WD Poetic Form Challenge: Ovillejo

Time for a new WD Poetic Form Challenge! This time around, we’re focused on the ovillejo. Find the rules for ovillejo poems by clicking here. It involves 10 lines (3 couplets and 1 quatrain) with a specific rhyme scheme.

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 June 30, 2016.
  • Poets can enter as many ovillejo 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  • All poems should be previously unpublished.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 ovillejo. They’re fun to write; I promise.
  • I will only consider ovillejo 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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212 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Ovillejo

  1. pipersfancy

    Summer’s Freedom
    —Christina Perry

    Summer’s freedom floats on the air—
    Have you been there?
    Where daily moments stop—pause—
    moth wings of gauze
    catch the slightest breeze, rise upward,
    drift forward.

    My creative Spirit thaws, stirred
    alive by Nature’s glorious feast!
    Summer’s selfless time is uncreased—
    Have you been there? Moth wings of gauze drift forward.

  2. Nancy Posey

    Denial After Years of Oil of Olay

    Before the glass they hear her cries:
    The mirror lies.

    Whose is that aging face I see?
    It can’t be me.

    The sagging lids, the wrinkled brow
    I’m seeing now

    My youth has fled, I don’t know how.
    It breaks my heart to face the truth.
    Some devil came and stole my youth!
    The mirror lies. It can’t be me I’m seeing now.

  3. Karen

    by: Karen Wilson

    I release this fear inside me
    plant new seeds.

    Don’t put the cart before the horse
    steady the course.

    Find my voice and ways to express
    I’ll get there yet.

    Stash some sunshine in my pocket
    illuminate those moonless nights
    sleep elusive stars out of sight
    plant new seeds; steady the course I’ll get there yet.

  4. grcran


    bombs fall. gods war. soldiers go home.
    why pen this poem?
    mom loves. dad works. all. most. gentile.
    are you for real?
    can’t read. won’t try. is not okay.
    write anyway.
    right words may garnish great payday.
    bring something new to the world view.
    land on the base of some statue.
    why pen this poem? are you for real? write anyway.

    gpr crane

  5. Asha1000

    Getting On In Age

    Shampoo to polish dull silver,
    knees quiver.

    A pill to tone my heart and lungs.
    I got swung.

    Brain cloudy, sometimes, in a daze,
    time to graze.

    When I was young and in the craze,
    I thought I’d never grow this old,
    and though I try to be as bold,
    knees quiver, I got swung, time to graze.

    – Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming

  6. pmwanken

    ALL WORK AND NO PLAY? by Paula Wanken

    Work ought to be a place to play.
    The day

    should be spent in a place where fun
    is done!

    Instead, nose to grindstone…again.
    I’m done in

    eight (ten?) hours–let the fun begin!
    After my drive home, on a high…
    I sit down with feet up and sigh,
    “The day is done, I’m done in.”

  7. taylor graham


    Sound of footsteps when no one’s there.
    Shiver of air.

    Whoever reads the ghosted panes?
    Suns and rains.

    Who but the ghosts have Memory’s eye?
    Histories die.

    The town’s for tourists on the fly.
    And yet there was another time
    of sagas and communal rhyme.
    Shiver of air, suns and rains. Histories die.

  8. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    Dear Cupid…

    I’m a bit desperate, you see…
    Please find me

    a man who will say I love you!.
    A novio

    who will gallantly hold the door.
    Por favor…

    I want to be alone no more.
    I’m tired and a bit afraid.
    I don’t want to be an old maid…
    Please find me a novio, por favor.

    Novio: boyfriend
    Por favor: please

  9. pipersfancy


    Wolves circle ‘round our tents through night,
    a tapered light.
    Dying embers whisper passing truths,
    embracing youth’s
    existence through a boundless dark—
    phosphorous spark!

    Skyward aiming, we’ll leave a mark
    trading hope for opportunity
    to live out lives with impunity—
    a tapered light embracing youth’s phosphorous spark.
    —Christina Perry

    1. pipersfancy

      Wolves (edit)

      Wolves circle ‘round our tents at night.
      A tapered light
      of dying embers whispers passing truths,
      embracing youth’s
      existence through the boundless dark—
      phosphorous spark!

      Skyward aiming, we’ll leave our mark,
      trading hope for opportunity
      to live out lives with impunity—
      A tapered light embracing youth’s phosphorous spark.
      —Christina Perry

  10. Pwriter10

    HOW TO SAY GOOD-BYE by DeAndre Oolong

    We war-huddle hugged one last time,

    No chance to dine
    Or hide from the once-human scents
    On the incense
    Of gun-smoke that swallowed our cries.

    Of her eyes,
    He spoke daily, always surprised
    As if by thinking, he summoned
    Her ghost (or she, his). In the end,

    No chance to dine on the incense of her eyes.

  11. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    Dear Diary…

    I’m sorry for being so boring.
    Caught you snoring

    when I mentioned my dog Steven;
    yawning even

    when I described my chicken stew…
    How rude of you!

    And when I bought that new shampoo,
    you laughed so hard. Go, ahead! Deny
    the fact that you don’t care ’cause I
    caught you snoring, yawning even… How rude of you!

    1. audj133

      About A Cat

      What does a kitty like to do?
      Sleep the day through.

      Why does he run throughout the house?
      To chase a mouse

      Why does he like a mouse to eat?
      For a treat

      He treads lightly on padded feet
      Roaming around throughout the night
      Keeping favorite things in sight –
      Sleep the day through to chase a mouse for a treat

  12. Bruce Niedt

    There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on how short the shorter lines have to be – I have seen ovillejos with just two syllables in the shorter line, in fact some of the entries here use that variation. So here is mine:

    Another Round

    Near the stop at Church and Main
    the rain
    pelts his hooded head. Just one beer
    won’t clear
    his gloom and ache. The bus comes soon.

    By noon,
    he’ll be in Jack’s, and tilt his worn moon-
    face against another glass,
    and ask how long this all will last.

    The rain won’t clear by noon.

  13. Pwriter10


    With a rocky gut, I half-stare,

    That canyons cannot really speak –
    The memories leak.

    I hear echoes of the past.
    Will it last

    Or will our heartbeats, fleeting fast,
    Send minor tremors to the sky:
    The lyrics to life’s lullaby.
    Half-aware, the memories leak. Will it last?

  14. Jane Shlensky

    A World for Children

    If little girls love rainbow light
    with such delight

    a many-colored wonder spun
    of love begun,

    why does the world aspire to hate,

    with anger, malice incarnate?
    What scary choices do we make
    teaching the young to fake and take?
    With such delight of love begun, reciprocate!

  15. Jane Shlensky

    Summer Rain

    The pitter-pat of banjo rain
    tin-roof’s refrain

    drums steadily within my head
    erases dread

    with its rhythm. Sweet nature hums
    ciphering sums

    of all we owe to pulse’s strums.
    So every bird performs its songs
    of how each one of us belongs.
    Tin-roof’s refrain erases dread, ciphering sums.

    1. PressOn

      “Banjo rain” captivated me immediately, and “…every bird performs its songs / of how each one of us belongs” put the perfect cap on it. Wonderful.

  16. Jane Shlensky

    Miss Hilda

    She aims to fall on softer ground
    make not a sound

    to jangle joggers on the path.
    Incur no wrath.

    She wouldn’t want to trouble us
    or cause a fuss

    Exactly why can’t we discuss
    her frail existence and our own
    inaction? Someday we’ll atone,
    make not a sound, incur no wrath or cause a fuss.

  17. PressOn


    In March, when snow feeds sluggish springs,
    it sings
    as muted green proclaims rebirth
    of earth;
    it cuts through cold that mingles strife
    and life,
    the very edge of April’s knife.
    When grey seems poised to rule the day
    and smother tints forecasting May,
    it sings of earth and life.

