The ZaniLa Rhyme is an interesting, modern repeating form. This form was created by Laura Lamarca, and consists of at least two 4-line stanzas (although three or more stanzas are preferable).

The rhyme scheme for each stanza is:

Stanza 1


Stanza 2


Stanza 3


and so on…

The syllable count for each stanza is:


As you can see, Line 3 is a Repeating Line, which contains an internal rhyme and is repeated in each alternate stanza as in the first stanza. Each even stanza line contains the same line but with the two parts of the internal rhyme swapped. There is no maximum poem length.

This form can be found on the wonderful The Poets’ Garrett website ( which is hosted by the brilliant Terry Clitheroe.

Here are a couple of examples of my own, to give you an idea of just how – ermmm – zany the ZaniLa can be.

Ready…set…start poeming! ~RJ



By RJ Clarken

“I am the Hatter; here’s the March Hare,”
said the strange man in my dreams,
“Beware the Queen – she’s terribly mean,
and please know, nothing is as it seems.”

“I am Alice. Pleased to meet you, but…”
I politely asked this pair,
“…she’s terribly mean? Beware the Queen?
It sounds like ghastly tidings you share.”

“Quite,” said the Hatter, “Nevertheless,
it is ‘time’ to serve cream tea.”
“Beware the Queen; she’s terribly mean!”
March Hare poured, as he nodded at me.

With that, the Dormouse woke abruptly.
“Odds Bods! I’m trying to doze.
She’s terribly mean! Beware that Queen!”
He gestured to me. “Queen, I suppose?”

“No!” I cried, “I’m just a little girl!”
Those chaps calmly sipped a cup.
“I’m not the Queen – so what can you mean?”
And then, at that moment, I woke up.

© RJ Clarken


time for bed

Bedtime Story

By RJ Clarken

Illustration by: Henriette Willebeek Le Mair (1889-1966)  


Come, little brother, it’s time for bed.
You must leave your toys behind.
They’ll wait for you ‘til morning anew.
I am older, so me you must mind.

Wood horse and stuffed bunny need their sleep
so do you, and thus please come.
‘Til morning anew they’ll wait for you.
It’s now beddy-bye time, don’t be glum.

I’ll read you a tale of a small boy
who’s really a prince, disguised.
They’ll wait for you ‘til morning anew:
since your furry friends say close your eyes.

[Yawn]…once upon a time, long ago
this prince…[yawn, yawn]…well, that is…
‘Til morning anew, they’ll wait for…yooooou…
[yawn]…that’s the end…of the story…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

© RJ Clarken




He longs to retire in the tropics
With white sugar sand and sea
Even though she prefers white of snow
And he knows she will never agree.

She longs for falling crystalline flakes
And snow-laden trees outdoors.
She prefers white of snow, even though
She treasures hand-held walks on the shores.

© Copyright Marie Elena Good, 2013

RJ, you have made Walt and me very happy.  Thank you so much for stepping into the role of our weekly poetry form instructor.  If we could hand-picked one expert to fill in for Walt …

Oh, wait … Walt DID hand pick you.  😉

161 thoughts on “IN-FORM POET WEDNESDAY WITH RJ CLARKEN – ZaniLa Rhyme

  1. OK, ‘tried it’ before I read your samples. So….., I thought all the ‘a’s were to rhyme and all the ‘b’s rhyme … Thus my off-beat take on the form. I’ll have to try another one tomorrow… doing it correctly. I really enjoy the samples.

    Sometimes, I wish I had big white wings
    To take me over the sea
    To reach the blue sky, then soar up high.
    No one ever could get hold of me.

    Up where the clouds float and a bird sings
    Would be pure ecstasy,
    Then soar up high to reach the blue sky.
    On cotton candy clouds I would be.

    Waiting to see what the north wind brings
    As it is blowing so free
    To reach the blue sky, then soar up high.
    Before it drops to dance through a tree

    Cloud-laying, I’d see fish swim in rings
    But they can not leave the sea
    Then soar up high to reach the blue sky.
    For fish, in the water they must be.

    As for me, I don’t have big white wings
    Only in my dreams I’m free
    To reach the blue sky, then soar up high.
    Now, I’ll lay me down, and wing with glee.

  2. May I welcome you, RJ in you new role as Marie’s Garden-Mate. i am looking forward to your added input. Your poetic strengths, knowledge and skills have been a steady compliment to the garden.

  3. Reading the instructions, I first thought as Marjory did, that the ab(c1c2)b had to repeat across all stanzas. The examples demonstrated otherwise, but I was confused. Anyway, I tried one:


    Tidbits of rock in the atmosphere
    lace across the August sky;
    I do not know where their spirits go
    but in their endings they glorify

    the deep, bright black of the summer night.
    I watch them with mouth agape;
    where their spirits go, I do not know,
    but my soul senses routes of escape.

