How to Write Really Bad Poetry

Poems do not follow any particular rules unless those rules are convenient in helping the poet convey a certain feeling or mood. There are many different established poetic formats but the poet has also free license to make up whatever rules they wish. Some poems us rhythm and rhyme, some use one or neither. In these ways bad poetry bears a striking resemblance to good poetry.

When writing a poem with a rhythm, the poet, intentionally or not, will be using a “meter.” A meter is a certain rhythm scheme used in “verse” which applies to both poetry and song. Also used often in both poems and songs, a pattern of rhyming words in the verse is known as a “rhyme scheme.” To make sure verses are exceedingly terrible, one needs only to make sure that the work as a whole elicits a deep groan from the very soul of the audience, not whether or not it is written to a meter with a rhyme scheme. It is easily possible to write with a meter and rhyme scheme and still have a monumental victory in poetic failure.

A meter requires that certain words must be selected based, strictly or not, on the words’ syllable stresses. The meter will establish a certain rhythm which will typically use a limited selection of schemes but may be modified and sometimes even unique depending on the rhythm intended for the verse. The meter may be mapped out using ‘and _ symbols or something similar. For example, when the word “houses” is mapped out, in the way it is casually spoken in normal conversation, it looks something like this: ‘_. This is because we normally say the word by stressing the first syllable. Another way to demonstrate this using text is to capitalize the stressed syllables like this: HOUS-es. This can be done with any word and phrase. The meter for the phrase “don’t take any wooden nickels” would look like this: ‘_’_’_’_ which is pretty common meter. This can also look like this when this phrase is typically pronounced in everyday fashion: DON’T take AN-y WOO-den NI-ckles. However different words can be stressed which can completely change the meaning or modify the enunciation to fit the meter scheme of the verse format. The “wooden nickels” phrase can also be pronounced, “don’t take AN-y wood-en NI-ckles,” by deemphasizing some syllables which maps out as, “__’___’_.”


Any line of verse is made up of common little bits of rhythm properly called meter. Every line will have different combinations of the following meters…

Two Syllable

Iambic: _‘
Trochaic: ‘_
Spondaic: __

Three Syllable

Anapestic: __’
Dactylic: ‘__

In the following lines of verse, I have mapped out the meter with ‘for a stressed syllable and a _ for a more muted one. Additionally, a letter is placed at the end of the mapped line to indicate the rhyme scheme for each set of four lines. Note that some of these lines must be recited in a contrived way that may not match the innate rhythm of the words when normally spoke in conversation. If it can be sung then it can be recited might be a good general rule. The lines are mostly written in a modified Iambic consisting of three or four syllables each.

These sets of lines can be thought of as a couple, mostly iambic, tetrameters broken up into smaller pieces. This reflects the way the reader is to recite the lines. Lines, regardless of punctuation, are usually read with a pause at the end. When reading poems with lines of varying length, the reciter is usually to read the short lines slowly; the longer lines are read more quickly.

What before ‘_’A
I Thought I knew _’_’B
Turned out to ‘_’C
Not be true ‘_’B

There’s been days ‘_’A
I should have known _’_’B
To think too much _’_’C
Is how I’m prone _’_’B

It’s not the time _’_’A
For blinking eyes _’_’B
Mind relaxed ‘_’C
And patience fine _’_’A (SLANT)

Seeds of thought ‘_’A
Begin to grow _’_’B
As before ‘_’C
From up below _’_’B

Swimming through ‘_’A
Running out ‘_’B
Pensive lips ‘_’C
Eyes of doubt ‘_’B

Moon and stars ‘_’A
Sun and rain ‘_’B
Inspiration ‘_’_C
For my pain ‘_’_B

If cannot rhyme _’_’A
Write haiku ‘_’B
Smell my trials ‘_’C
And it eat it too ‘_’B

Friendly facE ‘_’A
From place to place _’_’A
Cannot remember _’_’_B
Mind erased ‘_’A

Before you judge _’_’A
Know the ways ‘_’B
Through thick and thin _’_’C
And purple haze _’_’B

