A Revision – Triolet

I pointed

When my mom asked me, “Where’s the poem?”

“Right there.”

“Oh,” she said. “I like my poems to rhyme.”

“Your English teacher did you a disservice,” 

“Probably so. Probably so.”


See to me, that’s not a bad little poem right there, accidental though it may be. (When I realized that I did edit it just a bit.)

As an English teacher, I heard my mom’s viewpoint a lot. How can it be a poem if it doesn’t rhyme. The short answer is, of course, there’s a lot more to a poem than rhyming. What’s even more difficult than appreciating free verse is writing it. Here’s the craft box–make something. Little kids and the uninhibited will dive right in. The rest of us, especially teenagers who are terrified of taking chances, doing the wrong thing, and looking dumb, freeze up. And we (English teachers) get this:

I had a dog

He ate a frog

Fell off a log

And found a cog

I found, both for myself and my students, that a little structure can go a long way in both thawing out some of that fear and building confidence. One of my favorites for this is the triolet. It’s a simple little form from the 16th century. And while any good poem takes some effort, I’ve found that many of my students surprise themselves with this form. It’s easy to write something cute and fun if not deep and profound. This is the lesson that I use with my kids. 

And so, for my parents, and all those who grew up with the regular rhythm and rhyme of the fireside poets, I offer this compromise–something between free verse and Longfellow–my poem “I had one criteria when Linda asked” rewritten as a triolet.


When we went on our blind date

I chose the man who’s tall

Be it luck, or god, or fate

When we went on our blind date

His name was Bill or Sam or Nate

I wondered if he’d call

When we went on our blind date

I chose the man who’s tall




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *