warn her about
    the sinister man. On Grace Street,
    people go about their business,
    very few speak or say hello.

    Most of the men stand in the cor-
    ner looking just as scary as
    the sinister man on Grace Street.
    Must be my imagination

    but I don’t see her anymore.
    I’m scared for her, because today,
    the police came and arrested
    the sinister man on Grace Street.

  11. RJ Clarken


    I cannot tell a lie. I shall
    thus swear I have a rationale
    for tales I spin, like singing for
    dear Pavarotti. (Tosca score.)

    I once knew Fermat and Pascal,
    I cannot tell a lie. I shall
    vow that glue was my invention.
    I stole jewels, and did I mention

    I thrice have ghosted books of fame
    like ‘Emma,’ just to drop a name.
    I cannot tell a lie. I shall
    provide some honesty. (Not now.)

    I swam across the Bering Sea.
    I entertained the Queen at tea.
    Warhol once said, “Girl, you’re…wow!”
    I cannot tell a lie? I shall.


  12. taylor graham


    Who knows what a tree imagines
    when rainclouds gather like ravens,
    thunder-croaking above the hills,
    and the creek waits inside its banks.

    What do the stones think, bedded deep?
    Who knows what a tree imagines
    when the heavens shake and rattle?
    This is how springtime always comes,

    with winds to make bare branches dance
    to breaking – limbs about to leaf.
    Who knows what a tree imagines
    after so many years of storm –

    its roots reaching out for water,
    hoping the thirsty soil will hold
    to the hillside; as if each stone
    could know what a tree imagines.

  13. Michael Grove


    Refrain from participating
    in negative discussions. Don’t
    allow others to drag you down
    in dramatic fashion. Compose

    yourself and remember, always
    refrain. From participating
    in conversations with a bright,
    positive and uplifting tone,

    you will influence attitudes
    of others. There’s so much you should
    refrain from. Participating
    with a positive attitude

    in all discussions enlightens
    everyone. If you cannot stay
    positive then you should simply
    refrain from participating.

    By Michael Grove

  14. Andrew Kreider


    You don’t need to keep pushing me
    like that – I can do it myself,
    he yells to me, his arms and legs
    pumping the air to celebrate

    his mastery of flight. Relax,
    you don’t need to keep pushing me!
    I’ll be out of here soon enough.
    Just stand there and be proud of me,

    or, better yet, stay in the car
    and let go of the bits of me
    you don’t need to keep. Pushing me
    to stay the same won’t stop the clock.

    We do one final underdog,
    high as the sky, and he is gone.
    I miss you, son. It’s hard to change –
    you don’t need to keep pushing me.

  15. Andrew Kreider

    How we got to Vegas

    Looking back on it, we might have
    thought twice before bringing a kid
    blessed with agoraphobia
    thirteen hours to the Grand Canyon.

    It just never occurred to us.
    Looking back on it, we might have
    noticed the first signs of distress
    when he stopped in the parking lot

    at the South Rim and turned around,
    striding away from the view, not
    looking back at it. We might have
    forced him to stay, but why go there?

    Nature’s overrated, I said.
    Let’s go to Vegas. So we did.
    Did we have the best time ever?
    Looking back on it, we might have!

  16. Mary Mansfield

    The Effects of Science on Modern Love

    In this chemical reaction,
    Molecules caught by attraction
    Can often act erratically,
    Creating heat and energy,

    Complicating interaction
    In this chemical reaction.
    We’re testing our hypothesis
    And giving close analysis,

    Determining that energy
    Increased thermodynamically
    In this chemical reaction.
    This wisdom gained by abstraction,

    The lessons never taught in schools
    Of chemistry and molecules,
    Moving closer by a fraction
    In this chemical reaction.

  17. Michelle Hed

    As the Roads were Covered with Snow

    As the roads were covered with snow
    the driving became very slow.
    Treacherous conditions ahead,
    unknowing, the tears to be shed.

    Four girls continued on their way
    as the roads were covered with snow
    blown across the wide, open plain
    the snow swirled, danced a sad refrain.

    As they talked, laughed and made their plans
    for tomorrow, the future, life –
    as the roads were covered with snow
    they hit a patch that spun them so,

    across the road, out of control
    four lives gone, no plans, no future –
    forever gone but not forgotten
    as the roads were covered with snow.