A turtle dove _’_’A
A raven blue _’_’B
A unicorn _’_’C
Made into glue _’_’B

Sticking up ’_’A
And striking in _’_’B
Sanity ‘_’C
Stretched too thin ‘_’B

What is wont ‘_’A
Is wont to know _‘_’B
Weavers weave ‘_’C
And sewers sew _‘_’B

Drink this soup ‘_’A
Hot as sin ‘_’B
Belly up ‘_’C
To dive down in _‘_’B

Belief is fine _‘_’A
Doubting too ‘_’B
My head is full _‘_’C
Entire crew _‘_’B

Startled strung ‘_’A
A frantic flight _‘_’B
Chasing owls ‘_’C
Into the night _‘_’B

Anxiety _‘_’A
Is here again _‘_’B
Negotiate _‘_’C
To make a friend _‘_’B

It’s really tough _‘_’A
But never late _‘_’B
Make it work ‘_’C
And hope it’s great _‘_’A

Dodging left ‘_’A
And ducking right _‘_’B
Death just missed ‘_’C
If only slight _‘_’B

Can’t maintain ‘_’A
This fevered pace _‘_’B
Sometimes life ‘_’C
Is like a race _‘_’B

Purple orange ‘_’_A
Green and blue ‘_’B
Aviaries ‘_’_C
Jails and zoo ‘_’B

Don’t believe ‘_’A
In disbelief _‘_’A (SLANT)
What to trust ‘_’B
To bring relief _‘_’A

Snaking through ‘_’A
Weeds and grass ‘_’B
Hoping that ‘_’C
The fear will pass _‘_’B

Create the maze _‘_’A
By drawing lines _‘_’B
Keep them bold ‘_’C
But sketch them fine ‘_’B (SLANT)

Rough and tumble ‘_’A
Tumble weed ‘_’B
Windy wafts ‘_’C
Is what is need _‘_’B

Try to see ‘_’A
The morning blaze _‘_’B
Can’t wake up ‘_’C
A bleary haze _‘_’B

Silky cream ‘_’A
Inside the mind _‘_’B
Can’t relax ‘_’C
Or let unwind _‘_’B

Famous fate ‘_’A
And glory bold _‘_’B
Life to hot ‘_’C
To ever hold _‘_’B

Sneaking round ‘_’A
Or standing tall _‘_’B
Each can leave ‘_’C
One feeling small _‘_’B

Nothing ventured ‘_’_A
Nothing stained ‘_’B
Drop of ink ‘_’C
Scoundrel caned ‘_’B

Believe you me _‘_’A
Believe you you _‘_’B
Put the basket ‘_’C
In the stew ‘_’B

Frankly I ‘_’A
Have eyes that sting _‘_’B
Ears to beer ‘_’C
And hair that sings _‘_’B (SLANT)

Spinning round ‘_’A
But holding ground _‘_’A
Smiling angel’s ‘_‘_B
Devil frown ‘_’A

Light the fright ‘_’A
With terrors hand _‘_’B
Wrap your finger ‘_’C
Golden band ‘_’B

Slithering ‘_’A
Around my soul _‘_’B
Soon this diamond ‘_’C
Turns to coal ‘_’B

Never new ‘_’A
Growing old ‘_’B
Watching pages ‘_’_C
They unfold ‘_’B

Smart as whip ‘_’A
Cold as ice ‘_’B
Burning up ‘_’C
Lover’s vice ‘_’B

Snarky words ‘_’A
Kill the heart ‘_’B
Healing but ‘_’C
Where to start? ‘_’B

When they quarrel ‘_’_A
Best friends hurt ‘_’B
Warmth and kindness ‘_’_C
In the dirt ‘_’B

White as pitch ‘_’A
Black as light ‘_’B
Flipping flopped ‘_’C
Is healthy blight _‘_’B

From cranium _‘_’A
To callused foot _‘_’B
Notions potions ‘_’_C
Won’t stay put ‘_’B

Take a pill ‘_’A
Symbolically _‘_’B
Light on fire’s ‘_’C
Policy ‘_’B

Infant’s fate ‘_’A
Never certain ‘_’B
To bring one in _‘_’C
Must draw the curtain _‘_’B

Plaintive cries ‘_’A
Startled yelps ‘_’B
Staying strong ‘_’C
Is always help _‘_’B (SLANT)

