WD Poetic Form Challenge: Rispetto

Before we get into the full onslaught of the April PAD Challenge, let’s complete one more WD Poetic Form Challenge. This time, we’ll be writing the rispetto.

There are two versions of the rispetto that I’ll accept for this challenge:

  1. Poem comprised of two quatrains written in iambic (unstress, stress) tetrameter (four feet–or, in this case, 8 syllables).
  2. Poem comprised of 8 hendecasyllabic (11-syllable) lines–usually one stanza.

Pick a version or try both.


Workshop your poetry!

Writing first draft poetry is fun and liberating. However, it’s also isolating if you don’t have a group of trusted readers to help revise the poems. In the Writer’s Digest Advanced Poetry course, poets receive the opportunity to workshop their poems with other dedicated poets.

Click to continue.


Here are the guidelines:

  • Write a previously unpublished rispetto and share in the comments below.
  • Include your name as you’d like it to be published–if it happens to win the challenge.
  • Deadline: 11:59 p.m. (Atlanta, GA, time) on March 27.
  • Winning poem will be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine.
  • No fees or special registration required.
  • Everyone is encouraged to participate.
  • Note: If you’re new to commenting on this site, it may take a day or two for your comment to appear–as I (or another editor) will have to manually approve. After that initial approval though, comments should appear as you post.

Good luck!


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138 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Rispetto

  1. Linda Hatton


    Life’s never fair at Old Oaks Ranch, kids do things
    like scrawl spite on mailboxes while innocence
    sleeps, shut in by bludgeoned words, truants fighting
    for rights to hate another, belligerence
    guides all thoughts and words, neighborhood troops suppress
    random acts of kindness with plastic pellet
    guns. Children misdirected must be addressed,
    may loving care be the only true bullet.

  2. Linda Hatton

    Sooo many good poems here! Wow! I am writing to the tune of screaming teenagers in the background! Ack! A fun form that I would like to play with some more. The ones I’ve written are a bit clumsy, but I want to play along anyway.


    Blue Collared

    Green waves of palm fronds brush moisture-less breezes
    while lady swings on porch of absent callers,
    a dot on horizon, her hero, freezes
    his future, entire life wasted for dollars
    placed inside a stranger’s purse feeding greedy
    wishes for possessions money cannot buy,
    filling space inside that makes him feel needy
    for love forgotten, enduring short supply.

  3. Originality

    Traffic Lights

    There is a constant traffic stalling my mind
    My muse attempts to explain the mechanics
    To decongest my mind with reds, yellows, greens
    With turns and parallels and directing signs
    I find myself slamming breaks, traffic remains
    All I want is to write this song, but just find
    Myself lying in bed in company of
    A guitar I don’t even know how to play.

    -Lahevet P.

  4. Originality


    You were part of my memory
    Lines and images forming shapes
    There to stay, twisting with the pass-
    age of time, never did I think

    That lines and images would break
    The boundaries of my mind, and
    Past would enter into present
    “How have you been doing?” you ask.

    -Lahevet P.

  5. Originality

    Power Play

    The sea, a raging bitch foaming
    At the mouth, coming back for more
    Farther along each time, waves are
    A thin veiling curtain over

    The sand melting beneath my feet
    I crush blooming rocks under my
    Heels bury them back in the sand
    Step aside, I am walking here

    -Lahevet P.

  6. seingraham


    You said I’d know when it was time to let go
    But you were certain I could not do the deed
    You laughed when telling me the signs that would show
    what to look for if the devil came to feed
    You were correct, I knew him soon as he came
    rattling his chains in that gloomy dank night
    You were wrong to have laughed though; I just said “hey”
    let him in to spirit you off from the game

    Maybe it was not quite what you had in mind
    But you forgot to express more explicit
    Wishes you see, so I used my faith. It’s blind
    And knowing that fact I wonder what was it
    You thought I might do when you ceased your breathing
    Honestly – did you think I would pray to God
    After years of our disputes left me seething
    Consulting your Almighty would have been odd

  7. BDP

    I Believe In Pixies

    when wind dusts snow off trees to form wee bodies,
    tiny heads, legs stretched down, arms thin as incense
    sticks bright sun burns to nubs that grow again: these
    elastic sprites just seconds tinged translucent
    white light blue then gone until the gusting breeze
    once more sends twinkles into shapes too soon spent

    so I’m struck by what needs doing now, fairy
    fading, magic tangible, momentary.

