WD Poetic Form Challenge: Madrigal

Earlier this week, I hinted it was coming, and here it is: the next WD Poetic Form Challenge. Of course, we’ll be writing the madrigal, specifically the English madrigal, for this challenge. Click here to read the guidelines for the madrigal.

Once you know the rules for the madrigal, 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.)

The golden shovel challenge drew 750+ comments–so consider the bar raised.

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 August 31, 2014.
  • Poets can enter as many madrigals 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  • All poems should be previously unpublished.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@fwmedia.com. Or just write a new madrigal.
  • I will only consider madrigals 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!
2015 Poet's Market

2015 Poet’s Market

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The 2015 Poet’s Market is now available for pre-order at a discounted price. Get the most up-to-date information for publishing your poetry, including listings for book and chapbook publishers, magazines and journals, contests and awards, and more!

Plus, this edition includes information on poetic forms, poet interviews, articles on the craft and business of poetry, and so much more!

Click to continue.

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roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He loves reading poetry, writing poetry, and studying poetry–but he especially loves sharing poetry and is happy that Poetic Asides is a place that accommodates just that.

Walks in the park, kissing after dark, watching Jimmy Stewart films–these are some of the other things that Robert enjoys. He writes nearly daily and is happy to sacrifice cable TV to continue this practice.

Robert is married to the 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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452 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Madrigal

  1. grcran

    Meet Her

    When you agree to meet, we will convene
    The one you knew will never be the same
    Go now, and yes, allow her in between

    your old age and your death: she’s your new queen
    This ladykin can dance, she’s quite a dame
    Once you agree to meet, we’ll reconvene
    And who you knew will never be the same

    Ecstatic joy contentment insight keen
    She brings love’s latent self, the fervent flame
    Delivers at long last to site serene
    You meet, and winding down, you reconvene
    The one you knew will always be the same
    Go now, and then, and ever in between

    by gpr crane

    1. grcran

      (gosh, I messed up the form… here’s the corrected:

      Meet Her

      The one you knew will never be the same
      When you agree to meet, we will convene
      Go now, and yes, allow her in between

      This ladykin can dance, she’s quite a dame
      You’re older, nearing death, she’s your new queen
      When who you knew will never be the same
      Then you’ll agree to meet, we’ll reconvene

      She brings love’s latent self, the fervent flame
      Ecstatic joy contentment insight keen
      Delivery at last to site serene
      The one you knew will always be the same
      You meet, and winding down, you reconvene
      Go now, and then, and ever in between

      by gpr crane

  2. grcran

    Comeuppance

    Beer sludge does ooze, it dreams in its own way
    It permeates the air the land the sea
    I drink some part of it and then I pay

    We cannot plot the path from night to day
    With piece of brain no larger than a pea
    Beer sludging oozes dreaming milky way
    With permutation air and land and sea

    My liver, other parts persuaded, they
    disease relentless, ganging up on me
    And take me to the ocean to the quay
    where sludge it oozes dreaming in its way
    It permeates the air the land the sea
    And drinking part of it, I kneel and pay

    by gpr crane

    1. grcran

      (sorry, here’s the corrected:

      Comeuppance

      Beer permeates the air the land the sea
      Its sludge does ooze, it dreams in its own way
      I drink some part of it and then I pay

      With piece of brain no larger than a pea
      I cannot plot the path from night to day
      While permutating air and land and sea
      Beer sludges ooze a dreaming milky way

      Disease relentless, ganging up on me
      My liver, other parts persuaded, they
      then take me to the ocean to the quay
      beer permeating air and land and sea
      where sludges ooze it, dreaming on its way
      And drinking part of it, I kneel and pay

      by gpr crane

  3. Nancy Posey

    A Conversation with Nana

    I can’t remember if I told you this:
    I used to be as young and cute as you.
    Where did the time go? How I wish I knew.

    Sixteen before I even had a kiss,
    I knew I should withhold a thing or two.
    I can’t remember if I told you this.
    I used to be as young and cute as you.

    It’s not my youth, it’s my mind that I miss.
    As well as I remember ‘forty-two,
    Today, I’m not quite sure if I know you.
    I can’t remember if I told you this,
    I used to be as young and cute as you.
    Where did the time go? How I wish I knew.

  4. BDP

    “Back at You, Bruni”

    And I still see you, friend. You’re sweeping in,
    a coltish college freshman, Spanish class.
    You turn, grin, call out “Peters!” Love your sass—

    one word, and I’m a star. Damn marathon:
    your hepatitis then unknown. So fast!
    And I still see you, friend. You’re sweeping in,
    a coltish college freshman, Spanish class.