  18. Domino

    Gone Either Way

    Sometimes death takes us by surprise.
    Going about our day, perhaps,
    being as shallow as only
    the truly unprepared can be.

    And someone we love is just gone.
    Sometimes death takes us by surprise.
    But sometimes there is fair warning.
    A doctor’s visit, followed by

    a grim diagnosis. Yet now
    we have the time we think we need,
    to say what we wanted to say.
    Sometimes death takes us by surprise

    even then, though, because waiting
    for the end inevitably
    brings weariness. And when they’re gone,
    sometimes, death takes us by surprise.

    Diana Terrill Clark

  19. Peggy

    Shattered Lives

    Shattered lives fall quietly in
    countless unremembered rooms left
    dark by those who left too soon, and
    only live in minding bereft.

    Speak not the foolish dogma that
    shattered lives. Fall quietly in
    due respect for minds that know what
    broken hearts will deny as sin.

    Step softly here, and hold your haste
    to wave your pennant even while
    shattered lives fall. Quietly, in
    shadows cheer your victory vile,

    plan your wars and dig your foxholes,
    and line them up to claim your win.
    This coin is spent, as many more
    shattered lives fall quietly in.

  20. Domino

    The Dove

    In the tree outside my window
    a dove perches, contemplating.
    The little birds are fickle, though.
    They fall from the tree like raindrops

    and then burst upward all at once
    in the tree outside my window.
    Their bodies missiles now, again,
    they rain to the grass, drip, drip, drop,

    then, frantic, return to the tree.
    Through it all, the dove sits so still
    in the tree outside my window,
    while the chaos and calm by turns

    pass by her gentle frame. Her perch:
    that one same branch day after day,
    no fluttering nonsense for her
    in the tree outside my window.

    Diana Terrill Clark

  21. Willy


    I will stop procrastinating,
    tomorrow, if it pleases me.
    Yet I find it fascinating
    to leave some things be as they be.

    It’ll happen. Just wait and see.
    I will stop procrastinating
    and even do it happily.
    Hesitating’s elevating,

    but for some it’s aggravating.
    When time feels right, and I feel free,
    I will stop procrastinating.
    It doesn’t matter whether we

    ever agree or disagree
    on my ratiocinating.
    It is clear: eventually
    I will stop procrastinating.

  22. taylor graham

    Vincent Van Gogh, oil on canvas, Saint-Rémy, 1889

    This landscape seethes with living heat,
    sun’s cloud-convection white on blue
    reflected, rising off a sheet
    so blank, the colors beckon you

    to paint. It’s solitude’s purlieu.
    This landscape seethes with living heat,
    it roils up under clouds that brew
    a thought of storm, a thunder beat

    beyond horizon. Here, your feet
    might stir red poppies – just a few.
    This landscape seethes with living heat,
    impassive to man’s presence. Who

    would think to ease the soul, renew
    the spirit in this place? Just wheat,
    two trees, the questing sky. Like you,
    this landscape seethes with living heat.

  23. Connie Peters

    It Would Have Been a Vacation

    It would have been a vacation.
    Packed bags, airplane flight, eating out,
    staying at a hotel, shopping,
    and getting away from it all.

    Seeing old friends, meeting new ones.
    It would have been a vacation.
    Family sharing memories,
    looking over old photographs.

    Lots of hugs, eating, listening.
    Together, working toward a goal.
    It would have been a vacation,
    but there was one person missing.

    We helped bear the weight of her grief,
    which cruelly threatened to crush her.
    If the warehouse hadn’t fallen,
    it would have been a vacation.

  24. Patricia A. Hawkenson

    Danger Zone

    Too close to the situation,
    I can’t be sure when I have lost.
    There’s no warning cry or siren,
    no flashing light to startle me.

    I’ve stepped beyond the sandy line
    too close to the situation.
    My mother’s arm across my chest
    tries to hold me back or ground me.

    But her age-old dusty advice
    holds no significance for me,
    too close to the situation,
    pitching pennies against the wall.

    Till I can win your love again,
    I’ll play whatever game you want.
    Sanity is the price I’ll pay
    too close to the situation.

