By Carol Smallwood The pantoum is a poetry form that originated in 15th century Malaysia and drifted West in the 19th century with French writer Victor Hugo, among others. While it never quite took off like the Haiku, it never fully went away either and has been steadily blossoming among English poets. Unlike the 14-line sonnet, pantoums do not have to be a certain length. The challenge comes with the repetition of two lines from the first stanza in the following stanza. Additionally, in the traditional Pantoum form that I prefer, the first line becomes the last line and the third line becomes the third from last. The payoff of a well executed pantoum is a picture-like poem that seems to dance in circles outside the boundaries of time. This is the format I use: Stanza 1: 4 lines, ABAB rhyme scheme Stanza 2: Line 5 (repeat of line 2 in stanza 1) Line 6 (new line) Line 7 (repeat of line 4 in stanza 1) Line 8 (new line) Stanza 3: Last Stanza (This is the format for the last stanza regardless of how many preceding stanzas exist): Line 9 (line 2 of the previous stanza) Line 10 (line 3 of the first stanza) Line 11 (line 4 of the previous stanza) Line 12 (line 1 of the first stanza) As with other formal poems, one must not let the form drive the poem and select topics carefully: like when Goldilocks is looking for a bed in three bears’ house, it must be just right. Other types of pantoums can be found here. My example pantoum, "Near the Porch Rails," began when I noticed a red weed growing I hadn’t seen before. Curious, I looked at it closely, and smiled as it seemed like beads and tried to find the name of it but couldn’t online. However, names of others were delightful and decided to write about them as summer progressed. Near the Porch Rails New weeds bring surprise—like one with red bead-like leaves this spring nameless yet; weeds were often used by ancestors for medicine or dye— secure in ground in sun near the porch rails, green life brings a new zing. Nearby, white delicate Queen Anne’s Lace (Wild Carrot), stretches to sky. Nameless yet, weeds were often used by ancestors for medicine or dye; Calling one, Heal All, is better than Prunella vulgaris, its scientific name. Nearby, white delicate Queen Anne’s Lace (Wild Carrot) stretches to sky. Even if families grow next to one another, they’re never exactly the same. Calling one, Heal All is better than Prunella vulgaris, its scientific name; Mouseear Chickweed, Bull Thistle, Shepherd’s Purse are common weeds. Even if families grow next to one another, they’re never exactly the same— spring arrivals from year to year are capable of sowing many seeds. Mouseear Chickweed, Bull Thistle, Shepherd’s Purse are common weeds; secure in ground in sun near the porch rails, green life brings a new zing; spring arrivals from year to year are capable of sowing many seeds. New weeds bring surprise—like one with red bead-like leaves this spring. Paste your pantoums in the comments sections below. One of Carol Smallwood pantoum’s just won an Honorable Mention in the Thirteenth Annual International Ultra-Short Competition sponsored by The Binnacle at The University of Maine at Machias, 2016. Her over four dozen books include Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching, which is on Poets & Writers Magazine list of Best Books for Writers. Water, Earth, Air, Fire, and Picket Fences is a 2014 collection from Lamar University Press; Divining the Prime Meridian, is a 2015 collection from WordTech Editions.