    I want to stop that race. No yellowed skin
    to tip us off, no sickness—you collapse
    upon the finish line. The decades pass
    and I still see you, friend. You’re sweeping in,
    a coltish college freshman, Spanish class.
    You turn, grin, call out, “Peters, love your sass!”

    –Barb Peters

  5. Margie Fuston

    Repeat

    The same old song is playing in my head.
    The one about a boy and girl alone
    under some tree with lips and buttons undone.

    And here we are again. My left arm dead.
    Your fingers squeezing the tune of muffled moans.
    The same old song is playing in my head.
    The one about a boy and girl alone.

    And here we are again. Your lips like lead.
    They say a grizzly will leave you alone
    if you can stop your heart. As I stay prone,
    the same old song is playing in my head.
    The one about a boy and girl alone
    under some tree with lips and buttons undone.

  6. PressOn

    EXCAVATION

    Just one time more across the meadowland
    we’ll walk, before the trucks and loaders come
    to change it all for profit meant for some

    who never walked this field of loam and sand.
    We must feel Earth’s reply to footfall’s thrum
    just one more time; across the meadowland
    we’ll walk, before the trucks and loaders come,

    and make believe that flowers will be grand
    when springtime comes; that birdsong will benumb
    all fear; that life will follow still its rhumb
    just one time more across the meadowland.
    We’ll walk before the trucks and loaders come
    to change it all for profit meant for some.

    William Preston

    1. grcran

      fantastic poem, William! I love the rhyming, can hear the hum of the damn machinery… my fave line is “that birdsong will benumb… (enjamb)… all fear”… thanks!

    2. BDP

      Love the use of the word “rhumb”–I had not known it before. This poem is spot on “excavation” of what happens to farmland around here in southern Wisconsin at times–beautiful rich earth plowed under for housing and concrete and asphalt. Oh, and some new saplings.

  7. taylor graham

    WHAT SHE NEEDS

    The wind-chimes, she says, don’t work anymore,
    they just hang from the rafter all day long.
    Then try, he says, to rouse them with a song,

    a wind-song bright and quick as evermore.
    But who’d believe singing could right a wrong?
    The wind-chimes, she says, don’t work anymore,
    they just hang from the rafter all day long.

    It all depends, he says, on metaphor,
    the wind of fancy dancing all along
    to set our wind-chimes clanging like a gong.
    The wind-chimes, she says, don’t work anymore,
    they just hang from the rafter all day long.
    Then try, he says, to rouse them with a song.

  8. Nancy Posey

    Avian Secrets

    The birds have secrets no one knows:
    Why the heron always flies alone.
    Where indeed has the summer gone?

    On my lawn I surprise a murder of crows
    without a clue to where it goes.
    The birds have secrets no one knows.
    Why does the heron fly alone?

    Its hermit nature, I suppose.
    The geese fly off to a warmer zone,
    a winter harvest nature has sown.
    The birds have secrets no one knows,
    while the heron always flies alone.
    Where, love, has the summer gone?

    1. PressOn

      This poem, for me, has the same wistful feel that I experience when I see hawks in a thermal. Just lovely, and it’s nice to see “murder of crows” again.

  9. Majobo

    Tart

    Hail the glorious lady in mauve and fuchsia,
    Jumping up from her leather armchair with a formidable fart,
    Dancing her way to the prize for the most admirable tart!

    Today, with her doggie in her handbag, she went to the butcher’s;
    Alone in the queue she sat, patience is an art…
    Hail the glorious lady in mauve and fuchsia
    Jumping up from the plastic chair with a formidable fart!

    She arranged around her frame scarlet ribbons and cushions
    And addressed with candidness the chauffeur of her farcical cart;
    This dignified man most happily played the part…
    Hail the glorious lady in mauve and fuchsia,
    Jumping up from her leather seat with a formidable fart,
    Dancing her way to the prize for the most admirable tart!

  10. taylor graham

    DOES ANYONE LIVE THERE?

    It sits provocative by the road’s curve,
    dusty pink stucco; no neighbors, no phone.
    It slows me down in a fifty-mile zone.

    Its frontline wrapped in a shade-subtled verve –
    a tree that buds like popped-corn. Quite alone
    it sits provocative by the road’s curve.
    Dusty pink stucco. No neighbors, no phone;

    unmodern style. What beckons me to swerve?
    What strategy in its low wall of stone?
    As if all that’s left is an empty throne
    sitting provocative by the road’s curve.
    Dusty pink stucco – no neighbors, no phone.
    It slows me down in the fifty-mile zone.