    For hours I stand as meteors fall,
    plunging and flashing to Earth;
    I do not know where their spirits go.
    The morning comes, cold, devoid of mirth.

    copyright 2013, William Preston

  4. Wow, this is definitely one of the hardest forms I’ve ever tried, but here’s my attempt:

    Rain Will Make The Flowers Grow

    The windowpane is streaked with raindrops,
    A rain-soaked world’s all I see;
    A tear trickles down upon that ground,
    How fast the cold has crept inside me!

    It’s just as if the clouds are crying,
    They miss seeing your face too;
    Upon that ground, a tear trickles down,
    You’ve left a sobbing world behind you;

    But this rain will make the flowers grow
    On that little spread of turf,
    A tear trickles down upon that ground,
    That marks where you rest, gone from this earth.

    © Copyright Erin Kay Hope – 2013

  5. Wow, interesting form… I need to think about this for a while… Loved everyone’s attempts!!

  6. RJ – loved the illustrations and your nursery rhymes! Marie, beautiful poem.
    Sorry, two was all I could muster…for now 🙂


    They drop, tears from broken-hearted clouds
    welling up, flooding, spilling, plink, plink
    lightning bolt flashes, thunder crashes
    pooled puddles of sorrow dark as ink

    This black and grey world matches her mood
    shell shocked, ragged, soul blistered and drained
    thunder crashes, lightning bolt flashes
    sizzling words lash like a hurricane.


    I visited the funeral home,
    an odd place, bright and airy.
    “We are alone; his spirit has flown,”
    they said about my old pal, Larry.

    I looked at the casket, closed up tight;
    old Larry has vanity.
    His spirit has flown? We are alone?
    Somewhere in here is insanity.

    I listened as the sermon began;
    the minister said to all,
    “We are alone; his spirit has flown,”
    I smirked at the pastor, and his gall.

    What right did he have, to say such words?
    I’ve seen more sense in a cow.
    His spirit has flown? We are alone?
    Bollocks, I thought; I saw him just now.

    copyright 2013, William Preston

  8. The Zany Zanila (I really like this form!)
    Stanza 1=a,b,c1,b Stanza 2= d,e,c2, e Stanza 3=f,g,c1,g, etc.


    My mother named her “Trudy-Fat-Cat”
    ‘pon her soft pillow she sighed,
    meowing sweetly, she sang to her;
    none other than mom Trude contrived.

    Now, Trudy-Fat-Cat was a schemer
    sleekly graceful, this cat sat.
    She sang to her, meowing sweetly;
    this was the way of Trudy-Fat-Cat.

    This conniving cat was marvelous,
    for mom spoke in cat language:
    meowing sweetly, she sang to her
    therein lay the feline’s stealthy bridge.

  9. The Dream

    A dream I had just the other night
    So real I thought I was there
    A place so grand, like no other land
    All perfectly perfect everywhere

    Old friends and family greeted me
    Welcoming me to this place
    Like no other land, a place so grand
    I could not wipe the smile from my face

    Then out from the crowd Jesus appeared
    “Heaven”, He said, “Is for you.”
    A place so grand, like no other land
    “For your faith, it’s the least I could do.”

    I fell to His feet in sincere thanks
    Then my dream came to an end
    I long for that land, that place so grand
    And one day I’ll return there again

    © 2013 Earl Parsons

  10. School Time

    Watch the children marching off to school.
    Mothers letting go of little hands
    The children must go, it ‘s how they grow
    The mothers try to smile and understand.

    The TV plays on with no one there to watch
    Only the puppy looking for his friend.
    He will learn how to wait, for it’s the fate
    That will happen to him many times again.

  11. My Bungalow

    What shall I do with my bungalow?
    Should I rent it out, or sell
    It’s a cozy hut; not perfect, but
    It has served my family quite well

    My bungalow shares a snow white beach
    With bungalows all around
    Not perfect, but, it’s a cozy hut
    Built well; no peril has blown it down

    A crow’s nest provides a view so grand
    From atop my bungalow
    It’s a cozy hut; not perfect, but
    It’s a retreat where we love to go

    I guess I just answered my question
    I’m keeping my bungalow
    Not perfect, but, it’s a cozy hut
    Think I’ll live there for good, don’t you know

    © 2013 Earl Parsons


    Another night gone to sleeplessness
    as I rise to morning’s call:
    Don’t feel forlorn, a new day is born.
    But a new day doesn’t help at all.

