WD Poetic Form Challenge: Bref Double

Time for another WD Poetic Form Challenge. This time around, we’ll be writing the bref double, a 14-line French poetic form that is not a sonnet. Like many French forms, there’s a rhyme, but it also offers more variability than your typical French form. Click here to read how to write a bref double.

Once you know the rules for the bref double, start writing them and sharing here on the blog (this specific post) for a chance to be published in Writer’s Digest magazine–as part of the Poetic Asides column. (Note: You have to log in to the site to post comments/poems; creating an account is free.)

Here’s how the challenge works:

  • Challenge is free. No entry fee.
  • The winner (and sometimes a runner-up or two) will be featured in a future edition of Writer’s Digest magazine as part of the Poetic Asides column.
  • Deadline 11:59 p.m. (Atlanta, GA time) on May 26, 2014.
  • Poets can enter as many bref doubles as they wish. The more “work” you make for me the better.
  • All poems should be previously unpublished. If you have a specific question about your specific situation, just send me an e-mail at robert.brewer@fwmedia.com. Or just write a new bref double.
  • I will only consider bref doubles shared in the comments below. It gets too confusing for me to check other posts, go to other blogs, etc.
  • Speaking of posting, if this is your first time, your comment may not appear immediately. However, it should appear within a day (or 3–if shared on the weekend). So just hang tight, and it should appear eventually. If not, send me an e-mail at the address above.
  • Please include your name as you would like it to appear in print. If you don’t, I’ll be forced to use your screen name, which might be something like HaikuPrincess007 or MrLineBreaker. WD has a healthy circulation, so make it easy for me to get your byline correct.
  • Finally–and most importantly–be sure to have fun!


Break into copywriting!

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Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, which means he has the pleasure of doing a lot of fun writing-related projects. He’s also the author of Solving the World’s Problems. He’s married to a poet, Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets (four boys and one princess). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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416 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Bref Double

  1. Jane Shlensky

    One more and I’ll stop. Promise.


    Some sightings save me from despair
    when life grows spiteful, dull and gray:
    the silhouetted flight of geese
    or pelicans in rosy dawn,

    a gushing spring as cold as steel,
    a meadow walk, a nibbling hare,
    the furry belly of a cat,
    the tender taper of a fawn,

    the powder of a Luna moth,
    the friendship of the chickadees,
    a tender iris, sultry rose,
    all fleeting wonders, here and gone.

    Such little miracles repair
    my heart, and cares can find release.

  2. Margie Fuston

    River of Wishes

    The river is full
    and rushing behind
    us with wishes
    over baked in sun,

    but your eyes
    hold my breasts,
    my legs, my chin,
    making me undone

    as the breeze kisses
    drops of water
    from my skin,
    stealing each one.

    Come taste this sin
    while the air reminisces.

  3. Jane Shlensky


    Some locals say she’s got the touch
    of second sight and prescience,
    that she knows where the future lives
    should they but follow fate’s design.

    The old folks urge the young to heed
    the way she takes their hands and gives
    them secret smiles they understand,
    encouragement. Though she is blind,

    they know she sees into their hearts,
    the paths their feet might take, how much
    light and shadow they will meet,
    the loves they’ll keep or leave behind.

    She treats them tenderly, but such
    kindness is sharper than a shiv.

  4. Jane Shlensky


    She started stitching as a child,
    a ploy to keep her quiet when
    the grown-ups shared important talk.
    Sometimes she seemed to disappear,

    for they would tell such awful tales
    of snakes that glide where spirits walk,
    of mortal sickness, cruelties
    no child as small as she should hear.

    Her frenzied needle tugged the thread
    of story, often strange and wild,
    forests of nerves spidered across
    embroidered quilt squares fine as fear

    where scars of thread her fingers styled
    mirrored how narrative can stalk.

  5. Jane Shlensky


    Strange weather patterns stir respect
    when now and then Earth gets fed up
    with humans’ gross mismanagement—
    deforestation, waste, and greed.

    Blizzards in summer, torrid springs,
    tornadoes, quakes, tsunamis, drought—
    we mourn our loss but still infect
    vast landscapes. Power we won’t concede.

    Edens become Gethsemanes,
    fodder for man’s development,
    until earth rages, rises up
    in dust bowls, nothing more to seed.

    Good stewardship we quite reject.
    We fear, but we do not repent.

  6. Jane Shlensky

    Small Things

    She gives them gifts of garden plants—
    sometimes as seedlings, sometimes blooms;
    folks need small things to care about
    despite the hurts their hearts sustain.

    She has an eye for loveliness
    earth offers; weeds with elegance
    might join a rose or peony,
    unlikely friends to ease deep pain.