  18. Pwriter10

    REALITY TV CHEF by DeAndre Oolong

    Please note how salty hands don’t waste
    The perfect taste.
    Your body stone as you end this set
    With chocolate,
    Then a slopping cup of sweet cream.
    In a dream
    Or a whir of light, you seem
    Composed. Much more than I would be –
    Your only chance to pocket money –
    The perfect taste with chocolate in a dream.

  19. lsteadly

    Love Lost

    News of another friend’s divorce
    their love off course

    Unravels in sadness apart
    fractures the heart

    Dreams with their children cast aside
    with no guide

    Laughter falls silent, smiles denied
    Uncertainties challenge us all
    We cry as they stumble and fall
    Their love off course fractures the heart with no guide

  20. Jane Shlensky

    Like a Song

    A pond, red bob, rod, and reeling
    I’m feeling

    fish nibble and tug, thus proving
    life is moving

    with an unseen pulse, felt so strong
    like a song

    that rises when we most belong
    to sky, to grace, to morning air,
    to a belief something is there.
    I’m feeling life is moving like a song.

  21. Jane Shlensky

    Visiting the VA Hospital

    Old friend, I see you humbled there
    nursing despair,

    your hands up-ended in your lap.
    I smile and snap

    my fingers to return you from
    counting wars’ sum.

    Some memories can strike us dumb
    if we do not displace them, grind
    them into dust within the mind.
    Nursing despair, I smile and snap, counting wars’ sum.

  22. Jane Shlensky


    Never mind that I am crying.
    I’m trying

    to weep away the things I feel
    to heal

    the past and future on a shelf,

    wounded and weary, all my pelf
    stored, boxed, discounted, starting fresh,
    my scars no longer pressed in flesh.
    I’m trying to heal myself.

  23. Jane Shlensky

    Time Warps

    Our ambling walk down lonely lanes
    (our hope explains)

    means we are works in slow progress.
    We often guess—

    since worlds of what we dream or think
    change in a blink:

    like faith’s mirages, life is pink
    then fading gray; time slips away
    while we grasp for its silken sway.
    Our hope explains, we often guess and change in a blink.

    1. Pwriter10

      I am on verge of cheering but something holds me back. The built-up promised a grand philosophical takeaway, but I don’t know whether the last line fulfilled it. 6.5 stars

  24. DMK


    Passion Flower and Cat Nip Tea
    made for me
    Depression, muscle cramps from the drop
    make it stop!
    Hyssop added purple to clear
    My Lord, my deer
    When will heavens gate appear
    No eyes to see or ears to hear
    Might need something stronger than a beer
    Where are all the seers?
    made for me, make it stop,My Lord, my dear.

    1. DMK


      Passion Flower and Catnip Tea
      made for me.
      Depression, muscle cramps from the drop.
      Make it stop!
      Hyssop added, purple to clear.
      My LORD, my dear
      When will heaven’s gate appear?
      No eyes to see or ears to hear.
      Might need something stronger than a beer.
      Where are all the seers?
      made fore me, make it stop, My LORD, my dear.

  25. Jacqueline Hallenbeck


    my poem is divorcing me
    stinks, says he
    i offer to give him a bath
    but when he laughs
    at my attempts to reconcile
    relieved, i smile
    and know that for a little while
    he will remain my masterpiece
    for he is mine and i am his…
    stinks, says he, but when he laughs, relieved i smile

    1. Pwriter10

      Great concept! The “stinks, says he” line holds it back a little in both spots. A stronger word choice there would make it that much more impact fil.

      7 stars

  26. lsteadly

    Heed Her Cries

    Too many four-leggeds die here
    crossing in fear
    these black ribbons that take us where
    the world may dare
    you to forget them where they lie
    to hear them cry
    How many ways can Nature sigh
    with sadness as we destroy her
    darlings for progress in a blur
    crossing in fear the world may dare to hear them cry

    Lisa L Stead

  27. Pwriter10

    WILL I SEE YOU AGAIN? by DeAndre Oolong

    Will you speak? Please, no berating.
    I’m waiting

    to hear you say, “Sorry.” But most,
    I want your ghost,

    your memories, to leave me here.
    To appear

    normal, despite this love-caused fear?
    It takes every soul-strong ounce
    to stop my cat-like tears mid-pounce.
    I’m waiting. I want your ghost to appear.

