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Nonet Poems: Poetic Form

Categories: Poetic Forms, Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides Blog, What's New.

Never heard of nonet poems? That’s all right. I’d never heard of them before trying to hunt down a new poetic form to cover earlier this week.

Nonet Poems: The Rules

The nonet poetic form is simple. It’s a 9-line poem that has 9 syllables in the first line, 8 syllables in the second line, 7 syllables in the third line, and continues to count down to one syllable in the final (ninth) line.

I couldn’t find an origin, but I did learn that the word nonet is used for a group of 9 performers or instruments. So I’m assuming this is one of those poetic forms inspired by music.

Here’s my attempt at the Nonet Poetic Form:


There’s a life curled in the darkness
sweating out the evening storm
beneath leaves covered with rain
and an urge to bolt like
the lightning before
thunder. Under
here we run
free of


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


Learn more poetic forms…

…with The Poetry Dictionary, by John Drury.


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About Robert Lee Brewer

Senior Content Editor, Writer's Digest Community.

95 Responses to Nonet Poems: Poetic Form

  1. mapoet says:


    The painting turns liquid before me.
    Suddenly, the water seems real.
    I want to dip my finger
    into the clear blue pool.
    Let the fluid chill
    me to the bone
    while sunlight

    By Michelle Pond

  2. Deborah Purdy says:


    By the time you hear the crescendo,
    the shrill harmony of the soul
    of summer, of the heartbeat
    of heat, it crashes, then
    calls the troubadours
    to celebrate,

  3. Klikka126 says:


    The stars in the night captured my eyes
    The man in the moon was awake
    His fullness of face shone bright
    Then what a strange surprise
    Without a warning
    Before too long
    An Eclipse
    Moon Man

    by Pam Barletta

  4. tiffanymj says:

    I’m sitting here listening to Andrea Gibson, and she was my inspiration for this little thing. It’s been quite a while since I’ve composed a poem…

    “Andrea Said…”

    Andrea said, “It hurts to become,”
    in one of her poems and it
    stayed with me in such a way
    that I could feel the words
    deep inside my bones –
    just like treasure –
    waiting to
    be dug

    – Tiffany M. Johnson

  5. showdonttell says:

    Hmm, the first line in Robert’s example only has 8 syllables.

    Anyway, I’m working on mine.

  6. Kim King says:

    There are lots of amazing nonets today!
    I found the form both challenging and fun. Will be back later with mine. Cheers to all the nonet fans!

  7. b_kelli says:

    Color Me Clear

    My inner voice is shouting loudly.
    And I hear her. My place of start.
    No fear. No lies. No whatifs.
    I accept this is me.
    I’ve discovered my
    fav’rite color;
    it is the

    By Kelli Schmidt-Bultena

    Thanks to all for sharing – great poetry here.

  8. Autumn Poet says:

    Kiss in 9/2 Time

    There are nine ticks on the metronome,
    his finger touches a black key,
    his other hand touches me.
    When his eyes fix on mine
    then there is no time.
    We now prepare
    for the sure

    By Brenda Bishop Blakey

  9. Miss R. says:

    Tale Fires

    Fires burn lower and lower and glow,
    Warm with stories yet to be told:
    Tales of ancient bravery
    And treasures now long lost,
    Stories of new love
    And old desires
    Twining through
    The world’s

  10. seingraham says:

    Editor won’t let me post my nonets here (insists they’re already up and that to post would be to “duplicate” them … grrr)
    So, my trio of nonets may be found on my blog THE WAY EYE SEE IT at this url for anyone so inclined:


  11. You are posting comments too quickly.
    Slow down
    . By the time I do, I
    already lost my train of
    thought and any patience
    I had left is gone
    my presence no
    longer felt
    in the

    Dedicated to some of the great pieces posted here tonight for which I tried commenting but couldn’t. :|

  12. RJ Clarken says:

    Through a Rain-Streaked Lens

    Raindrops make tiny spots on my specs.
    I think about taking them off
    but I like the weird effects
    that dazzle my eyes and
    cause me to see things
    in ways I would
    never ex-


  13. tjholt says:

    A good friend recently died expectantly so death was on my mind

    Dust to Dust

    Death slanders images of itself,
    though I seek to imagine it
    as assurance of my faith;
    that fixed set of beliefs
    is mirrored blackness,
    a cloud passing,
    from life’s dust
    my star

  14. “Refiner’s fire”

    Just shy of nothing—the way our lives
    used to be, when we knew nothing
    could ever sever our earth
    and sky; when love was a
    color to sing as
    we slept instead
    of the pure
    gold of

  15. zevd2001 says:

    Out of nowhere a butterfly lands
    upon a snapdragon sipping dew
    dancing in the shade, flies off
    to yet other flowers
    day after day, filled
    up. Rests, spinning
    its insides

