In Praise of Formal Poetry

Whether it’s ridiculous or sublime,
we need the reassurance of meter,
the familiar recurrence of rhyme.

We yearn for verse that’s fixed in place and time,
lines that march to a regular beat, or
words, whether ridiculous or sublime,

that echo each other like bells that chime
in harmony. It sounds so much sweeter,
the familiar recurrence of rhyme,

the repetition of rhythm that climbs
to a climax like epic theatre,
whether it’s ridiculous or sublime,

then subsides into silence like a mime
gesturing wordlessly at a street fair.
The familiar recurrence of rhyme

lifts our souls beyond the effort and grime:
when penned in iambic pentameter
especially, the recurrence of rhyme
provides both ridiculous and sublime.



For those who pray, and those who don’t believe
there’s any higher power to pray to:
we thank you God for all that we receive
this day. For those who think it is naïve
to trust in divinity, we say to
you: Those who pray, and those who don’t believe,
alike are blessed by this abundance we’ve
been gifted. Thanksgiving is the day to
praise and thank God for all that we receive,
more from grace than anything we achieve.
This simple prayer is simply a way to
let those who pray and those who don’t believe—
even those who can’t begin to conceive
of deities—let you know they, too,
say thank you God for all that we receive
each in their own way. We ask now your leave
to eat—for this is the holiday to
let those who pray and those who don’t believe
partake. We thank you God for all we receive.


The Meaning of That Lilac Bush

In your desperate search for reason,
you scan the world like a lunatic:
What is the meaning of that lilac
bush, this backyard fence, that fountain pen?
You speculate that every object
has a purpose beyond what you can see
as you wander past the Christmas tree,
the coffee machine, the writing desk.
Where did you go when you went away?
Some say you had a stroke, others think
amnesia, perhaps a psychic break.
You have no memory of that day.
All you know is you love coffee,
there’s snow on the ground, and you are free.


Wayne Lee ( is a Canadian/American who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he works as an educator and journalist. Lee’s poems have appeared in Tupelo Press, The New Guard, Sliver of Stone, Slipstream, The Floating Bridge Anthology, and other publications. His awards include the 2012 Mark Fischer Poetry Prize and the 2012 SICA Poems for Peace Award, and he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and three Best of the Net awards. His collections include Twenty Poems from the Blue House (Whistle Lake Press) and Doggerel & Caterwauls: Poems Inspired by Cats & Dogs (Red Mountain Press).

These poems are among the entries for the Society of Classical Poets’ 2012 Poetry Competition.

NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets.

The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.