  11. Majobo

    Soulitary

    He won’t owe anything, not even an explanation,
    Not to anyone; no, not even his lover;
    Just above our existence will his kindness hover…

    Bearing his bronzed radiance as his sole justification,
    Keeping his finer feelings under elegant cover,
    He won’t owe anything, not even an explanation,
    Not to anyone; no, not even his lover!

    “Are you hoping to take your independence all the way to cremation?”
    Railed and wailed his father, his brother, his mother…
    In vain many a girl tried to break open his coffer…
    But he won’t owe anything, not even an explanation,
    Not to anyone; no, not even his lover;
    Just above our existence does his kindness hover…

  12. taylor graham

    FLUTTER

    In the garden enclave, a pink aster,
    its petals stenciled against green shade: time-
    lapse ticked and nicked by the sun’s daily climb.

    Past the fence a dog yelps; ever faster
    traffic speeds by; everything’s past its prime.
    In the garden enclave, a pink aster –
    its petals stenciled against green shade-time –

    still waits in flower for some insight vaster:
    butterflies in migration to this clime;
    union of wings with blossom, flight sublime.
    In the garden enclave, a pink aster,
    its petals stenciled against green shade: time-
    lapse ticked and nicked by the sun’s daily climb.

  13. Marie Therese Knepper

    Joe’s Madrigal

    There goes the man who whistles while he walks
    Asking the sky to take away his tears
    He’s still a whistlin’ after all these years

    Rabble-Rouser cock bloc no buddy talks
    Another protest – Sukiyaki jeers
    There goes the man who whistles while he walks
    Asking the sky to take away his tears

    Kaleidoscope hope round friendless road blocks
    Crocks hot pot fuel apocalyptic fears
    Wise man trusts what he knows not what he hears
    There goes the man who whistles while he walks
    Asking the sky to take away his tears
    He’s still a whistlin’ after all these years

    By Marie-Therese Knepper

  14. taylor graham

    LOFT LIVING

    The dusk comes early on September’s eve,
    a sylph of expectation with a blade
    of wonder piercing what today we made.

    A slipstream eases everything we leave
    undone and waiting as the colors fade.
    The dusk comes early on September’s eve.
    A sylph of expectation with a blade

    of glimmer – what we choose now to believe
    of passed days, primordial cavalcade
    of seasons, those songs the wind’s organ played.
    The dusk comes early on September’s eve,
    a sylph of expectation with a blade
    of wonder piercing what today we made.

  15. gmagrady

    YES

    Oh, come and sit a spell! Just me. Just you.
    What times we’d have if only you’d say “yes”!
    We needn’t talk of love and loss, unless…

    We can’t go on holding our breaths til blue.
    Let’s banter, laugh, and smile—forget the mess.
    Oh, come and sit a spell! Just me. Just you.
    What times we’d have, if only you’d say “yes”!

    When our life paths did cross, my friend, we knew
    not what the Lord had planned, but we were blessed.
    And now we drift away and back, distressed.
    Oh, come and sit a spell! Just me. Just you.
    What times we’d have if only you’d say “yes”!
    We needn’t talk of love and loss, unless…

    – Geralyn Magrady

  16. kjwils03

    Sibling Rivalry

    A brother and sister born five years apart
    Inside she feels nothing, yet no one can tell
    While he feels too much, locked away in a cell

    He had such potential, so gifted and smart
    She worked twice as hard and performed half as well
    A brother and sister born five years apart
    Inside she feels nothing, yet no one can tell

    They shared the same childhood, but not the same heart
    She’s successful because she can fake it well
    He’s a convicted felon in county jail
    A brother and sister born five years apart
    Inside she feels nothing, yet no one can tell
    While he feels too much, locked away in a cell

  17. kjwils03

    Murphy’s Law Monday

    It’s Murphy’s Law Monday today,
    And everything is going wrong.
    Eight hours never felt so long.

    My underwear is on display;
    These pants were suited for a thong.
    It’s Murphy’s Law Monday today,
    And everything is going wrong.

    Surprise! Aunt Flow arrived- hooray!
    Of course the meetings running long,
    No tampon on Earth is that strong.
    It’s Murphy’s Law Monday today,
    And everything is going wrong.
    Eight hours never felt so long.

  18. PressOn

    THE OLD-TIMERS TAKE THE FIELD

    Around the horn they throw the ball once more
    as they remember how they played the game
    when they were young and were so sure of fame.

    The crowd once more erupts in throated roar
    in thanks for memories that they became;
    around the horn they throw the ball once more
    as they remember how they played the game,

    and how the fields were green, and evermore
    their hearts would soar, unerring as their aim.
    Although their throws no longer hiss and flame
    around the horn, they throw the ball once more
    as they remember how they played the game
    when they were young. And were so sure of fame.