    In straight lines on the sidewalk ants move
    clips behind their backs carrying
    supplies for their domicile
    following each other
    keeping their distance
    like good soldiers

    This is a freeway where cars whiz by,
    a production line. Efficient
    after a fashion. Sometimes
    something gums up the works.
    the traffic moves

    Shopping carts one behind the other
    food wonderful food gathered in
    as the cash registers ring.
    Prosperity reigns here.
    The misus carries
    the bags of food
    in a row
    takes them

    Zev Davis


    The other pups sold for eight hundred,
    a thousand. She was bought, returned.
    Too bright, too hard. A diamond.
    We got her for a prayer,
    and now we’re paying.
    Oh those thousand-
    carat eyes.
    She’s price-


    How many souls dance on a pin’s head?
    Consult Aquinas, Hameroff/
    Penrose. My father dying
    looked so thin – was there space
    for spirit inside?
    Useless questions
    about my


    Elizabethan clammer of pots,
    hooks, trammels; centuries of hard
    use. You wait for tea. No guest
    but you – except, above
    the huge black chimney,
    Night gathers its
    slow circle-
    dance of

  19. Marie Elena says:

    For my dear, dear friend Jackie.


    A technician situates your breast.
    Pressed; pressed harder. “Now hold your breath.”
    “Breathe.” Repeat ad nauseum.
    “Something looks suspicious.”
    Heart stops. Holding breath.
    Next, ultrasound.

  20. Tracy Davidson says:

    Captain Jack

    Man cannot survive on rum alone,
    although Captain Jack Sparrow tried
    when marooned on an island
    in the Caribbean.
    The worst part of all
    was no women
    to love his

  21. Tracy Davidson says:

    My heart skipped the first time I saw you,
    when you smiled at me the sun shone,
    when you first grabbed my finger
    my heart swelled up wth pride,
    I felt anything
    was possible.
    When you died
    my heart

  22. Tracy Davidson says:

    Life becomes more confusing with age,
    but your forgetfulness had grown
    to a worrying extent.
    The doctor asks your name.
    I watch you struggle
    to remember –

  23. You must tell me what the secret is!
    Don’t say ‘diet and exercise,’
    Tell me the *secret*! The trick!
    The drug that I can take
    To take it all off
    I’m tired of

  24. priyajane says:


    I am not sure where I stand today
    Afraid of where to go from here
    Bound by invisible chains
    Of fearful past domain
    What is the mantra?
    Magic, Fairy?
    Please release
    Me in

    PriyA Jane

  25. “Wither”

    Why do dreams wither in the sunlight
    Why do dreams wither in the light
    Do dreams wither in the light
    Dreams wither in the light
    Dreamer in the light
    Dream in the light
    Dream the light
    Dream light

  26. Nancy Posey says:


    Poised between bunnies and elephants,
    we mark time in months, then weeks,
    then days, as nine months’ magic
    summons a miracle,
    embryo, fetus,
    grows into child.
    Womb empty,
    our hearts

  27. Nancy Posey says:

    Nine Ladies Dancing

    Spare yourself the alliteration.
    While the maids milk and the lords leap,
    We’ll keep doing what we do.
    The swans won’t distract us,
    gold rings won’t dazzle.
    Leave birds in trees.
    On our toes,
    we shall

  28. Dan Collins says:


    This baren cradle, sand, stone, wind, bone –
    See all these desolate flowers?
    They rise in the arid sky,
    float above the mesa;
    unfold in bleached white,
    sun raw petals;
    unfurl the
    grace of

  29. my nonet

    form following function – forty-five
    intimate syllables having
    their inexorable way
    with you, leading to only
    one conclusion – the
    coming climax
    was always


  30. Turtled says:

    Thought I would put a different spin on this. It was much more challenging than I expected. I have enjoyed reading the poems and figured someone could do this better than me. I am new here so hope I am not disturbing the balance.

    Hopeful minds gaze, longingly waiting
    Hopeful minds gaze longingly, wait
    Hopeful minds gaze longingly
    Hopeful minds gaze, longing
    Hopeful minds gaze long
    Hopeful minds gaze
    Hopeful minds

  31. Turtled says:

    Do the math, nine plus eight plus seven…
    Expression in forty-five beats
    Some hope, inspiration
    Perhaps a dream purveyed
    Wonderful promise
    To inspire you
    Dang, I am
    Out of

  32. Earl Parsons says:

    Familiar Words

    If all of your friends jumped off a cliff
    You can lead a horse to water
    You’re gonna’ shoot your eye out
    It takes one to know one
    Time waits for no man
    One of these days
    Count to ten
    Calm down

  33. Earl Parsons says:

    God is
    God is love
    God is complete
    God is our Savior
    God is omnipotent
    God is all encompassing
    God is all we will ever need
    God is the Way, the Truth and the Life