    B Peters

    1. BDP

      Well, the entire poem is not supposed to be in italics–only the title and the word “now” (in line 7). I tried the HTML prompts, and thought I should lead with a prompt before the targeted word/phrase and end with a prompt after the targeted word/phrase in order to create limited italicized words. Does anyone have any advice on HTML?

  8. PKP

    Angelo Polizaiano

    Angelo Poliziano
    Shimmering son of Tuscany
    Politziano Angelo
    Eight beat coincidentally?

    The name rings rhythmic to the ear
    Two hundred rispetti penned near
    Dance! Regards! spin highest to low
    Angelo Poliziano

      1. PressOn

        Your poem was fun to read, so I’m attempting to reply in kind…


        A deadline has a way of coming
        too soon for comfort or relief
        and leaves the poet ripe for summing
        a poem that started life too brief,

        and so it is a challenge, but
        the writer tends to make the cut:
        dreading to send in nothing at all;
        preferring to show he’s on the ball.

  9. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    The last book

    In twenty-five excruciating minutes
    she will be put to death for crimes committed.
    Her exclamations of “I didn’t mean it!
    were carefully and purposely omitted
    as there is no excuse for her behavior,
    for no reader on this planet can save her
    from death. It’s too late for an apology.
    She burned it, and left us with… technology.

    (c) Jacqueline Hallenbeck

  10. taylor graham

    Stanza break got lost. Hope it comes through now.


    Huge, sleek and rusty, he hobbles
    searching over waterless sand,
    cripple without crutches; cobbles
    under flippers. This, his last stand –

    a desert without blue mirage.
    His own kind – that lost equipage –
    his chances. Sun sets into dusk.
    Oh elegant curve of his tusk.

  11. taylor graham


    Huge, sleek and rusty, he hobbles
    searching over waterless sand,
    cripple without crutches; cobbles
    under flippers. This, his last stand –
    a desert without blue mirage.
    His own kind – that lost equipage –
    his chances. Sun sets into dusk.
    Oh elegant curve of his tusk.

  12. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    If poetry were a girl…

    If poetry were a girl, she’d be my wife.
    For it, I would change gender. I’ve been writing
    it ever since I can remember. My life
    is rich and so deliriously exciting
    when I submerge myself into my pieces.
    And if it were a dude, I’d be his missus.
    If poetry proposed tomorrow, ‘tis true:
    For better and for words, I will marry you.

    (c) Jacqueline Hallenbeck

  13. LuvingLife

    A Gift Returned

    What happens when a lover stops your heart?
    And the stenosis makes the love cease to be.
    Injected with deception, you start to mold.
    Optical hardship iced; struggling to see.
    Can you be revived in time to save your soul?
    Or will it be an inevitable goal?
    No…because with a warm cup of honesty,
    I can turn your heart back into it’s beauty.

  14. ewdupler


    A bold breeze breaches brittle bones,
    As legs lead onward, lacking heat,
    To searing sunset’s warm red tones,
    snow crunching under freezing feet.

    The leafless trees make creaking moans,
    Full moon floats free, above, discreet.
    Sometimes I walk alone like this,
    Out in the cold when life’s amiss.

  15. PressOn


    It stands in ruins on the knoll,
    the twin doors open to the wind;
    the paint is gone; the stout ridgepole
    is stunted; all appears chagrined.

    The tombstones in the dried side yard
    are faded; broken; crumbling; scarred;
    and yet the whole contains within
    the grace and peace that once had been.

    William Preston

  16. Michelle Hed

    Helen Keller

    An illness took away your sight
    and closed the door on all the noise
    but never did you quit the fight
    as you grew from dolls into poise.