Fundamental ‘_’_A
Bickering ‘_’B
Taking flight ‘_’A
On flap of wing _‘_’B

Perhaps you feel _‘_’A
Or taste the salt _‘_’B
Gritty angst ‘_’C
All your fault ‘_’B

Crayon’s wax ‘_’A
Paper’s fibers ‘_’_B
Fibbers snickers ‘_’_B (SLANT)
Pyro’s lighter ‘_’_B

Sounds like spells ‘_’A
Just spelling name _‘_’B
Make me mad ‘_’C
But glad you came ‘_’B

Can make this fast _‘_’A
Or make this fest _‘_’B
Get it done ‘_’C
Or take a rest _‘_’B

Drawing out ‘_’A
Waters well ‘_’B
Pour on ground ‘_’C
Ring the bell ‘_’B

Twirling finger ‘_’_A
Woopity doo ‘_’B
Causes woe ‘_’C
To ever linger _‘_’_A

Slinking forward ‘_’_A
Give a shout ‘_’B
Masticate ‘_’C
Bit with doubt ‘_’B

Feathers flow ‘_’A
Fury furry ‘_’B
Nightingale ‘_’C
Badger scurry ‘_’B

Out the window ‘_’_A
Shattered glass ‘_’B
What has gone ‘_’C
Was thought to last _‘_’B

Over and over ‘__’_A
Never again ‘__’B
Yet I’m wrong ‘_’C
Though I pretend _‘_’B (SLANT)

Wind blows trees ‘_’A
I’m tossed about _‘_’B
Piggy please ‘_’C
Pinkish snout ‘_’B

Analyze ‘__A
Salty pickle ‘_’_B
Tease the please ‘_’C
Playful tickle ‘_’_B

Nuts and bolts ‘_’A
A slaves’ revolt _‘_’A (SLANT)
Slinging mud ‘_’B
Begin to molt _‘_’A (SLANT)

Frivolous ‘_’A
With careful cause _‘_’B
Scratching bark ‘_’C
With deadly paws _‘_’B

With some parsley ‘_’_A
Snarky barky ‘_’_A (SLANT)
Garnish wounds ‘_’B
Much malarkey ‘_’_A (SLANT)

Blithering ‘_’A
So blithe and bluff _‘_’B
Puffing up ‘_’C
Feeling tough ‘_’B

Slimy fish ‘_’A
Tartar sauce ‘_’B
Weakened worry ‘_’_C
Spirit tossed ‘_’B (SLANT)

Frankly frank ‘_’A
Genie’s bottle ‘_’_B
Tossed on waves ‘_’C
Spotted mottle ‘_’_B

Muffin tops ‘_’A
Inside the mind _‘_’B
Grimy glares ‘_’C
For you to find _‘_’B

Stranger danger ‘_’A
Pudding pop ‘_’B
Rove the ranger ‘_’_A
Never stop ‘_’B

Smoky wisdom ‘_’_A
Clear as blood ‘_’B
Pure as crystal ‘_’_C
Full of crud ‘_’B

Furtive flirtive ‘_’_A
Futures bride ‘_’B
Count the waves ‘_’C
As tides roll by _‘_’D

Catch the snipe ‘_’A
And bag the yeti _‘_’_B
Travel forth ‘_’C
To Alpha-Seti ¬_‘_’_B

Countless crimes ‘_’A
Muckrake prime ‘_’B
Strangely muddled ‘_’_C
Future’s wine ‘_’B

Settling ‘__A
For something real _‘_’B
Need a thing ‘_’A
Which I can feel _‘_’B

Groaning moan ‘_’A
Squealing skill ‘_’B
Fattened up ‘_’C
For the kill ‘_’B

From Paris France _‘_’A
To Kansas City _‘_’_B
Back and Forth ‘_’C
Earning pity ‘_’_B


Putting aside, for a moment, that the verses were successfully awful, it can be seen how a poem, regardless of artistic merit, can be written to a meter and rhyme scheme. Bad verse, whether for poem or song, can be written by sticking to a ridged format or none at all. There are several different kinds of commonly written poetry 1) The common poetry formats, or forms, can help you to, not only create a bad poem, but create a bad poem with a fancy name like “Sonnet.”

How To | Poetry

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