Poetry challenge #7: Circular poem

I know it’s a strange sort of form. Indulge me. I don’t know if it has a pedigree or if I invented it, but I like using it and so might you if you give it a try.

The rules are simple. A circular poem is one that goes round full circle. The last word of the first line rhymes with the first word of the following line and so on until you end up back at your first line.

Lines can be any length, it’s the rhyme that’s important. Ideas and images can be as stream of consciousness as you like, theme, whatever springs to mind. Some of you might want to try out a Thanksgiving theme.

Remember, you have a whole week to concoct something.

Here’s an example to give you an idea of what I mean.

Photo ©Benoit-Caen


It unfolded with the morning,

Warning light, flashing red and gold,

Told us to hide,


Glide away on silent wings.

Stings, the dawn when it brings sorrow.

Tomorrow will be better, they say,

Betraying their lack of courage to defeat,

Beat the devil in the garden, the worm,

Squirming in the rotten apple,

Grapple the problem of today,

Stay the hand with the gun.

Run, only to help, not to flee,

Be the steadfast rock that breaks the wave,

Save the slender, fragile human spirit—

It unfolded with the morning.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

48 thoughts on “Poetry challenge #7: Circular poem”

      1. You know I don’t really ‘do’ poetry, just dabble now and again. With Carys’s brushings and her being sick this last week, I’ve really struggled finding inspiration. She’s gone to school today so now I have to rush around like a mad thing trying to catch up with everything. I won’t have time to write, or think, until much later, but a challenge is just what I need to give me a kick-start! 😁

      2. I’m only joking. I know you have your hands full, and I don’t know where you find the time to breathe never mind write! When my children were the age of yours, I didn’t do anything but run around after them, and thankfully none of them ever got sick.


  1. Wonderful poem expressing a sentiment to be consumed. I really find the form intriguing, being one who has a somewhat (unjustified) negative reaction to rhyme forms. I think it is because it so difficult for the rhyming word choices not to be blunt and distracting from the rest of the poem. Having the rhyme at the beginning of the lines (of varying length) seems to really help avoid this difficulty. I will try this form next. 🙂

  2. I know what you mean about the rhyme being a possible constraint, deforming meaning to fit the rhyme. Or worse, not quite rhyming at all. This is a bit of a cheat in that you can make the line as long as an idea, or break it to suit a rhyme without bothering with rhythm and metre. Give it a go and see what you come up with 🙂

    1. I don’t see it quite as a cheat as long as one is also playing rhythm and meter. I did enjoy the process, in part because looking for the rhyme was exposing me to words that normally don’t pop into my head or had never seen before and had to look up the definition. Breaking the lines regardless the syllable count is non-traditional, yet, considering my first sentence, it is playing tennis with some kind of net. 🙂

  3. Thanks for this challenge! I am enjoying trying out forms and reading what other people come up with. On my first go I certainly felt the tug between form and meaning that you talked about earlier– I enjoyed the process and the ‘form’ of a challenge to encourage me to persist.

    1. I’m glad you found it worthwhile. It’s a bit like slam poetry in that the phrases are linked by a rhyme that draws attention to the meaning because the two words follows on directly.

      1. I know little about slam poetry, but I’m gathering you mean poetry performed outloud–and that’s very interesting–I quickly revisited mine and saw more clearly when I read outloud how some rhymes create a meaning flow and others not so much…ahaa :))

  4. How can I recall what is almost forgotten
    Lost in a thorny world
    Hurled into ceaseless motion
    Oceans of grief rise their tides
    Behind a heart shut tight to more pain
    Again I am wandering
    Squandering what I cannot name
    Game up, and I have little to show.
    Oh, but I’ll stand strong against the cold…
    Old stories those, we learn little
    It’ll be a wonder if anything changes
    Ages may pass, what of the new
    Do you really think it will be so enlightened and grand
    And in the survival of the day to day
    We pay dearly, the cost passes but a few
    Too many left hungry, pleading, wanting
    Some haunting the places where they learned to be tame
    The same, alas, they and I
    I am what is almost forgotten

    1. The hard thing about this form is to keep a line of thought. It can veer off in all sorts of directions, wherever a good rhyme takes you. Sometimes it ends up making no sense whatsovever!

      1. Rhymes are a silver lining to the imagery provided by the poet but sometimes the lining may get too thick and may hide the cloud! It requires great skill and I see that in your poems, which is why I thoroughly enjoy reading them!

      2. I’m glad that’s how you see them. I don’t like reading obscure poetry, it seems self-indulgent and smart. The point, seems to me, is to communicate something, not show off how cleverly you can string words together so no one knows what you’re talking about!

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