    You graced us with your written word
    and your voice was strong, loudly heard.
    Your limits did not define you
    each break through, you grew, you just flew.

  17. Arwalker_79

    Kiss and Tell
    Your kisses are hot, blazing heat from the sun
    I wanted forever a touch of your love
    A burning sensation can come from the tongue
    Oh how I wasn’t thinking that night thereof
    My mind drifted places as your lips made O’s
    Softly on my neck, I felt my body froze
    When I saw your phone recording our session
    My lies are dead, only room for confession

    Archeila “Archie” Walker

  18. dandelionwine


    Through billowing sweet steam he gives voice to past
    seasons making maple, his father before
    him with two horses, six hundred taps, and last
    year not bothering, the yield projected poor.
    He jots down the temperature and gallons,
    the hours he has boiled today, then runs
    his finger down guest names and to not forget
    this particular night, writes “pretty sunset.”

    Sara Ramsdell

  19. dandelionwine


    With bands of snow late winter slips
    upon the fragile hand of spring
    and presses cold with icy lips
    to every quiet growing thing.

    Remembering each reaching bough
    the white flakes form a solemn vow
    and spring in turn affirms sweet life
    becoming winter’s perfect wife.

    Sara Ramsdell

  20. Mama Zen

    The Tree

    He was a country squire, that old, stately oak.
    Each time a breeze stirred his brown, brittle leaves
    I was certain that he spoke. I listened close,
    for his words were well disguised by the weeping
    of wound and worry, the grind of sand and time.
    Yesterday, the old tree came down as I watched
    from across the street. And, I raised my jar high
    to his voice in my mind – Farewell. Blessed be.

  21. taylor graham


    Early Sunday morning’s bright with chiming bells
    and poetry. In a circle, beaded strands
    of word and metaphor, fragile weave that tells
    how the bird lifts from a tree of praying hands.
    And after, with my dog I walk the spring fields
    to see what bounty an April morning yields –
    birdsong blossoming beyond the season’s days,
    words that would be petals of a poppy’s praise.

  22. Connie Peters


    Seeds die and birth deep roots and vine.
    And sprout some stems and leaves come out.
    Soon blossoms sow their scent and shine.
    Fruit forms to share with all about.

    Eternal Seed beneath the ground.
    His death breeds life to all around.
    And likewise, we must learn to give.
    To serve like Jesus frees to live.

  23. Ann M

    Snow on Easter Week

    When the leaf of palm is blessed
    and shrouds unfold for Friday’s woe,
    a wintry storm comes from the West
    with howling winds and swirling snow.

    We dance, despite the pending death,
    and sing beneath the doom-filled skies.
    We save the crocus with our breath
    and wait for Easter’s morning’s rise.

  24. Ann M

    Snow on Easter Week

    After the leaf of palm is blessed
    and shrouds unfold for Friday’s woe,
    a wintry storm comes from the West
    with howling winds and swirling snow.

    We dance, despite the pending death,
    and sing beneath the doom-filled skies.
    We save the crocus with our breath
    and wait for Easter’s morning’s rise.

  25. Casey

    “Gettysburg” (Rispetto #2 version, Hendecasyllabic, abab;ccdd)

    Look, and you will see her cast in radiance!
    A merciful, angelic water’s daughter…
    Lifts each ghostly soul through humid July’s dance;
    puts parch`ed lips to cups of precious water.
    She moves among the men whose glistening eyes
    follow horses hooves who break their holy cries.
    Her wagon mid the battleground’s begotten;
    She moves among the dying and forgotten.

    (Lydia Hamilton Smith, born in Gettysburg, Pa.. The daughter of an African-American mother and an Irish father. When donations withered away for Civil War veterans, she used her own earnings. Lydia was born and died on Valentine’s Day.)

    Jacqueline Casey

  26. Jane Shlensky

    Plowed Ground

    A lot can happen in plowed ground
    turned belly up to winter sky.
    Cold hollow air muffles the sound
    of birds and beasts that happen by.

