Free verse – no rules
Free verse is poetry with no rules – it’s up to you!
The best we can say is that free verse:
1. Is NOT an essay written and then broken into lines
2. Does NOT contain patterns of rhyme or metre
3. DOES tend to follow natural speech
4. DOES provide vivid imagery in short sentences
On the last day of school, the kids were finally FREE – NO MORE RULES!
Everyone burned coal in our neighbourhood,
soft coal they called it from the mountains
of western Pennsylvania where my father
grew up and fled as soon as he could, where
my Welsh cousins dug it down in the dark.
The furnace it fed stood in the dank
basement, its many arms upraised
like Godzilla or some other monster.
It was my job to pull out clinkers
and carry them to the alley bin.
Marge Piercy, from The Air Smelled Dirty
This poem, about how little we know our own parents, seems well-suited to a form without rhyme and rhythm:
Wind and the sound of wind—
across the bay a chainsaw revs
and stalls. I've come here to write,
but instead I've been thinking
about my father, who, in his last year,
after his surgery, told my mother
he wasn't sorry—that he'd cried
when the other woman left him,
that his time with her
had made him happier than anything
he'd ever done. And my mother,
who'd cooked and cleaned for him
all those years, cared for him
after his heart attack, could not
understand why he liked the other
woman more than her,
but he did. And she told me
that after he died she never went
to visit his grave—not once.
You think you know them,
these creatures robed
in your parents' skins. Well,
you don't. Any more than you know
what the pines want from the wind,
if the lake's content with this pale
smear of sunset, if the loon* calls
for its mate, or for another.
John Loomis, At the Lake House
A loon is an aquatic bird found in many parts of North America.