  28. mjdills

    Ovillejo to the Aging Thespian (for Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi)

    The stage is ours to act upon,
    Though gone
    Will someday be the bright illuming lights
    Of Opening Nights;
    And so we watch, observe those of a lesser age
    Cavort with joy and rage.
    Vicariously, as we rest on tottering feet, offstage,
    Cheering wildly, yet we don’t pretend,
    Perceiving our prospects presently will come to an end;
    Pass torches on, as we might, to youthful sage.

  29. Pwriter10

    AN OLD JOKE by DeAndre Oolong

    Why did the chicken cross the road?
    So it goes
    As if we care why others do
    What they do.
    As long as he’s not splattered,
    It doesn’t matter.
    For all we know his thoughts were scattered,
    Too many passions in his core,
    Thought a million things not thought before.
    So it goes. What they do doesn’t matter.

  30. Pwriter10

    TO MY WIFE ON A ROAD TRIP by DeAndre Oolong

    My palm tree in winter, you shine.
    The world behind

    Could fade away, a starless sky.
    No reason why

    My heart is an untamed weapon.
    These things happen.

    You just give in. Our love will deepen
    Until we let ourselves believe
    In us. Near-fantasy, we leave
    The world behind. No reason why these things happen.

  31. Pwriter10

    MY EXCUSE by DeAndre Oolong

    But maybe what I said is right.
    “Is it a lie?”

    I could rephrase or be more blunt
    If you want.

    Truth is true – no need to weave it
    To believe it.

    Your heart won’t let my words deceive it?
    What of my actions or my thoughts?
    Maybe I know things you weren’t taught.
    Is it a lie if you want to believe it?

  32. Pwriter10

    HALF-WAY-NEVER by DeAndre Oolong

    I built a castle in your eyes,
    My surprise.

    Your vapid stare betrays the lie.
    It’s good-bye –

    If not now, some soon-forever.
    We’re severed.

    I wish there was a half-way-never
    In the middle of our ‘nowhere.’
    And on my terms, I’d take you there.
    My surprise. “It’s goodbye. We’re severed.”

  33. DMK

    Murder or Suicide of Cheryl said?
    by Dmk

    Unknown Betrayal kiss on cheek
    Drown in a creek.
    Childhood friend, Mike’s wife….endless day
    Away, away
    Cheryl found pale bag around her head
    late, badge, dead, dead
    Murder or suicide said?
    Phalangeal dents mark her throat
    Span larger than her smallish hand
    drown in a creek, away, away, late, badge, dead, dead

  34. Pwriter10

    NUANCE by DeAndre Oolong

    Your look. Was it something I said?
    How my words bled

    Out from my soul? Did it sound strange?
    I can’t change

    How it caused you this pain today.
    Any way,

    It won’t excuse the way I say
    Things – if I ignore how it made
    You feel. Will this memory fade –
    How my words bled? I can’t change any way.

  35. Rochelle Medina

    Raining in my Eyes

    Clouds getting heavy on the sky
    When I cried.

    As tears are falling on my face
    Then, there’s rain.

    I cannot stop, still pours down
    To my eyes.

    It takes a while, soon rain will stop
    I’ll be okay, the sun will shine
    I’m holding on, my tears will dry
    When I cried, then there’s rain, to my eyes.

  36. Pwriter10


    It seemed a good way to lose weight.
    It was late

    And it stumbled, fluttered really.
    What a feeling!

    So hot! The heat of inverse-Earth.
    Heat giving birth

    To pain and sweat, a thimble’s worth.
    You said it never had a chance.
    A hot-cold marriage. Your icy hands.
    It was late. What a feeling! Heat giving birth.

  37. Pwriter10

    TRAINING AN OLD DOG by DeAndre Oolong

    I’m having another baby.

