Tag Archives: poetry structures

Rich and Poor Divided by Railway Floor

Railway Line Division Vision

born on the right side of the tracks
wide roads and big houses
clean trimmed lawns
featuring Winner the labrador
and a sports car outside the garage door

Railway line divides the town

beat up rusty motor with the hood open
pitbull called Loser hoping
to taste freedom
back yards and wooden porches
born on the wrong side of the tracks

Bookmark and Share

Grand Old Duke of York Poem of Our Age by Norman Bissett and

Today we have the second Folding Mirror poem to appear on this site after first being published in the summer Tips for Writers.

Norman’s first poem, STENDHALISMO, is the most viewed poem on this site, and I hope this second one proves as popular.

The poem reflects the hope of youth in the top half of the poem with the reality of age in the bottom, and this theme is cleverly summed up with a metaphor in the poem title; referring as it does to the old nursery rhyme of the grand old duke of York, who marched his men up the hill and then down again.

Thanks to Norman for creating and sharing his poem, and Wendy Webb for allowing its re-use.


Success is a mountain summit
soliciting rape, begging to be conquered,
awaiting our all-out assault.
The towering peaks soar,
defying and challenging us.
We shall assuredly prevail.
Youth, dynamism, zest and self-belief
are ours in abundance.

With the passing years, spirits droop, limbs become leaden.

Weighed down by an excess
of self-doubt, accidie, sloth, the spiritual torpor of age,
defeat, chap-fallen, confronts us.
Mocking and taunting,
unfathomable depths open before us,
awaiting our total capitulation.
Lusting to be inhabited, soliciting occupation,
failure is a bottomless pit.

Poem with a Serious Message?

Today’s Folding Mirror is an early and simple one I did. It’s not a preaching poem, and I’ll hopefully be enjoying a few pints tomorrow night myself, but I also watched a drama about George Best and his mother last night, so it seems apt timing.

The Content

I thought the flatline (influenced by the film, Flatliners) was a perfect folding middle line, and constructed the poem around it.

The topic is how we can abuse our bodies with drink and smoking, but there is a happy ending, as after the subject declines in the first half of the poem and flatlines in the middle, he/she recovers in the second.

The heart makes itself known in each half of the poem: in pain in the first half, and recovery in the second.

The subject returns to her/his previous habits in the last line, as set out in the first.

The Structure

The two sides are straight mirrors, as they have the same words and punctuation in each paired line.

The Poem

I hope you enjoy the poem, and your weekend!

Dicing with Death

Drinking at the bar, smoking a few tabs…
Heart makes itself known,
On a hospital bed, fighting for life,


On a hospital bed, fighting for life,
Heart makes itself known,
Drinking at the bar, smoking a few tabs…

More Sarah James Poetry

Today we have the fourth Sarah James poem to appear on this site, and it’s a nicely crafted folding mirror that tells a complete and touching story.

I’ll pass you over to Sarah to introduce the poem and Bookworms follows straight after.

Introduction: Loosening the Binding

by Sarah James (aka Sarah Leavesley, at http://www.sarah-james.co.uk )

My poem Bookworms was written to test out the folding mirror form and explore the looser boundaries it allows compared to the more traditional palindromic mirror poem. Here the poem folds around a crucial central line: ‘But we reached a full stop…’, with a mirroring of lines in terms of the punctuation and the number of words in each line. This seemed a subtler, more appropriate representation of the book form than a full palindromic (the same words) mirror form. The two pages do not mirror each other but are connected and similar in terms of lay-out. For similar reasons, I also chose to rhyme the paired folding mirror lines: kiss and miss, stacks and syntax…

The Poem: Bookworms

It started with the great bard, his starstruck lovers’ first kiss.
Romance was strengthened by the pungent smell of library stacks.
As we slowly savoured book titles letter by lingering letter,
words collapsed beneath us, skin caressed knobbly spines.

But we reached a full stop. Something didn’t flow…

stumbled over true emotion, hidden between poetic lines.
Our relationship stretched with spaces different interests now filled better,
Newton’s theories fascinated you more than my questioning English syntax.
It was no tragic love tale, but a lucky near miss.

Poetry From Scotland to France, Geography and Culture

After a week of mostly theory on this blog I thought it was time for a bit of poetry.

The Poem Subject
The following poem was influenced by my visit to Scotland last year, my hitching across the south of France over twenty years ago, and seeing a television nature programme on the north of Scotland’s white sandy beaches.

I thought that the north of Scotland and the south of France surprisingly share many similarities: white beaches with mountains inland, and that it might make a decent folding mirror poem with the English Channel providing the folding middle line.

This meant that the poem grew to include the whole of Britain and France, rather than just the north of Scotland and south of France as first envisaged.

The north of Scotland is at the top of the poem, and then it works down through the Highlands to the big cities in the UK. At the bottom of the poem the big cities of France lead south through the mountains to the southern beach.

The Structure

The poem contains two types of lines that can be used in folding mirrors. These show the geographic similarities and cultural differences either side of the English Channel.

The outer three lines have the same words either side, emphasising the geographical similarities in the two countries, but switched around in their lines to create a reflective effect, as explained with the colours yesterday.

The inner three lines have the same word counts and punctuation, but the different drinks, foods and cars of the two countries.

Here’s the poem. Enjoy!

From Morar to Monte Carlo

White sand and azure sea
Rolling hills to high peaks
Villages, towns and cities
Beer and whiskey,
Bangers and mash, fish and chips
Jaguar and Rover

Connected through a tunnel under the North Sea

Renault and Peugeot
Pot au feu, coq au vin
Wine and cognac,
Cities, towns and villages
High peaks to rolling hills
Azure sea and white sand

The First Folding Mirror

The first folding mirror poem happened by accident.

I was writing a poem for a competition a couple of years ago, and just noticed that the two halves of the poem and the subject’s life seemed to mirror.

The poem’s structure was working out to be about the same amount of words each line, either side of a defining moment.

This reminded me of what I knew about the haiku structure, with two same sized lines either side of a longer middle line.

So I then created the poem with the same amount of words in each corresponding line (first and last / outside and outside etc) either side of the defining middle line: the folding mirror was born!

The poem was about an unfortunate woman’s life, from birth to death. 

It’s title plays on Jimi Hendrix’s Stone Free.

Its time and place was made vague on purpose.

It is not a hate poem, but a call for change and liberty.

Reading the poem it could be from history or the present; and the subject could even be male, as many men have similar experiences.  

The poems is below, with an explanation of its structure to the side of each line:

Stoned Free

Comfort, Crying, Freedom           (as with the last line, three words separated by two commas)

Sold into slavery,             (as with the second last line, three words and comma)

Beaten, Raped,            (as with third from last line, two words and two commas)

Unwanted by twenty,          (as with fourth from last line, three words and a comma)

Accused of immorality, Judged,         (the folding middle line)

Guilty of course,          (as with fourth line, three words and a comma) 

Jeering, Hatred,         (as with third line, two words and two commas)

Surrounded by men,         (as with the second line, three words and comma)

Pain, Confusion, Liberation  (as with the first line, three words separated by two commas)