Poem #22: Love Rules of the Ibis; Prompt #3: Three-Part Blank Verse

Love Rules of the Ibis

Alone, I lie upon a wooden bench.
The trees above enshroud me in a la-
zy shade, the sun obscured, my eyes at rest.
A timid ibis bowing from his branch
attracts a mate with fragile twigs and class.
What birds can teach of romance I’ve no clue;
My time alone away from you is proof.
Perhaps it is the partners’ preening dance,
or gifts of wood that prove their faithful hearts.
If only we could love like them, I think.
Then maybe you’d be on this bench with me.
But we aren’t birds, or anything so kind.
And so you sleep in his arms, not in mine.
Some moments later, he moves in – they kiss.
The sacred birds achieve a bond at last,
and glide away for nests as yet unbuilt.
The February summer’s eve remains,
and with it drift my wistful reveries.
So lost, I can’t remember my last meal.
In Oz we only eat on breaks from dreams.

@NBF 5.7.2009


Sydney, 2004



The ibis is a most unusual-looking bird found throughout Australia. They can teach us a lot about love, as can most animals.

I wrote this poem in blank verse (not to be confused with free verse), a form popularized in the 16th century. I did so after reading the introduction to Mary Kinzie’s book A Poet’s Guide to Poetry this morning. (The book is part of Professor Michael S. Harper’s recommended reading). The first assignment in the book is a 20-line blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter with occasional – and necessary – enjambment) “using the three-part organization of the poems by Coleridge, Wordsworth, Larkin, Nemerov, and Gunn: that is, first the description of a scene, which then triggers a meditation on something in the speaker’s experience, which enables the speaker to return to the initial scene with a sense of resolution or understanding.”

Try writing your own blank verse poem with the above three-part organization.


4 Responses to “Poem #22: Love Rules of the Ibis; Prompt #3: Three-Part Blank Verse”

  1. AH HA! And so I will learn more about blank, and free, and so many kinds of verse… very excited about it. You totally confirm my intuitive thoughts on how to delve into poetry — first, the thought that it’s important to express concrete imagery and not just vague concepts; secondly, what good it will surely do us to tough through the many old forms.

    • The notion of toughing through old forms is one borrowed first from Professor Michael S. Harper, and then through Kinzie. It’s partly the age-old wisdom of “know the rules before you break them.” There’s something to that. However, there’s also something to be said for being able to create modern, accessible work within the old rules. That’s an art in and of itself.

  2. […] Blank verse again with some assonant phrases woven together. I cannot endorse blank verse enough. […]

  3. […] poem is an English Sonnet, the form employed by Shakespeare when he wrote his collection. Like blank verse, the English Sonnet is written in iambic pentameter. In addition, it uses an end-rhyme scheme of […]

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