Rhyme Squared form

The rhyme-squared form is two eleven-line stanzas. The first stanza is a normal bit of poetry, the second attempts to slant rhyme the stanza essentially. It’s difficult to explain but maybe easily appreciated in practice. The form name, I think, explains the idea a bit: Rather than simple end rhymes, nearly every word is a rhyme (in a stretch of the meaning of rhyme; think the way Muldoon rhymes, or Dickinson); so the “square” stanza is rhymed or it’s rhyme x rhyme (so rhyme-squared in the mathematical sense). Eleven lines was kind of a random choice – what form uses a set eleven lines? – but also the 11 next to each other are mirror images like the stanza, right?

I wrote notes to myself on the form when I made it – I’d be happy to share those with you if you care to see them. I thought this one was interesting: “Part 2 is a near-exact sonostructural replica of part 1, but with a completely different meaning, content and sense!” And these: “I like how the expectation of rhyme can create, in its absence, a sort of “idea-rhyme” (in the realm of “sight-rhyme”) where something like “one” and “love” can be in the place of a rhyme, and the reader can ponder “one’s” relation to “love… The other fun (or interesting) thing about the Rhyme Squared is how the first stanza lays the tracks for the second – the knowledge of stanza one being a predecessor (progenitor) during the creation process is rather novel and exciting! At least, by degrees relative to other forms…The form is supremely generative, that is, like the sonnet forcing the poet’s hand in coming up with an exceptional (unusual and fascinating) word to make the rhyme without betraying sense, or rather, without betraying the poet’s and poem’s duty to charm via sound and sense, the form with each step does that.”

There are – you’ll see in the submission below – some liberties taken with the rules…

Desire is the Agent of Acquire
By Jake Sheff

So chlorophyll desires light undead;
Mythology desires truth beheaded; rivers
Find desire urgently and prolix. Crows
Admit the loves they lost and storms
They swept, indifferent as the devil of
Possessing. Toads desire lily pads
And call it “paper rain,” the feeling’s
Place. The bulk of beauty seen but not
Desired demolished heights that proved
The all-effacing fathoms given heaven
Not mistaken, but incredulous to scrawny faith.

[“Something great and god-like, not a man at all.”
          –      On the question of subjects suitable
          to verse, the author of Cardioversion
          and Other Lifesaving Measures.]

So glory feels decidedly lightheaded.
My theology deserves the truth unsevered; ravens
Find it “surgically inspired.” The crows’ elixir
Abnegates the loaves they lost and crumbs
They wept; I’m different: bedeviled by
No ownership. The notepad’s dotage calls
For ire; placid paupers reign with feeling
New desires. The biomass of dead ideas
Required hearts demoralized and moved
The stakes: the fathers, all ungoverned, scrawled
Their debts like heathen doubts on walls.

A rhyme-squared hybridized with terza rima…

Intelligible Lintel
By Jake Sheff

The spreading cult of dissolution chanced
Upon a tinker’s town; a bomb was dropped.
Obstreperous it wasn’t; no gladioli danced

Mazurkas, motivated less than chopped
Into a thousand hollow atoms loyal
To the bone. The errant reeds were cropped.

A tea set rattled in the hutch; a foil
Not restrained by the Venetian blinds
Was hell-bent on evicting the gargoyle

Within itself. Evaporating minds
And rivers, credible and scoff combines

Presiding talc, a distant lotus glanced
Within a thinker’s wont (aplomb; it topped
The anti-streptococcal glade), advanced

Tzedakah and a seagull’s vomit; stopped
This time, a thousand tons of tallow boil
A stone’s-throw from the heirs-apparent swapped

With heat. Unbridled by the hunch of Troy – ill-
Advised as trains of sunlight (“Vengeance blinds”) –
The fire exit’s gag revoked the mohel

Within a mushroom, sublimated spines
And scrofula diverse as columbines.

Here I kind of divvy up the stanzas to a couple friends…

Simulcast in Yon, Hermetic Orange
By Jake Sheff

For Ben N.

At the request of light, inscrutable
Uncertainty was cast aside, or shed
In deeper shelves than oceans have. Perforce
Is why some feel that light’s arrival was
Delayed, although this wouldn’t account for mounds
Of cactus needles making downy beds.
The light was something you teamed up with, a
Most natural fixation, lifting nothingness
To Gaelic hymns, aloft with starry birds;
And light-years dissipated in your hands.
The compact’s metaphors arrayed themselves…

For Patrick M.

