WD Poetic Form Challenge: Interlocking Rubaiyat

Once again, it is time for the WD Poetic Form Challenge. This time around, we’re focused on the interlocking rubaiyat. Find the rules for the interlocking rubaiyat by clicking here. It’s an interesting form that revolves around quatrains with a specific rhyme scheme. (My favorite Robert Frost poem is actually written using this form.)

So 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 January 20, 2016.
  • Poets can enter as many interlocking rubaiyat poems as they wish. The more “work” you make for me the better, but remember: I’m judging on quality, not quantity.
  • All poems should be previously unpublished.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@fwcommunity.com. Or just write a new interlocking rubaiyat poem. They’re fun to write; I promise.
  • I will only consider interlocking rubaiyat poems 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 user/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!


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Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, which means he maintains this blog, edits a couple Market Books (Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market), writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, leads online education, speaks around the country on publishing and poetry, and a lot of other fun writing-related stuff. He’s also the author of the poetry collection Solving the World’s Problems.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


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183 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Interlocking Rubaiyat

  1. Susan Budig

    A Little Story about Susie and Dar

    The girls were bored and at a loss
    To find a treat that did not cost
    An arm, a leg, no more a dime
    They chose confectionary dross

    They pulled two nickels from the grime
    And gave them to the clerk part-time
    He took the coins, he let them drop
    Into the drawer, like bells they chimed

    The girls ran from the candy shop
    Their hearts aglee with what they’d got
    Susie reached in, to her surprise
    A fist of icky greenish glop

    Back to the store with angry eyes
    The girls cried foul, they did despise
    Their hopes of candy were not met
    The clerk endured their cruel chastise

    When Susie said, “You are in debt!”
    The clerk’s raised brows began to sweat
    “Please, Miss, you see, I didn’t mean,
    to cause you all of this upset.”

    Miss Sue, she counted to fifteen
    Then calmly said, “What do you mean?”
    The clerk, named Dar, a smile spread
    On lips up to his eyes of green

    I found your face, your golden head
    Your lilting voice and what you said
    It charmed me so, I wanted more
    I tried to speak, my voice, it fled

    The trick I used, I do deplore
    I never meant to make you sore
    If you’ll forgive, let’s make a plan
    To quell our silly little war

    Miss Sue, she liked this scheming man
    She asked her friend, “Oh, please, Dianne,
    If you would hasten to my house
    And straighten up the white divan

    Dianne, all-knowing, did not grouse
    She promptly scampered like a mouse
    She cleaned the couch, and baked some bread
    She hoped the two, they would espouse

    Which they did, in weeks were wed
    Their love it tied a tidy thread
    But when Dar makes sweetened sauce
    Sue fears something else instead!

  2. J.lynn Sheridan

    The Pay-off

    Beyond the painted sheered plateau,
    women gather ‘neath a halo
    flamed ‘round the shadowed shell
    of a lone dusty pueblo chateau.

    Lanky dogs—the mesa cartel—
    lay in an arid carousel
    of puddled clay and pitted steel
    guarding a single dank well.

    The weary women tarry to kneel
    then offer up a grainy meal
    as penance for their quenched fields
    that soak the rain in rabid zeal.

  3. Jane Shlensky

    Of Uncarved Blocks

    He whittles mindlessly, his hands a whir
    of knife and pig-tailed chips he’s set astir,
    curling until a figure ventures out
    to fill his palm. He is an amateur

    because he loves to let images sprout.
    He lets the voice within the wood speak out
    through him. He blows the shreds of chaff away
    as he tells unrelated tales about

    his father’s hands and how he wished someday
    to carve as deftly as that good man. Say
    what you will, he keeps an empty mind
    that lets another nature have its way.

  4. Jane Shlensky

    Lessons Among Birds

    Observe the birds recently treed
    who flit to feeders for the seed
    unmindful of the hungry hawks
    fricasseeing chickadees.

    Raptor etiquette now mocks
    songbird survival; silence stalks
    as titmouse, wren, and mourning dove
    engage in morning feeder talks.

    Medley of songbird, hawk above
    digesting dreams of foods they love
    and barely noticing the grip
    of food chains bringing push to shove.

