Poetry Friday: a dog-gone septercet challenge

poetryfridaybutton-fulllWay back at the beginning of the month, Jane Yolen visited the blog of my friend and fellow poet/blogger Michelle H. Barnes, Today’s Little Ditty to discuss her writing, her inspiration, and a poetic form she created called the septercet.

A septercet is a poem consisting of any number of 3-line stanzas (or tercets, as we call them), each with 7 syllables (hence, the “sept” in septercet). Michelle’s blog readers were challenged to write their own septercets, and they met the challenge head-on…submitting FIFTY different poems in one month!

Now, just because each line is seven syllables doesn’t mean a nice rhythm cannot be achieved. And just because it doesn’t need to rhyme doesn’t mean I was going to let the opportunity for an even harder challenge slip by! Here’s what I came up with:


Give me room to be your friend;
give me space to stretch and run,
a place to sleep, time to mend.

Yes, I owe so much to you.
I am not ungrateful, no –
though I’m tired, and starving, too.

My whole world has been a cage,
cold and cramped. I should not ask
for anything, at my age,

nor should I expect concern,
love, or care – yet, here I am,
a new home, rules, words to learn.

Neither knows how this will end,
but I am loyal. Trust me, please.
Give me time; I’ll be your friend.

– © 2016, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Aside from the rhyme and rhythm I wanted to create, I tried hard to steer clear of “filler” words, like “the,” “just,” “quite,” and any other words that might be accused of padding the syllable count or aiding the rhythm. Granted, sometimes those words are absolutely necessary – but often, they serve no purpose in moving a narrative forward or developing a scene, which is why it is one of the first pieces of writing advice I share with budding poets. (Haiku, in particular, requires extreme word economy and has no room for any word that does not contribute to the power of the imagery)

In the mood for more poetry? Karen Edmisten is hosting Poetry Friday today! And again, be sure to check out all the septercets at Michelle’s blog HERE.

Mishka, one of our recent foster dogs who found a forever home just two days after she arrived! One of the sweetest, most mellow dogs I’ve ever known.


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27 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: a dog-gone septercet challenge

  1. lindabaie

    My daughter & family recently adopted a two year old cattle dog from a rescue group, their third. I’ll share this with them Matt, sweet voice, and poignant, too.


  2. dmayr

    Of course, I pictured a cat! >^ ^<

    I agree with you about the unnecessary words. I call them "junk words." Two others to look for are "so" and "very." I'm ambivalent about "the." I sometimes agonize over whether I should use "the" as in "the cat" or "a" as in "a cat."


    1. Well, it COULD be a cat – I am a cat person, after all. 😉

      Sometimes a ‘the’ or ‘a’ is necessary, I recognize that…I just try to dispense with them if & when I can. And it’s one of those simple things a budding poet can learn to help practice word economy.


  3. I usually put in WAY too many “and”s and “the”s in a first writing. Then I make myself go back and imagine taking them out. If they don’t NEED to be there, I trash them. Sometimes they stay when I can’t get the rhythm right without them, but usually it means there needs to be a different word in there somewhere to strike the balance. I have never been disappointed taking a junk word out, only in leaving one in!
    Sweet poem, sweet dog!


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