…To the effect that wood (disputable
If curtains flee the past) allied, and said
‘Go bleep yourselves’ like oceans have. Of course,
This lissome deal, that wood and imbeciles
Delight in, threw what would, in discount minds,
Be practice noodles in our wally heads.
The hardness sometimes put up beams, a
Most unnatural fixation, lifting nothingness
Beyond East Hampton: starboard; floating.
But participating light-years waived our plans
And commas gave our foray’s halves what for.

I call this a Jacob’s Ladder – it’s the first type of that form I wrote. It starts with a stanza of any length, but the final line is a rhyme-squared sort of take on the first, where it transforms but retains a sort of sonic structure. The subsequent stanzas are built on the line they correlate with – so stanza two starts with a regenerated line 2 from stanza 1 and ends regenerating it again (turning it, remodeling it); stanza 3 starts and ends with remodeled line 3 from stanza 1… It’s just another way to remodel on the same sonic blueprint, basically, though less involved or intense than the rhyme-squared.

The Fiddlehead of Loserville
By Jake Sheff

Strange fern, you grow into a crack
Outside the crippled library, all
Alive; you represent strange doubts
And music as nippers waste
Your medicinal properties,
Strangling your spiral like a Nerf’s.

Outside the crippled library, all
Is real as if it was an Israel or
Springtime, the lackluster names of
The game in Loserville. Of curly
Capital, for you what gains to be
The library’s outsized, crapload of fall?

Alive, you represent strange doubts
For me to feel uxorious, a blind moth’s
Preference for the dark. Are you
The spot of owl in a spotted distance,
Or Clever Hans in a Potemkin village:
Normal doubled-over; out of love?

If Musicland is waist and nipple,
Chalk it up to corporate memory, otic
Drops too odious for the otters. Crowing,
The sun put on a hen’s brassiere, but
Mockingbirds can’t learn your song!
(No happiness-to-happen is too long.)

Mendel’s propitious pea
Sanctioned dominance, but not
Loch Ness cassettes: your millionth feat
Of sin no strength can strand; the hero’s
Casserole of cortex played impeccably
In pectoralis minor.

This last form I call a “Matryoshka poem,” after the Russian nesting dolls. It’s got three forms within it: at the tetrameter mark you’ll see the rhyme scheme of Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” (stanzas of ABBA); at the pentameter you’ll find the familiar Shakespearean sonnet rhyme scheme; at the hexameter you’ll find the heroic couplet (iambic pentameter in the past, so I added a foot to accommodate my invention). This form was kind of born by a desire to invent and the poem’s theme. I found it fascinating that embedded in the tar were these fossils from the past, while the tar pits themselves are embedded in downtown Los Angeles. So the way things are layered within each other. I also found an elegiac form (In Memoriam), combined with a sonnet (known for love or praise) combined with a heroic form was appropriate for the La Brea woman; obviously this person is worthy of admiration, being mourned and maybe even elevated to hero status. One could argue all angels are.

La Brea Woman: A Matryoshka Poem
By Jake Sheff

La Brea Woman is the name for the only human whose remains have ever been found in the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. She was 25 to 30 years old at the time (dated to approximately 10,000 calendar years) and found associated with remains of a domestic dog. (Source: Wikipedia)

Her heart sank as her dog’s prosthetic paw got stuck.
The amaretto sunset – knock on wood – was muck
to ebony beyond Rorschach. She saw the pile
of skulls, like shoes or anesthetic, stood awhile

in shades of impotence. A flash as faceless as
beggars in a beginner’s soul, had come to pass
its judgment on her: She’ll extol the baseless sun
for rising, but would not detach this number one

succumbing to dumb suction. Nearby, mammoths mourned;
a giant sloth was frantic at a pace it scorned
like new romantic moons picked fatty pompons off
the sky. The wagging tail endeared its face to scoff

at death’s delight; no aviators have a scar
to level out this city’s wealthy avatar.

Jake Sheff is a major and pediatrician in the US Air Force, married with a daughter and three pets. Currently home is the Mojave Desert. His poems appear in Marathon Literary Review, Jet Fuel Review, The Cossack Review and elsewhere. His chapbook is Looting Versailles (Alabaster Leaves Publishing). He considers life an impossible sit-up, but plausible.