    So all in nature lives to sip
    survival at another’s lip,
    aware that we strip sacrifice
    to need’s eroding daily drip.

  5. keight

    Sunshine &Water, and Love

    I have the moment tucked away:
    Your smile was like a sunny day.
    Your eyes were kind, your voice was deep;
    I hoped it’d always stay the same.

    When we were wed, we both did weep
    With promises to have and keep.
    The water flowed from both our eyes;
    We waded through our dreams knee-deep.

    Our love is still like ocean’s skies,
    Open and vast without a guise.
    We beat, we two, within one heart,
    And pains no more the day’s goodbyes.

  6. candy

    Night Vision

    the moon and stars at night conspire
    to set my soul on fire
    imagination they enfold
    transport me ever higher

    the shining bodies there unfold
    strange tales of heroes bold
    who ride across the inky sky
    in search of risk untold

    the hunter lets his arrow fly
    and sisters whisper secrets, lies
    flat on my back, a night time scene
    Aquarius and Gemini

    adventures such as in a dream
    water serpents rage and scream
    swan and swordfish glide above
    until the sunbeams gleam

  7. Karen Pickell


    The turtle’s nest a strange display
    A sign erected: Stay away!
    Don’t stomp the ground; don’t shine a light
    Let’s help the hatchlings find their way

    The moon will guide their path through night
    toward ocean’s pull, away from bright
    developments on borrowed sand
    distractions built for our delight

    Their shells feed plants that hold the land
    Their teeth cut grass in beds unmanned
    so shrimp and tuna fill our plates
    How long before it’s out of hand?

    In nets we’ve added turtle gates
    to slow the speed we decimate
    yet plastics, motors, volleyball
    we don’t pretend to abdicate

    One hundred million years in thrall
    to tides, magnetic fields, the call
    of birth: their primal journey home
    to make one more survival crawl

    Perhaps a guilt-filled chromosome
    commands that we revise our tome
    or maybe we deny from womb
    that both will end the stuff of loam

  8. PressOn


    Bird feeders here are banquet row;
    the occupants like so, also
    to hawks that course the hedgerow here
    in search of luncheons in the snow.

    A sharpie hawk must think it queer
    to fly, and find a window near,
    and then to find that tempered glass
    is firm, unyielding as a pier.

    One bird, perhaps too full of sass,
    accosted a tree sparrow mass;
    he chased one bird toward my house
    and wound up on his feathered ass.

    I wrapped myself in puffy blouse
    and picked him up, in hopes to rouse.
    The hawk was dazed; he blinked at me;
    perhaps he thought I was a grouse.

    Eventually he flew off, free,
    and coursed between my house and tree;
    before he left my garden, he
    whitewashed my window, expertly.

    —- William Preston

  9. Beth

    Here’s my go at it…


    Edward was my unborn brother
    one of three who left my mother
    two of us came to assuage her loss
    me, the girl, and Ron, the other

    We gave her both gold and dross
    our genders were but a coin toss
    I wonder what the other two be
    perhaps girls with eyes of moss

    They went before loss number three
    One before Ron and one before he
    nameless, sexless, cords unshorn
    one, Ron, two, Edward, then me

    Acknowledgement of those unborn
    from the womb Nature-torn
    who left this world with cords unshorn
    from the womb Nature-torn

  10. MarciaG

    Precious Garden

    the petals spread, wilt, fall.
    the scents, they are hardly here at all
    and then are gone, and leaves
    are all that are left, and we try to stall.

    the ashen sky of autumn grieves.
    blurred memories the winter weaves,
    waiting for time again to feel
    that brief display which spring achieves.

    we see it pass and think it real.
    it certainly has true appeal!
    but soon it changes character
    and fades, weather arid, skies teal.

    but yes, it does create a stir,
    a fact from which one might infer
    importance underneath it lies,
    some thing of note, but the truth is a blur.

    what conjures it before our eyes
    is when desire adopts some guise
    to shine its eternal magic on,
    in hopes the effect satisfies.

    the fleeting and eternal spawn
    between them that which has its dawn
    and goes its season’s round—a blend
    of weather, a thought—and then at last is gone.

    and yes, the garden’s fragrant blend
    that beckons has its reason: send
    one’s type into the future; stamp
    on life the way you’d have it bend.

    and so, the flowers form a lamp
    that lights up where our ground is damp
    with purpose—hints at what we are, an identity newly found
    by where intuitive desires within us camp.

    these vain attractions lying round
    distract us from the path that’s sound
    and does not fade, though we lose sight
    and scent of it, like inept hound:

    that path demands we stand up right,
    above our garden’s rare delight,
    to hear the rarer, truer call
    of our inner mirror in the night.