    Tossing and turning from dreamless nights,
    I overlook daybreak’s cry:
    A new day is born, don’t feel forlorn.
    But darkness begs me to question why.

    Inside a darkened and lonely room,
    I’m haunted by life’s refrain:
    Don’t feel forlorn, a new days is born.
    But the feeling of failure won’t wane.

    © Susan Schoeffield

  13. Child watches her mother move down row
    with outstretched hand offering
    Seed from a pod flows … a flower grows,
    future beauty it is promising.

    Each season growing, loving, sharing
    while expanding what we see
    A flower grows, seed from a pod flows
    adding life and hope to what will be.

    As years pass, more garden is added,
    a child blooms to a woman,
    seed from a pod flows, a flower grows
    to reach beyond small home-garden plan.

    Bits planted deep in each members’ heart.
    Howevery far each may roam
    a flower grows, seed from a pod flows
    to add joys special to each new home.

    The days, the years slip through each season.
    Watching, they can all still see
    seed from a pod flows, a flower grows,
    child, grand children, great-grandchildren free.

  14. Firefly Lullaby

    Whisper, wind, into my soul, whisper
    answers I do not know. Please
    only sweetness soft and low, meekness
    Then, gentle flickers on silken breeze

    Smoothly shadowing murmuring low
    Lulling smoothly, they attest
    Soft and low meekness only, sweetness
    I close my eyes, for I may now rest.

  15. Sea Sounds

    Listen to gulls on Alaskan coast
    Ship’s brass bell clanging out time
    The bubbling, splashing waves-a-thrashing
    The light clattering of sea shell chimes

    The haunting song of a humpback whale
    Otter pup squeals and sea lion groans
    The bubbling, splashing waves-a-thrashing
    Sailors’ morbid tales of Davy Jones

  16. Yeah, RJ!

    Strengths in Differences

    On yellow bricks, ruby shoes clicked
    Straw shuffled, tin clanged, tail swished.
    Emerald City loomed, they’d be there soon.
    The wizard would grant all that they wished.

    Poisoned poppies, and a cruel green witch
    forced detours in seekers’ route.
    They’d be there soon, Emerald City loomed.
    Lion was keen to give fear the boot.

    A heart, a brain, courage, and a home,
    four plus a dog, remained strong.
    Emerald City loomed, they’d be there soon.
    The wizard would soon right all the wrongs.

    Through rusting tin, scattered straw, weak knees,
    and evil monkeys who flew
    They’d be there soon, Emerald City loomed.
    No one guessed what they’d be asked to do.


    When I was young and wondering what
    to do, my old man told me,
    “Do what you love; the money follows
    and you will be what you want to be.”

    All these years I’ve tried to remember
    the wisdom my father gave:
    the money follows; do what you love.
    That seemed to be sage advice to save.

    Perhaps he was right, but nonetheless,
    his ringing words birthed a clank:
    “Do what you love, the money follows”
    has not followed me back to the bank.

    copyright 2013, William Preston

  18. Great to have RJ as Mistress of Forms (that comes with a crown, I think ;).
    This was a tough little bugger. That third line never quite made it for me, but here goes.

    Purple Daydreams

    She picks blueberries, purple and plump
    and imagines a sweet berry pie’s
    bruising stain, a kiss like a refrain
    on his mouth, and his satisfied sighs.

    He may fancy the rose in her cheeks
    and remember her bright eyes and lips,
    a kiss like a refrain’s bruising stain,
    and the roll of her pie-making hips.

    Picking blueberries can cause the mind
    to wander a fragrant purple field,
    a refrain bruising like a kiss stain,
    leading the heart to contemplate yield.

    • “Tough little bugger” is right, but fun nonetheless, I thought. I liked the progression of your poem, culminating (for me anyway), with the internal rhyming of “fragrant” and “refrain.” All of it is layered in purple, and for me, that includes deep evening, when the sky is that color too. Love this.

    • First of all, this poem was amazing. I just baked a peach and cream bread pudding this AM (the house smells amazing) …but now I want blueberries!

      Jane – you can take ANY form and turn it into an inspiration.

      And by the way – I do wear a tiara around the house – how did you know? (heh!)

      • LOL! I had only hoped that you were crowned, but now I see the scepter is a mixing spoon and the cape is an apron. You’re the perfect woman to share poeming recipes with us. 😉 I enjoyed the form. It made me think and tinker with words which is what we do, right?


    I give you RJ, Mistress of Forms;
    one to provide us new norms.
    She loves to write; she writes to excite
    and the glow that she weaves, stays and warms.