    In diagnosing circumstance,
    she claims this remedy for doubt:
    green tendrils we can nurture help
    to lessen loss, give hope again.

    A blossom is another chance,
    one small thing we can’t live without.

  7. PressOn


    I never found a water ouzel
    although I wandered far and wide,
    and so I thought that I should try
    another theme

    and went in search of streamlet birds;
    but waterthrushes disappointed
    even after I had tried
    another stream

    and another, and another.
    Still, shy ones I could never find;
    somehow, my need was throttled by
    another dream.

    These days, I wander deep inside
    to seek the waters, and wonder why.

    William Preston

  8. Jane Shlensky

    On Watching Big Trees Bend in a Storm

    No self-respecting storm would dare
    to show its face without a wind;
    its grumbling noise and crashing light
    are like suspenders without pants.

    We may enjoy a soaking rain
    to shield us from the sun’s white glare,
    but we need wind to move the clouds,
    give other weather forms a chance.

    We don’t want funneled wind, typhoons,
    hurricanes parsing power and might.
    A breeze gone renegade is proof
    that nature harbors militants.

    We favor wind wisps we can bear,
    awed when gusts keep us up at night.

  9. Jane Shlensky

    Ruminations on Retirement

    You think you’ll cruise around the world,
    make up for all those working years,
    adventures that are sure to please,
    hip deep in wine and friends and fun.

    The invitations trickle in
    to clubs and outings, parties hurled,
    folks filling up your calendar
    with tasks that others wish to shun.

    You fill a feeder, watch the birds,
    shut off the phone, ignore the pleas,
    but now you’re challenged by squirrels
    that make you want to buy a gun.

    Perhaps it’s time you simply curled
    up with a book and practiced ease.

  10. Jane Shlensky

    The Zen of Fishing

    He likes to fish late afternoon
    when boaters pack and head for home;
    he’s claimed a finger of the lake
    where herons wade in shade of trees.

    He packs a sandwich, water, flares,
    humming a sentimental tune.
    Sometimes he doesn’t bait a hook—
    just sits, his elbows on his knees.

    Long shadows stretch along the shore;
    fish leap in arching brief ballet.
    In silence he can’t bear to break,
    he wades into deep empty ease,

    but sometimes he will hear a loon
    that moves him just like loving’s ache.

  11. Jane Shlensky

    Gardeners’ Progress

    They contemplate the plants they’d be
    were they not humans, tilling soil—
    what varied personalities
    veggies suggest a summer’s day.

    Pole-vaulting string beans run and climb.
    Tomatoes blush so easily
    around vain corn with flowing silks,
    and moiling tubers mine the clay.

    Queued up like crewmen in their shell,
    what teamwork show the garden peas!
    Big-hearted merry melons joke
    as squash and pumpkins plump away.

    Their bodies till; their minds run free.
    Imagination toils to please.

  12. Michelle Hed

    When in Rome

    I really wanted to go dancing
    but my friend preferred to sleep
    and since she was my host
    I thought it best to acquiesce.

    The next day dawned sunny and bright
    and I thought we might head for the coast
    but my friend had a migraine
    so I tiptoed around in my dress.

    Finally around three she emerged from her cave
    grabbed some food, her keys and without hardly glancing
    she shouted, “let’s go!” and my feet did a rat-a-tap-tap
    as we ran out the door, I forgot my quiet game of chess.

    When we finally headed for home, the night was advancing
    but the beach was amazing and my friend is the best, I can boast!

  13. DanielAri

    “Long weekend to myself”

    I’m framing my apology
    for not checking every checkbox
    on the list she left when she left
    the home she makes for her weekend.

    I’m freed in this fatality.
    With 48 hours to go
    I could surely finish it all.
    This way, I don’t have to pretend

    to want to move the garden rocks
    and transplant the wandering jew.
    I’ll invent my apology,
    buy some treats the bakery

    and keep honey in the honey-
    do while I match up her clean socks.


  14. Jane Shlensky


    I can see where the critters go
    across the garden to the woods.
    They carry what they’ve stolen, weight
    that presses them into damp soil.

    Raccoons and possums, chipmunks, deer,
    a thousand squirrels let me know
    I’ve worked to plant and tend for them—
    they are the reason for my toil.

    The tracks they plant might germinate
    the minute that I turn my back,
    and I will tend a crop of foes
    whose second nature is to spoil.

    Resigned, I bid them loud hello:
    they forage, but appreciate.

  15. Jane Shlensky


    I’ve walked this garden path so long
    you’d think my feet could find it blind,
    the to and fro-ness marking time
    with baskets empty, baskets filled

    with every season’s harvest gift.
    I’d start out fresh and morning strong
    thinking of peas, tomatoes, corn,
    plodding back home like something drilled

    to do a mindless task. Among
    deep bounty’s swelling green mirage,
    this brutal weariness feels wrong,
    like rainbows after rain has spilled.

