How about some blank verse?

Hi everyone,

When was the last time you wrote a poem in blank verse? That’s unrhymed iambic pentameter (five stressed syllables per line). Shakespeare wrote miles of it in his works.

ta DA ta DA ta DA ta DA to DA

Here’s one of mine from THE PURCHASE OF SMALL SECRETS, published by Boyds Mills Press in 1998. It’s a memory-based poem about the time I went with two friends on horses to search for an old man who had disappeared from his farm. We were twelve.

Old Man McGrew
by David L. Harrison

I’ve never seen old man McGrew in person.
(People call him that behind his back.)
There’s also lots of other stuff they call him
Like bony, crooked, grizzled, stubborn, gruff . . .

And poor! They say he lives on cans of dog food!
Maybe it’s true he’s crazy. Who could tell?

Well now he’s wandered off or something’s happened
And a manhunt’s on to find old man McGrew.

Dick said, “Open some dog food, he’ll come running.”
But it won’t be funny if someone finds him dead.

P.S. We didn’t find Mr. McGrew but someone else did. He was sitting on a riverbank, fishing.

6 comments on “How about some blank verse?

  1. Here’s my attempt David.


    After being hit
    I ran up to my father
    I told him “Little brother had
    punched me for no reason,
    all because I mentioned that
    he was getting fat.”

    Daddy smacked my bottom
    said “Son, that’s what you get
    for being disrespectful to a
    member of our tribe.”

    So the moral of this story
    is if you have a craving
    to tell someone the truth?

    Best thing you can do
    is keep your big mouth shut.

    (c) Charles Waters 2012 all rights reserved.

    • Good morning, Charles. A thousand pardons for my oversight of your poem! I’m afraid it’s been a hectic month and I worry that I’ve been negligent too many other times and not know about them either. I like your poem and may we all learn from the lesson it teaches!


  2. Still an early draft, and an admittedly strange conceit:

    By Steven Withrow

    A mother bristleworm has lost her son.
    This undiscerning annelid, abysmal
    As any flatfish, bottom feeder, feasts
    On deceased detritus. Peruse his latest catch:
    A loose goulash of chlorinated leaves,
    Contorted pair of swimmer’s goggles, keys,
    Gobbet of yellow phlegm some tough coughed up
    While roughhousing. A luckless waterbug
    Canoes across the surface, and is snared
    By a hair into his ingurgitating gorge.
    A sewer-level connoisseur, at least
    He sweeps his keep. His mother would be proud.

    • Steven, I can’t wait to share this with my wife. She’ll relate, as I do, to your vivid descriptions of the filter’s daily catch. Ours, too, sweeps his keep and we’ve learned to be faithful in removing the debris before it becomes the “loose goulash” you mention. Thanks for contributing to the fun.


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