    Sometimes she offers hilarity;
    sometimes dispenses with glee.
    She writes to excite; she loves to write,
    and her words provide great company

    for the days and the nights when we cry
    and ennui seems high and nigh.
    She loves to write; she writes to excite
    and from her we will learn, by and by.

    copyright 2013, William Preston

  20. My Second attempt at the Zanila form:

    “Bullfinche’s Mythology”

    Greeks say that Eros, born of chaos
    clings to Erebus and Earth.
    Born of darkness from the egg of night,
    Vital is her name and full of worth.

    Eros issues from her womb more love,
    often meant to set men free
    from the egg of night, born of darkness;
    from duplicity of man, conceived.

    Eros arrows pierces pain in life
    takes away consuming grief
    born of darkness from the egg of night
    stealing all man’s mem`ry like a thief.

    The monster, Cronos, conspired but failed:
    Love contains no counted time.
    From the egg of night, born of darkness;
    birth of Eros forever divine.

    (found a paperback for Bullfinch’s Mythology at
    the flea market for ten cents! could not resist it)

  21. I Still Hope….Or Dream

    I cannot get you out of my mind,
    Or out of my beating heart;
    I play the fool, like a girl in school,
    Giddy when you’re near, sad when we’re apart;

    You’ve no idea how you make my day
    If you just say hi to me;
    Like a girl in school, I play the fool,
    Wishing you would always be by me;

    Oh, what have you done and why do I
    Feel this strange, wonderful way?
    I play the fool, like a girl in school,
    Euphoric, depressed, just in one day,

    One moment I’m on top of the world,
    Next I’ve sunk beneath the ground;
    Like a girl in school, I play the fool,
    And most times hope is completely drowned;

    But still, I can’t stop thinking of you,
    Maybe our thoughts will align,
    I’ve played the fool, like a girl in school,
    Hope remains that one day you’ll be mine.

    © Copyright Erin Kay Hope – 2013

    And yes, I am still a girl in school, so maybe that’s part of it. 😉


    The north wind laughs at me as it blows
    and adds to December woes:
    it whines and screams; it shreds all my dreams
    with sounds that only Lucifer knows.

    I wake, and watch the wind whipping snows
    into shapes like Arctic floes;
    it shreds all my dreams, it whines and screams
    with a kind of a devilish prose

    that meanders where no poem goes.
    The wind grins while I change clothes:
    it whines and screams; it shreds all my dreams
    and dares me to move the snow it throws.

    copyright 2013, William Preston

    NB: I wanted to try my hand at my original conception of the rhyme scheme; i.e., ab(c1/c2)b throughout.

  23. William – you did an absolutely perfect job of it. Each time I read one of your poems, I feel joy (and a scosh of jealously) at just how good you are! I totally am in awe. (Not a snow job either! haha!)

    “The wind grins while I change clothes…” what brilliance.

    And how cool is that?

  24. Hi Poet-Folks!

    Sorry I didn’t get to read/comment until today, but I was in finals until last night.

    So let me say this – what an absolute thrill it has been reading all your incredible poems, and your kind words. What an undeniable pleasure I have had this morning – and what a great way to celebrate my school’s term end. This has truly been the best gift (well, other than finding out I [hopefully] aced pre-calc) that you could have given to me.

    Thank you!

    Hopefully you all will join us next week – and have fun trying out more poetic forms. Ready…set…start poeming! 😀

  25. I don’t usually write political poems, but the legislature in NC has made “the education state” a drop-out. For all those students and teachers returning to classrooms, godspeed and good courage.


    The way the clouds hover over trees
    brings to mind how you shadowed,
    protecting us while respecting us,
    forgiving every debt we had owed.

    Sometimes still I live beneath your gaze,
    wondering, was it a chore—
    respecting us while protecting us—
    and were you sometimes longing for more?

    Children do remember their teachers,
    the lessons learned in your safe fold,
    protecting us while respecting us.
    Life of the mind you wove like spun gold.

    This school year starts with budget cuts, loss,
    making me question the State’s
    respecting us while protecting us,
    minds sacrificed to polls and debates.

    I’ve remained a teacher all these years,
    watching wonderful minds spin
    protecting us while respecting us.
    No powers stop thought. We start again

    • I can feel the irritation in your poem, especially in this line, “minds sacrificed to polls and debates.” The next stanza speaks determination, however. Quietly eloquent.

  26. Jane – you are so singing to the choir here. I am saddened by some of the unfortunate shifts in priorities – as if some of those who could do better don’t. Your poem speaks volumes. I rather imagine that you were (and are) a superb teacher, My mom was a wonderful teacher too. And yes, I do remember the good ones (and why they were good) and hope my own kids get to experience some of that goodness too.

    But you’re right – no powers stop thought.

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