  34. Earl Parsons says:

    As I look through the prism of time
    At days far removed from today
    I wonder what may have been
    Had I not walked this path
    Would I be happy
    Would I regret
    Or would I

  35. Bruce Niedt says:

    Heat Wave

    Ninety-eight degrees, a heat index
    of one-oh-five, the sky blue-gray
    and heavy. Everyone moves
    through gelatin air, mid-
    afternoon, heading
    off to something
    cool: AC,
    ice cream,

  36. Marjory MT says:

    When life seems to press me in too hard
    I want to run away and hid
    deep down within my being
    where no one else can see.
    There to fine solaces
    and quietness
    to comfort

  37. Marjory MT says:

    I wander throught the meadow and woods,
    the sound of the wind in the trees
    whispering above my head
    replays old melodies,
    and soft lullabies
    to remind me
    of lost days
    and past

  38. So there I stood at the horizon
    Where parallel lines meet at last,
    And triangles can be made
    With three 90 degrees;
    And logic blend
    As on this
    Sphere I

    [In case anyone is interested, it is possible to create a 90-90-90 triangle. It must be drawn on a sphere. Kind of a mind-trip.]

  39. mrs.mjbauer says:

    Sights of London

    Changing of the Horse Guard at St. James
    Big Ben and Westminster Abbey
    Victoria and Albert
    The British Museum
    Tower of London
    The River Thames
    Tower Bridge
    Tube Map

  40. Hi,
    I’m very fond of this form. I’ve heard another name – etheree – it might be nonet’s first cousin: the only difference is that it goes from ten syllables to one (and sometimes back all the way to ten.) Here’s mine written some time ago to a wordle challenge:

    Don’t talk to me about the old places,
    Don’t bring to surface the longings that
    Lie dormant and still in the depth
    Of my soul. Do not unwind
    My life. For if you do,
    You’ll find me kneeling,
    Praying in vain
    For a chance
    To go
    Not take
    Away my
    To look ahead and
    Contemplate the broad and crisp
    Horizons, and fields dotted
    With wild flowers. Do not disturb the
    Reel of my life, I do not wish
    To make a spectacle of myself. Please.

  41. Marie Elena says:

    One more, and I’m done (for now … LOVE the nonet form!)

    Fall, In Love

    We shared our favorite time of year
    Where each turn of the bend ignites
    Flamboyant reds and yellows
    A welcoming heart(h) glows
    Silence is golden
    Passion smolders
    You and I

    • seingraham says:

      I remember your love of this form Marie – and no wonder – yours are lovely … I especially like that you also included the heart-breaker from the nursing home …

      Robert, yours engendered all sorts of ideas for me thanks … if only most things could be “free of why” – a lovely nonet.

    • Hi Marie
      You nonets rock. Took me hours (lots) to finally get mine – you make it look so easy. really like this form because kind of encompasses what i picture really good poetry to be – solid description narrowing down to one really strong unifying emotional ending.

  42. Marie Elena says:

    Another older one I wrote:


    As the sun slips beneath the water,
    Her afterglow lingers above –
    Much to wooing moon’s delight.
    And they bask in the glow
    Those fleeting moments
    They call their own,
    As their hearts

  43. Marie Elena says:

    Robert, yours is outstanding. “free of why” … wow.

  44. Marie Elena says:

    The following nonet was inspired by a despondent gentleman in a nursing home whose heart/soul/spirit was quickened by hearing the music of his era. If you get a chance, please watch this amazing/endearing ~6-minute video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKDXuCE7LeQ&feature=share .

    Accelerando! Something Stirs!

    Though I may be living in my grave,
    Though both rhythm and voice are hushed,
    I long for a serenade.
    Timbre, return to me!
    Quicken my soul
    With music –
    My heart

    (I included 9 musical terms in this poem, for good “measure.”)

    • I keep trying to comment but it won’t let me. Anyway, nice work here, Miss Marie. I liked the inclusion of the musical terms, and I especially loved the second and third lines. (Maybe this post will FINALLY go through.)

      • Marie Elena says:

        Wow, thank you so much!

        “Miss” Marie, eh? :D

      • Klikka126 says:

        Hello all, I’m new here and about as computer literate as a snail walking with a cane! But, now I’m seeing that “whatevertheyaint” is having trouble “commenting” too. I read Robertlee’s instructions to come here and click on “comment” in order to post a nonet poem. I keep wondering what I’m doing wrong?? Perhaps I should post my poem here in the “reply” area? If anyone might be willing to help me out just a bit, please contact me at . Many thanks in advance.
        Warm Regards,
        Pam (klikka126)

    • Ah, Marie Elena, this is beautiful and clever.

    • Klikka126 says:

      Dear Marie Elena,
      What a Wonderful young woman you are!! Your nonet is not only terrific, but incredibly thoughtful!
      Warmest Regards,
      Pam (klikka126)

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