    William Preston

    1. BDP

      It’s true as time passes: “their throws no longer hiss and flame….” But I love that the players go around the horn again, remembering youth. The madrigal form is perfect for the repetition of around the horn, throwing around the bases. Nice, William!

  19. rlhZbdPOET

    Our World

    “Much Madness is divinest Sense—”
    Emily Dickinson

    Our world is insane, but most aren’t aware,
    for it takes a divine madness to see
    through the pleasing façade of sanity.

    Masses ignore all the death and despair
    because they have no bodies to bury.
    Our world is insane, but most aren’t aware,
    for it takes a divine madness to see.

    We glorify shame, and sterilize prayer.
    Old wisdom is heaved among the debris
    as hip shepherds steer us where we should be.
    Our world is insane, but most aren’t aware,
    for it takes a divine madness to see
    through the pleasing façade of sanity.

    RL Hodges

  20. Bruce Niedt

    Senior Discount

    Apparently I’ve reached a certain age
    where I’m forgiven at least ten percent.
    I wonder how and when my youth was spent.

    The movies, the museum and the stage
    all offer handsome discounts for this gent.
    Apparently I’ve reached a certain age
    where I’m forgiven at least ten percent.

    Nobody checks ID, they simply gauge
    me by my face and how my spine is bent.
    Free coffee doesn’t ease my discontent.
    Apparently I’ve reached a certain age
    where I’m forgiven at least ten percent.
    I wonder how and when my youth was spent.

  21. DanielAri

    “A shore thing”

    As the waves rise like curtains
    on silver screens—then we see
    their bodies flicker briefly.

    The verge and suck are certain,
    but the shapes vary like Cs
    as the waves rise like curtains
    on silver screens. Then we see

    how high they reach, uncertain
    of the tide, the flat body
    shifting imperceptibly
    as the waves rise like curtains
    on silver screens. Then we see
    their bodies flicker briefly.

    —Daniel Ari

  22. lionetravail

    The pages of the calendar are stones,
    grave-markers for the days which, timely, died,
    unlike my friend for whom Death stopped its stride.

    The date is not so infamous it hones
    a sense of dread and awe to fill inside;
    and yet, his memory is weighty like the stones
    which filled my heart when he’d, untimely, died.

    I’m working, checking dates upon my phone
    when calendar’s insistence does provide
    the blurred reminder why I have just cried:
    the day’s today, two years ago, when stones
    were just the rolling kind. But then he died,
    and thoughts of him on rocky days break stride.

  23. taylor graham

    SONG OF THE ROAD

    I’ve just been diagnosed with wanderlust.
    I’ve had it now for years – horizon’s goad
    to see beyond the bend; the itch of road;

    to leave old homey comforts to the rust
    of custom. Belt the song out, lighten load.
    I’ve just been diagnosed with wanderlust.
    I’ve had it now for years – horizon’s goad,

    how sunlight trembles flame-white in the dust;
    the quiver of a sax’s plangent ode –
    how sweet it flows, clear-channel radioed.
    I’ve just been diagnosed with wanderlust –
    I’ve had it now for years – horizon’s goad
    to see beyond the bend. The itch of road.

  24. rlhZbdPOET

    Most Prized

    Most news is bad; on occasion it’s good.
    Toward virtue we have the feathers to rise,
    yet darkness it seems is what we most prize.

    The kindness people sometimes display should
    confirm the truth of our heavenly ties.
    Most news is bad; on occasion it’s good.
    Toward virtue we have the feathers to rise.

    But noble acts are countered by falsehood.
    We gorge on ruin like underworld flies,
    tying blindfolds over tightly-cinched eyes.
    Most news is bad; on occasion it’s good.
    Toward virtue we have the feathers to rise,
    yet darkness it seems is what we most prize.

    RL Hodges

    1. PressOn

      For me, this is a powerful piece of commentary on all of us, but I like the hope that still is there in “Toward virtue we have the feathers to rise.” I feel a thermal in that.

  25. PressOn

    BEN LOMOND

    Above the loch he gleams in green and blue;
    he smiles his summer smile on all below,
    for he is happiest bereft of snow

    and winds of wintertime. All seems so new
    when harebells caress rills and days are slow
    above the loch; he gleams in green and blue;
    he smiles his summer smile on all below;

    he bids me come again. That, I would do
    if I could take the high road, but I know
    the low road waits; my time has come to flow
    above the loch. He gleams in green and blue;
    he smiles his summer smile on all below,
    for he is happiest bereft of snow.