    Someday I will learn to play catch.
    I’ll fetch

    A bottle or two. Not for you, dear.
    A beer.

    There’ll be days I’ll roll over to hear
    You cry. I’ll only want to sleep.
    I’ll “pray to God my soul to keep.”
    Maybe I’ll fetch a beer.

  38. Rochelle Medina

    One Last Breath
    Time stood still when you need to go
    Please don’t leave me.

    I cannot help to wipe my tears
    Take me with you.

    As you came into one last breath
    I beg you so.

    Why you have to leave me so soon
    For I don’t know, I cannot bear
    I want to be with you always
    Please don’t leave me, take me with you, I beg you so.

  39. De Jackson

    Question for the Mirror on a Tuesday Afternoon

    I ask, wholly to be a fool:
    Who are you
    when no one’s looking? You see,
    to tell me
    would be a walk in sinking sand.
    Who I am
    doesn’t change from sea to land.
    I’ve been given both roots and wings,
    So I’ll ask you just this one thing:
    Who are you to tell me who I am?


  40. De Jackson

    Night Sky Waiting

    Under ebony scrim we’ve found
    the only sound
    is the song of our slanted bliss.
    Left is
    right, and rights the rhythm of our chests.
    Our own breath
    is stolen by sky’s black dress.
    Our lungs stretch to get their fill,
    and we’ll swallow these stars until
    the only sound left is our own breath.

  41. De Jackson

    Little Cat with a Bundle of String

    The setting sun’s a golden cat –
    imagine that.
    On filament of wit and whim
    the earth spins
    itself a yarn of sacred ground –
    backward, found
    in its own whiskered pounce, unbound.
    Hold crimson on your hungry tongue;
    Not all is lost, the eve has won.
    Imagine that the earth spins backward, found.


  42. De Jackson

    Bundles of Time, and Tide

    We’ve unnoticed it way too soon:
    the moon’s
    penchant for breaking the shore,
    an open door.
    We hold hands both bartered and bruised;
    step on through.
    No matter what else we might do,
    we lose ourselves in shifting sands
    to find our selves in distant lands.
    The moon’s an open door; step on through.


    1. Pwriter10

      Everything was awesome except the “distant lands” line – rewrite that to fit the smooth tone of the rest and you have a winner – 9 stars

  43. Pwriter10

    GAMES THAT MATTER by DeAndre Oolong

    I misremembered your last name.
    It’s all the same

    To me if you no longer want
    To speak but

    I hope you accept this kiss and
    Try to listen.

    The light in your hair glistens,
    The half-halo of an angel’s child.
    I know my words can make you wild.
    It’s all the same to speak, but try to listen.

  44. Pwriter10

    TWO HUNDRED CIRCLES by DeAndre Oolong

    If everyone on earth would stand

    We would circle two hundred times.
    Endless lives

    But still only a football field wide,

    And how to deal with suicide!
    The earth won’t shrink to fill in space.
    Old hearts must simply be replaced.
    Hand-in-hand, endless lives, side-by-side.

  45. Rochelle Medina

    Being with You

    Wandering thoughts I have for you
    As I wait.

    Looking forward to each mornings
    To see you.

    For I long to feel your heartbeat
    Next to mine.

    I thought my life would be empty
    Until you came and stole my heart
    Being closer is all I want
    As I wait, to see you, next to mine.

  46. Rochelle Medina

    Wish Come True
    I felt every woman dream of
    As a mother.

    Who complete her in every way
    My only wish.

    A wonderful blessing to have
    My own child.

    I have waited so long to see
    With tears of joy to hear you cry
    As I carried you in my arms
    As a mother, my only wish, my own child.

  47. Rochelle Medina

    Hurting Inside

    Am I to blame for what happened ?
    Yes, you are.

    Are you willing to forgive me?
    You hurt me so.

    Is there a chance we can be friends?
    I don’t know.

    Forgive me for what I have done
    If only I can stay awhile,
    But I have to go, say goodbye
    Yes you are, you hurt me so, I don’t know.


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