Cinquain: Poetic Forms

I love playing with poetic forms, especially when the rules aren’t so complicated that I have trouble keeping up with the technical issues of the poem. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve flubbed up a sestina on the fourth or fifth stanza.

So I’m happy to share the cinquain, which is a nifty five-line poetic form from Adelaide Crapsey. Inspired by tanka, the cinquain is comprised of 2 syllables in the first line, 4 in the second line, 6 in the third, 8 in the fourth, and 2 in the fifth. Plus, poets have the freedom to add or subtract one syllable from each line. That’s a lot of freedom for such a small poem.

Here’s my attempt at a cinquain:


contain the days,
but is my life really
just a graph of numbers held by


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Here are some other poetic forms:

90 thoughts on “Cinquain: Poetic Forms

  1. Avatarrichardlynn

    5 Cinaquins by richard lynn livesay (8/7/13)
    Howling forlorn
    Her mate couldn’t get up
    He hung on ‘til cancer took him
    She moans

    Already past
    Tomorrow not promised
    Today, the beginning and end
    Be here

    Sleep well
    The Sandman’s here
    Sprinkling moonbeam dreams
    Be at peace with yourself and all

    Get the hatchet
    Gather up and batch it
    Put it in the trunk and latch it

    Poetry buff
    Edgar, Ezra, T.S.
    Metaphysical expression
    Hear it?

  2. AvatarCin5456

    Okay, this is the last one for today. This is too much fun; I have to stop.

    New House Guest

    nipping at my
    toes or tangled in the
    curtains. Welcome little one, my

  3. AvatarMisky


    Really hate my
    feet, sliced and minced like meat,
    Those lovely summer strappy things



    Slumber comes not
    Hot nights melt like butter
    Come cool breezes and blow away

  4. Avatarswatchcat

    Three more tries:

    What if
    there was no war
    we could all get along
    there would be nothing left to do
    what if

    Write it
    ink soaking page
    love and destiny one
    thrills and agony, ink the page
    read it

    Down down
    fall through the cracks
    reach for me and save me
    I’m falling down, there is no end
    no end

  5. AvatarJRSimmang

    Great, another addicting poetry form. I just finished my last Shadormas Anonymous meeting. Thank you Adelaide for this fun form, and thank you Robert for keeping us on our toes!

    Hoof in Mouth
    We can’t
    learn how to dance
    until I learn how to
    hold your hand. Mark tempo for my
    Home Garden
    The jays
    are eating my
    fennel, leaving me with
    grass, soil, and petunias. I can’t
    eat those.
    Eating Us
    Once more
    I sit in here,
    staring at imagined
    radiation, thinking about
    The Cost of Flight
    I can
    sympathize with
    the birds who fly close to
    the ground, looking for a doorway
    to crash.

    _JR Simmang_

  6. AvatarPressOn


    At last
    I realize
    that truth is still the truth:
    my boat still so small; the sea, still
    so wide.

    William Preston

    1. AvatarCin5456

      I love this one. It reminds me of the jazz musicians of New Orleans in a funeral procession, back in the 70s. Very Nice! The last nine syllables express that exactly.

      1. AvatarCin5456

        I love the alliteration in this one. Wonderful use of vowel sounds, too. Most of the vowels are wide open, like covering the whole floor in the dance. Just like dancing the tango, your poem is precise, and holds passion to a prescribed pattern while still being a bit wild.

        1. AvatarPressOn

          Thank you. I love that dance. Can’t do it worth a damn, but I love it. I had hoped I was able to capture some of the sweeping feeling in this little poem, so I appreciate the comment.

    1. AvatarCin5456

      It describes the south Texas coast too. I remember that feeling well. “Please, just rain and get it over with.” Too hot to move, too damp to sweat, and the rain that eventually comes is so warm it gives no relief.

  7. AvatarRJ Clarken

    Fuzzy Logic

    dice dangle from
    the rear-view mirror. I
    think about the luck it might bring.
    Let’s roll.


    Play Ball

    At bat.
    The pitch comes fast.
    Number twelve swings at it.
    Wood connects with a flying sphere.
    Foul ball.


    Snow in New York, Robert Henri, 1902

    ‘Snow in New York’
    was like journalism:
    canvas of bleak/mud on Broadway.


    Crossword Puzzle

    What’s a
    six letter word
    for the tax on imports?
    ‘Custom’? Nope. That’s not a fit with
    nine down.


    1. AvatarCin5456

      I love these. I can’t decide on a favorite between Fuzzy Logic, Play Ball, or Crossword Puzzle, but I think the latter surprised me the most. I used to love crosswords until I started writing. Then I had no time for them anymore.

  8. AvatarNancy Posey


    Last year
    we prayed for rain.
    Now we want it to stop.
    Beloved, please make up your minds,
    says God.

    Greek to Me

    Doing crossword puzzles
    I build my vocabulary.


    By noon
    the sandcastle
    we had built together
    had been washed away. Foolish men,
    Use rock.


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