WD Poetic Form Challenge: Diminishing Verse

A new year means a new WD Poetic Form Challenge! And this time around, we’ll tackle diminishing verse.

Find the rules for writing diminishing verse here. Also known as vanishing verse, this form involves removing letters.

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 31, 2017.
  • Poets can enter as much diminishing verse 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  • All poems should be previously unpublished.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 new diminishing verse. It’s fun to write; I promise.
  • I will only consider diminishing verse 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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The 2017 Poet’s Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer, includes hundreds of poetry markets, including listings for poetry publications, publishers, contests, and more! With names, contact information, and submission tips, poets can find the right markets for their poetry and achieve more publication success than ever before.

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In addition to the listings, there are articles on the craft, business, and promotion of poetry–so that poets can learn the ins and outs of writing poetry and seeking publication. Plus, it includes a one-year subscription to the poetry-related information on WritersMarket.com. All in all, it’s the best resource for poets looking to secure publication.

Click to continue.


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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133 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Diminishing Verse

  1. HauntedPoet

    Okay, I’ve got two… thanks for the fun challenge.

    “The Pen is Mightier”

    With nothing more than hope and shovel,
    Martin built a cozy hovel.
    Strife encroached, he fearing bodily harm,
    His sole and logical choice was to arm.
    Marching foes came to bully and glower,
    Proclaiming his arms he must lower.
    Under threat of mobs and retributive swords,
    Martin dropped back and fought with words.

    “Vanishing Haiku”

    The cat’s milk will spill
    fighting to spit out his pill,
    bets he won’t get ill.

    Teri Cuff-Schiavi

  2. grcran

    Spin for an In

    When life takes you out for a stroll
    You’re in for a spin with a troll
    No folk music it’s rock & roll

    Then straining you’ll buckle the strap
    Misled they’ll mismanage the trap
    It’ll look like you’ve beaten the rap

    Sudden turn Now you’re stuck Such a schtick
    Taken down in your one trillionth tick
    Going back to primordial ick

    Yet you realize on crossing that strait
    That forever is more than a trait
    And the troll doesn’t matter…
    You rate

    gpr crane

  3. Jane Shlensky

    Two Views of a Winter Storm

    The snowfall has been measured, plowed,
    as pastured cattle huddled, lowed
    for hay and shelter farmers owed
    all beasts unbarned, to weather wed.

    We smell more snow and grow afraid
    of leaning limbs already frayed
    by ice, as if a birding raid
    had weighed them down, no sun to aid
    the melting of our wintered id.

  4. Karen

    by: Karen Wilson

    When plum heavens blink
    the shedding of tears link
    compassionate writers and ink

    Sorrow fills the skies
    we can’t believe our eyes

    Hatred multiplies

  5. PressOn


    I once knew a horrible wretch
    so ugly, he’d make an eel retch;
    the kind of a man who would etch
    his visage in nightmares.

    He lived in a house on the spline
    of a hill that was layered in pline;
    the entire effect was in line
    with recurring nightmares.

    He had rafts of tattoos on his skin
    and they say he molested his kin;
    no wonder he always was in
    everyone’s nightmares.

    He loosed curses and glares by the score
    and they sprang from within; at his core
    he must have been mining for ore
    to blast forth more nightmares.

    I am old now. The story is stale
    but I keep on retelling the tale;
    these days, it takes gallons of ale
    to stifle my nightmares.

    — William Preston

  6. Karen

    by: Karen Wilson

    His cruelty makes me flinch
    envisioning a thick rope to lynch
    he never gives an inch.

    Even at the end he smiles
    as he walks a dead man’s mile.

  7. Asha1000

    When Peril Stalks

    When peril stalks me through the iPhone,
    for an astrology reading I phone.
    All of my senses I wish to hone
    into a crystal ball of one
    eye bright like a sign filled with Ne.

    – Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming

  8. RuthieShev

    The Rails for the Little Engine
    By Ruth Crowell Shevock

    For the littlest engine it was a strain
    Going up a hill so high for a baby train
    Especially in the fog and the rain
    But his dad was so very clever
    And used a special kind of lever
    The littlest engine was the happiest ever
    Because he felt so very strack
    As he made it up the high track
    And smiled at his wheel based rack

  9. RuthieShev

    Happily Ever After
    By Ruth Crowell Shevock

    If the truth be told
    I love the stories of old
    Where a dragon with all his flair
    Emerges from his cave like lair
    Blowing fire from his mouth into the air
    And the rustic knight with all his charm
    Recues the princess from evil and harm
    While swinging the magic sword with his arm
    This story was written by many a drafter
    While under great beams in the rafter
    And they all lived happily ever after

  10. PressOn


    As a kid I would eat shredded wheat
    made with milk and a tidbit of heat;
    I proceeded to eat
    at the flat I was at
    till I burped. That was me to a T

    — William Preston

  11. RuthieShev

    My Elf on the Shelf
    By Ruth Crowell Shevock

    Setting all alone on my shelf
    From Harry Potter’s Helf
    Is the cutest little Elf
    I thought I was being smart
    When I got it at the mart
    Wanting a new kind of art
    But my husband would scold
    That the elf left him cold
    He looked wrinkled and old
    So for my family to blend
    My cute little elf I did lend
    To a friend for my story to end

    (For information purposes, I looked up “Helf” and there were several definitions but my favorite was “house-elf liberation front – from Harry Potter)

  12. emmagrace

    Never Enough to Eat

    “Let’s help ourselves to a good meal,” said Hansel. “I’ll eat a piece of the roof, and Gretel, you eat from the window. That will be sweet.”

    Once upon a time, there was a daughter (always), a girl so sweet.
    She cleaned and baked, kneaded when her brother gathered the wheat.
    Her father built the fire so the bread would rise in the heat.
    Never enough, though, with so many mouths to feed for Gretel to eat.

    Uxorious father led them down a path (never straight),
    And her brother laid stones, each bearing a mark, his trait,
    More valuable than money, moonstones had a high going rate.
    The stones ran out, and breadcrumbs were dough the birds ate.

    He ate the house but for his finger, a bone was surrogate.
    Hansel was fleshy, fattening, trapped by the witch behind a gate.
    His sister fed him. He ate and ate.

    Gretel spoke with her body. He couldn’t relate.
    As he fattened, she flattened. It was too late.
    Gretel lost everything. He ate and ate.

    For a boy, feeding is freeing. He tricked the witch. Strong enough to defeat
    her with his death-defying feat.
    Gretel wouldn’t eat.

  13. DanielAri

    “Spring Bells”

    When the snow finally thawed,
    Ed, who’d hemmed and hawed,
    said, “Now,” and Sue was awed
    to find herself speedily wed
    to her childhood sweetheart, Ed.

    —Daniel Ari

  14. PressOn


    A weed is rarely a plant that pleases;
    indeed, its very presence leases
    irritation that conscience rarely eases,

    even though some weeds may look as swell
    as the daughters that used to frequent Jethro’s well
    before they took their sheep back to the ell.

    No, grandeur rarely obtains with weedy strains,
    no matter how many tendrils, trails, or trains
    they have, despite the grace of springtime rains.

    But then, consider the lowly dandelion,
    a cross between a buttercup and a lion.

    — William Preston

  15. Tracy Davidson

    The Flame

    All the passion you brought,
    the emotions you wrought
    from me, more than you ought.

    Now that once brilliant flame
    has burnt out, become lame,
    true love never your aim.

  16. DanielAri

    “Tenth night in Gotham”

    The dream flashed a close-up of that truck’s back wheel,
    the reckless run of the dog who never learned heel,
    the downhill trickle entering the grate, a black eel–
    and I woke wet in neon red, the rattle of the el,
    trying to remember how I came to board at 1st and L.

    –Daniel Ari

  17. DanielAri

    “Too Much Fun”

    The American actor Charles Grodin
    and the French sculptor Auguste Rodin
    and the greatest of the Norse gods, mighty Odin
    got so drunk and rowdy, and raised such a din
    that the innkeeper threw them out and wouldn’t let them back in.

    —Daniel Ari


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