    The rain and snow and sunlight’s heat
    mellow the soil for early wheat,
    and softened features of the clod
    reflect the living face of God.

  27. Mama Zen

    As Good As

    Each day is a sway between grift and grindstone.
    Each day is a strange one-legged waltz, and they say
    a woman’s only as good as the worst man
    that she lets steal her Sundays and her somedays.
    Sit, and I’ll offer you sweet tea and wisdom.
    Or, go, and I’ll show you a smile and the door.
    A woman is only as good as the shine
    on her floor. I’ve scrubbed all my footprints away.

    Kelli Simpson

  28. RJ Clarken


    “My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me.” ~Green Day, Boulevard of Broken Dreams

    I know I’m never quite alone.
    My shadow stays with me. I’ve known
    this other me: we both have grown
    through words and deeds, in hue and tone.

    I walk. My shadow keeps the pace.
    The darkness cannot quite erase
    her silent presence: still a trace
    of silhouette remains in place.


  29. JRSimmang

    It’s no longer winter, he says to me under
    the falling dead leaves of the oak in the back yard.
    It’s becoming a time where the world wakes up
    from her slumber and shakes off death. It’s certainly
    better than the alternative. What’s that, I ask,
    impatiently, staring at his empty hands, while
    mine clutch tightly the old plastic rake that has been
    an eyesore in the eyesore of the plastic shed.

    It’s that death itself walks among the living in
    this world we cling to so dearly, that we wake up,
    shake off our covers and think in the mirror that
    today might be the day we finally see the
    man behind the cloak and he raises his bony
    hand to clutch our tender throats. That’s, dark, I mutter,
    and look to the ever-darkening sky. I had
    to admit that he might finally be stark mad.

    The piles of leaves gradually whittled down to
    piles of mulch and sweat. I looked to my father, his
    gently wrinkled face and greying temples spoke to
    a calmer soul and a gently wrinkled humor.
    Don’t let me fill your head with thoughts of an old man,
    he laughs. You’ll be around much longer than I and
    that is a promise I hope to keep. You’ve got a
    good head start. Now, tomorrow we rebuild the shed.

    1. JRSimmang

      “He who comes whilst sleep”

      I am the one who speaks through teeth
      upturned and yellowed. You are under
      my spell though you believe to be
      under the veil of cold, dead nightmares.

      Seek not my face; seek not my voice.
      Seek not my post-pubescent noise.
      For if you find me in my hell,
      you’ll wake from underneath my spell.

      PS. And the title to my first is “Yardwork.”

  30. RJ Clarken

    Upward Drifting Smoke – after Papier a Cigarette Job, by Alphonse Mucha, 1896

    Her tendrils curl like the upward drifting smoke
    from the cigarette ‘tween her fingers, evoke-
    ing a come-hither urge. It is so baroque
    but that’s the point: Mucha in La Belle Epoque.
    Job Papers were the ‘sell’ with every stroke
    of the man’s sable brush. Sex in a plumed cloak
    designed to draw a man in, inflame, provoke.
    With just one word, Mucha elegantly spoke.


  31. Andrew Kreider

    Evelyn’s gift

    This year she sent me a birthday card without
    anything written in it, just a check for
    twenty-five dollars, same as always. No doubt
    she had it ready to go, propped by the door
    along with her notes to congressmen, cookies
    for the great-grandkids, and car keys. She still sees
    fine, still prays, still loves to rattle every cage,
    still forgets details like someone half her age.

    Andrew Kreider

  32. tonijoell

    Second Time Around, Less Wary than She

    I’ve memorized the shape of you beneath me,
    the way you and I become a sacred us
    through the mismatched way our lips mesh; create we—
    a word I long found so unmelodious.
    I pray that you’ve staked your claim as I am yours
    in a blind, incredulous way that restores
    the hope robbed by past reticence. Press your face
    to my breast; my heart beats your rhythm of grace.

    Toni J. Gardner


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