  25. Madeleine Begun Kane

    As I attempt to write this verse,
    I must confess I start to curse.
    A quatern is what’s been assigned.
    Already I am in a bind.

    I feel confused and somewhat terse,
    As I attempt to write this verse.
    So please forgive me if I whine.
    My limericks are where I shine.

    I’d like to stop, but can’t refrain
    From trying this quatern again.
    As I attempt to write this verse,
    I fear that it is getting worse.

    I’m tempted to reject this form.
    About its rules I feel lukewarm.
    I’m getting ill. I need a nurse,
    As I attempt to write this verse.

    Madeleine Begun Kane

    1. FrankieW

      Well done Madeline! You made me laugh. I submitted a quatern last night but it says “awaiting moderation” and I can only view it if I am logged in. Did this happen to you?

  26. Patricia A. Hawkenson


    The sun heals me with its warmth.
    Instead of letting it burn on the surface,
    the pin pricks of my anger dull.
    I melt my sadness back into memory.

    A calmness surges through me.
    The sun heals me with its warmth.
    I stop obsessing over pronouns,
    the mine or yours or his or hers.

    My head falls back bending freely
    while shoulders let their stiffness go.
    The sun heals me with its warmth
    as my breath completely fills me.

    Bitter words mingle with deep sighs.
    A lifting breeze carries them away.
    Then my eyes can see a different view.
    The sun heals me with its warmth.

  27. FrankieW


    Capricious snowflakes float around
    me. As I stand they debark on
    my shivery, crimson visage;
    melting lucent, trickling ribbons.

    Twirling, blowing, careening, cold,
    capricious snowflakes float around.
    Chopin’s Prelude in E minor
    plays. My eyes close. Serenity.

    I walk a ways – on the ruins
    of a pallor world. Ignorant
    capricious snowflakes float around.
    The war is over! So rejoice?

    Kinfolk departed. I’m alone.
    My hollow soul screams silently.
    I wander, cloaked in winter’s brume.
    Capricious snowflakes float around.

  28. taylor graham


    Glimpsed so briefly, a point of land
    between horizon and the shore
    that guards our footprints under waves.
    Above us, gulls and petrels glide

    on hunger vortices. Still, we
    glimpsed – so briefly – a point of land
    beyond. It made us check our charts.
    It isn’t there. Shall we question

    our own eyes, or wonder at some
    trick of light that makes illusion
    glimpsed so briefly? A point of land
    becomes a myth; no – faith, or love

    or anything we might hold dear.
    Now, shadows gather and disperse
    like mist above eternal tides.
    Glimpsed so briefly, a point of land.

  29. taylor graham


    Don’t get caught on the moor at night.
    The pathways are so few and faint,
    no shelter against sudden storms.
    Tor-climbers may never return.

    A white-gowned woman haunts the Falls.
    Don’t get caught on the moor at night.
    Even flowers are treacherous.
    She comes when someone is drowning.

    Walking alone with none to guide,
    you’ll hear strange voices on the wind.
    Don’t get caught on the moor at night.
    Far from sea, Crazywell has tides,

    and no bottom. A cross stands guard.
    See the mirrored face of the next
    to die, and listen for his name.
    Don’t get caught on the moor at night.

  30. taylor graham


    Is vibrant color everything?
    Finger-paint smeared red with sky-blue
    on butter-yellow, till the black-
    and-white of every-day gets lost

    in green-orange labyrinths. Purple
    is! Vibrant color. Everything
    you can make from what Teacher calls
    the Secondary Colors – look,

    she points to the big Color Wheel.
    Beige classroom walls repeat: Yes, it
    is vibrant! Color everything!
    As if that explains what Matt sees –

    what the world around calls mishmash –
    each aqua-mango-sunset swirl
    and spiral-dancing on the page
    is vibrant color. Everything.

  31. Michael Grove

    Happy Ending

    I want the happy ending too,
    so happily ever after.
    I want to share my life with you
    always filled up with our laughter.

    I built a bridge from shore to shore.
    I want the happy ending too.
    I live my life where less is more
    and all our simple dreams come true.

    I’ve always done my best for you.
    My love is now a surety.
    I want the happy ending too,
    for both of our security.

    I’ll answer every single call,
    and I will not give up on you.
    Together we shall never fall.
    I want the happy ending too.

    By Michael Grove


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