    But evening’s back aches like a song
    that pounds a path to the sublime.

  16. Jane Shlensky

    Night Noises

    There’s something in the woods at night
    that yelps a soggy strangled cry.
    We listen squinting through the trees
    to see such sounds take shape and walk.

    We keep the house dark, concentrate,
    concerned that it might see our light
    and hurry blindly straight to us
    to terrorize us as we gawk.

    Our muscles tense, we strain to hear
    and try to still our shaking knees.
    A jagged edge of darkness cuts
    into our fear; we hardly talk.

    Imagination’s teeth can bite
    through screens of sound brought on a breeze.

  17. Nancy Posey

    Their Wedding

    They chose to tie the knot outside
    despite the conflict it would cause.
    Her mother said there wasn’t room
    for everyone on his mom’s list.

    They did not choose to stomp a glass;
    they did not want to jump the broom,
    no candles lit, no mixing sand—
    just rings and vows and final kiss.

    Her father walked her down the aisle.
    The guests were shocked by how he cried.
    Did he oppose all weddings or
    did he have doubts of future bliss?

    But no one noticed that the bride
    had eyes for no one but the groom.

    1. PressOn

      For me, the subtle power of this poem occurs in the last lines, and the twin “no ones.” The whole point of a wedding is wrapped up there, I think, and the rest (in the other stanzas) is merely dressing.

  18. PressOn


    The headstones lie here, cold and mute,
    above the grave sites, young and old,
    and testify that there once lived
    some names now carved or etched in stone.

    These guardians of memory
    seem strangely wise, even astute,
    as though they are but watching us.
    Most of the year they wait, alone,

    for visitors to join the fold;
    some to mark time and some to stay.
    One day a year, the whole place blooms,
    but all is but a matter of tone:

    for flowers left will not take root
    though memories gleam as burnished gold.

    William Preston

  19. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    This poem is…

    This poem’s a coward
    Insecure and quite afraid
    Pretty sure it won’t pass muster
    To its horror and dismay

    This poem’s a chicken
    It just lacks the expertise
    for completion and (for now)
    it has nothing more to say

    This poem is flustered
    It is shy and ill at ease
    No one knows the day or hour
    It will see the light of day

    Till it’s tight, flawless and mastered
    Paper balls ( I guess) it is

    1. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

      This poem is…

      This poem’s a coward
      Insecure and quite afraid
      Pretty sure it won’t pass muster
      To its horror and dismay

      This poem’s a chicken
      It just lacks the expertise
      for completion and (for now)
      it has nothing more to say

      This poem is flustered
      It is shy and ill at ease
      No one knows the day or hour
      It will see the light of day

      Till it’s tight, flawless and mastered
      Paper balls (I guess) it is

  20. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    the object of my affections

    the object of my affections
    with a glance brightens my day
    doesn’t think so but is quite
    handsome; makes me sin with idolatry

    collects coins and plays with puzzles
    is my friend, my world, my lover
    if kidnapped, I’d pay his ransom
    in every storm, he stands by me

    makes me laugh till doubled over
    through the years, come what may
    he’s been home to me, I can’t think of
    any other place I would rather be

    two decades strong will mark October
    I wouldn’t have it any other way

  21. JRSimmang


    Tenderness be a half-moon
    casting a soft plat’num
    (an aura of disguise)
    in the silvered leaves.

    Here, we wander our gloom
    with leashed faux sadness
    ’round trees goliath
    through heart-laden sleeves.

    Bleed blessed a name
    and childlike hum,
    condone the master
    and the story he weaves.

    All the while the night-eyes dream of daylight pure, soon
    the beating, soon the throbbing of the dirgeing drum.


    1. PressOn

      This piece entrances me, almost literally. The first three stanzas feel dreamlike, while t4he last feels like a raucous wake-up call. Almost like a hangover. Marvellous and mysterious, or so it seems to me.

  22. PressOn


    In memory I see him now
    atop the Farmall in the field,
    tending to his rolling land.
    His smile

    is small and tender as he works
    to feed a growing family:
    to pull the plow; to milk the cow;
    all the while

    massaging life from loam and sand.
    His work is hard; his hours are long;
    he could complain, but that is not
    his style.

    There is no need to wonder how
    I still can feel his steady hand.

    William Preston

    1. Linda Goin

      Lovely, lovely contrast between a hard-working man and his gentle heart. I liked the short fourth lines in each stanza, and you handled the rhyming so well that I barely noticed it. Thanks, William!


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