    William Preston

  26. gmagrady

    TIME

    The pages turn to when I’m in my prime.
    I sigh. Reality is hard to face
    when knowing you’re gone and can’t be replaced.

    Sons grow—already five-seven, five-nine—
    these teens, who kiss me still before they race.
    The pages turn to when I’m in my prime.
    I sigh. Reality is hard to face.

    What happened to the future that was mine?
    You chisel away at such a quick pace,
    and as you pass, I pray I age with grace.
    The pages turn to when I’m in my prime.
    I sigh. Reality is hard to face
    when knowing you’re gone and can’t be replaced.

    -Geralyn Magrady

  27. carolyngrace

    Slow Day

    And the hours flicker away
    Chained to the chair that turns life into green
    Vacant eyes watching a blue-glowing screen

    But we haven’t wasted today
    Everyone knows our hard work has been seen
    And the hours flicker away
    Chained to the chair that turns life into green

    There is every reason to stay
    Glimpses of work with expanses between
    Thought sleeps in silence while packets careen
    And the hours flicker away
    Chained to the chair that turns life into green
    Vacant eyes watching a blue-glowing screen

    Carolyn Grace

  28. Bruce Niedt

    Elegy for Robin

    You earned your reputation as a clown,
    ad-libbed your way through crazy, manic roles,
    while bouncing back and forth between two poles.

    You made sure no one ever saw you frown;
    you did your best to climb out of the holes.
    You earned your reputation as a clown,
    ad-libbed your way through crazy, manic roles.

    We cried the day we heard they cut you down.
    Although you had achieved such lofty goals,
    your demons have collected all their tolls.
    Your earned your reputation as a clown,
    ad-libbed your way through crazy, manic roles,
    while bouncing back and forth between two poles.

  29. PressOn

    A TREE IN AN ENGLISH GARDEN

    There it stands, an oak so gnarled and old,
    its very trunk seems veined in marbled wood;
    its limbs are living links to ancient good,

    to stories told with hints of burnished gold
    that hearken back to days of Robin Hood.
    There it stands, an oak so gnarled and old,
    its very trunk seems veined in marbled wood;

    and when I touch it in a time of cold
    I feel a breath of warmth. I think I could
    converse with it, and would be understood.
    There it stands, an oak so gnarled and old,
    its very trunk seems veined in marbled wood.
    Its limbs are living links to ancient good.

    William Preston

    1. TomNeal

      This madrigal is a fine fusion of form and content. As I do not want ‘to murder to dissect’*, I’ll stop at that.

      Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
      Our meddling intellect
      Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
      We murder to dissect.

  30. Marian O'Brien Paul

    Shifting Flames

    So soft the sway of courtyard tree:
    the rustling leaves reflecting sun
    like shifting flames of green, each one.

    The gentle wind caressing me,
    my ears attune to music spun
    by softly swaying courtyard tree,
    the rustling leaves reflecting sun.

    My eyes imbibe the luster, free
    for all witness, gift that none
    can purchase, gift to wholly stun:
    so soft the sway of courtyard tree,
    the rustling leaves reflecting sun
    like shifting flames of green, each one.

  31. Jane Shlensky

    Gentleman Farmer

    He needs a pasture for his pastoral,
    a herd of belted cows, a flock of sheep,
    and someone else to tend them, let him sleep.

    He fancies nature bolstering morale,
    that scrub and weeds don’t grow, that labor’s cheap.
    He needs a pasture for his pastoral,
    a herd of belted cows, a flock of sheep.

    Perhaps he’ll paint, compose a grand chorale.
    He doesn’t care for outside work, upkeep.
    He wants serenity, his land’s green sweep.
    He needs a pasture for his pastoral,
    a herd of belted cows, a flock of sheep,
    and someone else to tend them, let him sleep.

  32. Jane Shlensky

    Disappointment

    She missed him long before his plane had gone
    and built true love though memories were few—
    imagination, longing, spit, and glue.

    Brief conjured moments made him hers alone;
    embracing phantom joys, her passion grew.
    She missed him long before his plane had gone
    and built true love though memories were few.

    Reality is seldom halcyon,
    though he was much improved while out of view.
    Who can compete with dreams he never knew?
    She missed him long before his plane had gone
    and built true love though memories were few—
    imagination, longing, spit, and glue.

    1. Majobo

      A profound piece – it can be felt either as sad (which was my first reaction, like PressOn) or actually empowering: we sift through life to only collect its gems, them being but a few minutes here and there, brief pieces of unexpected beauty… We make our life (and our relationships) what we want them to be. But then reality as a whole can suddenly disrupt this dream with a shocking revelation.

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