    -Gayatri Rajan, age 11

    1. Sasha A. Palmer

      My favorite stanza is the one before last, love the image of an “inept hound losing the sight and scent of a sound path.”
      Don’t lose sight of your writing, Gayatri, keep on weaving your words and dreams. All the best.

  11. Sasha A. Palmer

    When in the night I lay awake
    The moon became a silver lake
    Across it swam a single swan
    That turned into a white snowflake

    It grew until the lake was gone
    Beneath the crystals, clear as drawn
    Then burst into a million stars
    That fell until the break of dawn

    Like rays of light through prison bars
    Like gems adorning crowns of tsars
    They fell as I succumbed to sleep
    Like healing drops upon fresh scars

  12. Michelle Hed

    White Slumber

    The haunting melody of slumber looms
    its silence lies heavy in winter’s fumes.
    I know not which hour I’m currently in
    for the weak sunshine barely warms these rooms.

    I seek a way to beat winter, to win,
    to wipe off winter’s frigid, cruel grin
    I long for the warmth of a singing bird
    but here I sit contemplating that gin.

    I turn away in disgust, feeling spurred
    I am after all an artistic nerd.
    It is time my vision or voice is heard
    be it painting or through the written word.

  13. Michelle Hed

    The Art of Winter

    The blinding sunshine of a winter’s day
    belies the warmth to those outside at play.
    I sit by my window painting in spring
    bits of cheer to chase the cold fingers away.

    I dabble warm hues for the flower’s wing
    and dream I can just hear these birdies sing.
    With music playing and a cup of tea
    my birdies soften winter’s slapping sting.

  14. PressOn


    The chicory bloomed in June this year,
    a month before it should appear;
    it brought its flowers, purply-blue,
    before the corn could bud an ear.

    And so the summer comes anew,
    with heat that curdles through and through;
    bringing with it high buttermilk skies
    that long for clouds and stifle dew.

    As summer passes, songbirds’ cries
    will gradually fade; the bugs and flies
    will be the only creatures here
    to treat the season as paradise.

    By summer’s end, the land, then sere,
    will pay a price both hard and dear.
    The chicory bloomed in June this year,
    a month before it should appear.

    —- William Preston

  15. PressOn


    When winter winds return and blow,
    my dreams are cloaked in indigo:
    we walk again, once more a pair,
    across the bright and crunching snow.

    I feel again the morning air
    and watch the sun emboss your hair;
    the dried corn still perfumes my mind
    and snowbirds join us, pair to pair.

    These visions hold me in their bind:
    the diamond ponds I left behind;
    the cleanest sky I ever knew,
    and there was you, beauty defined.

    Now I know, whatever I do,
    a part of me is there with you.
    Frozen in gold, burning in blue,
    a part of me is there with you.

    —- William Preston

    1. Jane Shlensky

      Bill, both of these are so full of sensory images I can almost wear them. The word choices too–curdling heat, buttermilk clouds, indigo dreams. Just lovely.

  16. Bruce Niedt

    Rubaiyat for D.B.

    O Ziggy Stardust, Thin White Duke,
    androgynous, cool as a cuke,
    O Major Tom (to Ground Control),
    chameleon, you were no fluke.

    From glam to funk to Philly soul,
    you’d dance and swing and rock and roll.
    O Starman, Man Who Fell to Earth,
    or Goblin King – you owned each role.

    From Rome to Rio, Prague to Perth,
    you toured for all that you were worth.
    From Rebel Rebel to DJ,
    each music phase was a rebirth.

    This morning when you passed away,
    the heavens felt a little sway.
    I went outside to take a look –
    the stars look different today.


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