A Funny Old Form: Double Dactyls

Of all the forms of poetry, the bizarre “double dactyl” has produced some of the most wonderfully bonkers poems. And for that, I love it.

Here are a couple of my double dactylic efforts. If you would like a go (and who wouldn’t?) the rather odd rules are provided below. I’ve also added some links so you can read some more examples.

Queen of the Dancefloor

Ooyakah Booyakah!
Dear Queen Elizabeth’s
ninety third birthday
turned into a rave.

She did the running man
extraordinarily,
crafting a move from her
famed royal wave.

It’s been a blast

Agedly sagedly
David F Attenborough
said we were doomed
with a very sad face.

We dragged our knuckles round
uncomprehendingly,
wrapped him in plastic
and launched him to space.

And Here Be The Rules

  • A double dactyl has 8 lines divided into two stanzas.
  • Each line should consist of two dactyls. A dactyl is a rhythmical foot with a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables like this: “YOM-pa-pa”
  • Lines 4 and 8 are the exception to this, rounding off each stanza with a “YOM-pa-pa YOM.”
  • Line 1 should consist of a pair of slightly nonsensical rhyming words. These can be relevant to the theme, or not. They might simply be there as a little oral warm-up. Flonkington plonkington.
  • Line 2 should consist of a single name. Now, some people’s names are simply MADE for double dactyls, (Gillian Anderson, Christopher Ecclestone, Edward Jehazaphat*) but many are not. A middle initial (“David F Attenborough) or slightly illegal adjective, (“Dear Queen Elizabeth”) can help, but some names, alas, are just beyond the reach of the double dactyl.
  • Line 6 should ideally consist of a single, six-syllable word. Quite a lot of double dactyl writers gently ignore this rule however. Why? Because it’s REALLY awkward.

And there you go. Simple. Right?!?

 

If you’re loving the double dactyl, by the way (and what’s not to love), Snakeskin Poetry recently did a rather marvellous DD special feature, which you can find here.

And if you’d like to find out more about the origins of the form (ie who on earth thought this was all a good idea and why), take a look here. There are some more examples to enjoy too.

And finally, if you’d like some lovely, or fun, or slightly odd poetry to pop up on your newsfeed now and again, all you have to do is follow the itallrhymes Facebook page.

*At the time of writing, Edward Jehazaphat does not exist. But should. 

Living on Mars in a Lava Tube

I’m fascinated by the possibilities of the universe, and by space exploration. But it always strikes me as odd that we get so excited about possible places which are “fit for human habitation” on other planets. These “habitable” places are, of course, still fraught with the most horrific challenges.

It was recently suggested, for instance, that humans could live in the massive ancient lava tubes which snake beneath the surface of Mars. Which initially sounds like some kind of permanent funfair lifestyle in a jazzy Martian flume. But what kind of existence would it be really? Dark, airless, hostile – and probably hundreds of other depressing adjectives.

Could we not perhaps try cleaning up our act, limiting our population growth, and staying on lovely, LOVELY Earth? Would that be SO mad??

Living on Mars in a Lava Tube

Living on Mars in a lava tube?
What fun, my dears, what fun!
We’ll surf on the flows, and then maybe – who knows –
we will gather when day is done
to remember the sea and the sun.

Living on Mars in a lava tube –
no actual lava, you say?
Just vacuum and dust in the cold of the crust
and the dark? Still, a great place to stay
as we cower from cancer all day.

Living on Mars in a lava tube –
it’s so smashing to know that we could!
If we poison our sky—never mind! We’ll just fly
to this welcoming new neighbourhood.
Hooray! It’s a plan then. Sounds good.

First published by Light Magazine in its Poems of the Week feature. www.lightpoetrymagazine.com

 

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I Just Don’t Like Walt Whitman Much


I Just Don’t Like Walt Whitman Much

I just don’t like Walt Whitman much.
I’ve said it now. Such heresy!
I mean, his stuff’s not bad as such,
but wordy Walt is not for me.

He penned some killer lines but still,
I don’t enjoy Walt Whitman much.
Just say, it Walt, then stop! Don’t fill
three pages up with double Dutch!

Americans! Condemn me! Clutch
your hearts and seize my boorish pen.
She doesn’t like Walt Whitman much?
What kind of poet IS she then?”

My cousins, you may seethe and tut,
but face it. He goes on a touch.
Perhaps I’m way too British but…
I just don’t like Walt Whitman much.

 

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Get Fit with Boris

I don’t really mind that the government are advising us to lose weight, although combining it with incentives to eat out seems not ENTIRELY joined up! Nonetheless, it’s a TERRIFIC opportunity to take the piss, and who am I to refuse.

Get Fit with Boris

Drop your chips and sausage patties,
get in shape for Covid, fatties!
Come on Maureen! Come on Doris!
Let’s get fit with beefy Boris!

OK, let’s start. To get us warm,
we’ll streeetch the truth. Feels good! Now form
a partnership with someone near –
aaand leave. NICE WORK! Next, let’s all veer

towards the right – and right again –
aaand right. Come on now! Feel the pain!
Now sink real low to please the press,
reach out and… take donations! Yes!

You’re doing great! Last thing – let’s weave –
AVOID those questions! Nice work, Steve,
and good job, Raj! Now, who’s with me?
It’s two for one at KFC.

 

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Image: Pixabay

 

 

 

Bummer

 

Bummer

My buttocks have grown little wings,
the result of a number of things,
but primarily my
predilection for pie
and the filthy fulfilment it brings.

I have side-bums that flap like a cape!
I’ve tried Spanx! I’ve tried packaging tape!
Oh, but hope ever springs
that these wings are the things
that my arse-fat will use to escape.

 

For rhymes, non-rhymes and other poetry-related capers, why not follow my Facebook page?  www.facebook.com/itallrhymes

The Lockdown Lament

This one needs no introduction…

The Lockdown Lament

“Oh to spend time with the family!
Freed from our offices! Freed from our schools!
Imagine the hours of harmony!”
That’s what we said, we ignorant fools.

Have you ever tried video-calling New York
to talk about trends in a businessy way
while your kids disembowel the cat with a fork
and your husband walks by with his goods on display?

Have you ever tried tempting the kids from their screens
to do papier-mâché or make lemonade
or have ‘fun with a workout’ (whatever THAT means)
while they pelt you with attitude, grunts or grenades?

Have you ever tried teaching a nine-year-old maths
and a five-year-old spelling whilst muffling a scream
as you realise you’re living with sociopaths?
‘Is this it?’ you enquire. ‘Am I living the dream?’

“Oh to spend time with the family!
Freed from our offices! Freed from our schools!
Imagine the hours of harmony!”
That’s what we said, we ignorant fools.

 

 

For rhymes, non-rhymes and other poetry-related capers, why not follow my Facebook page?  www.facebook.com/itallrhymes

Photo by John Salvino on Unsplash

Trucking to Tiny Town

Something fun, fluffy and small – perfect for a big wet weekend!

Trucking to Tiny Town

We’re trucking, we’re trucking to Tiny Town
where everything’s teeny-wee-small,
We’ll park our pantechnicon by the gates
cos we don’t want to squash them all!
We’ll swap our big boots for tiny flutes,
and play them a tiny tune,
We’re trucking, we’re trucking to Tiny Town –
PARP PARP! We’ll be there soon!

We’re trucking, we’re trucking to Tiny Town –
we’ve packed them a picnic tea,
A biscuit, a plum and a gherkin – yum yum!
Enough to feed thirty-three!
We’ll shed our big thoughts, and we’ll laugh and cavort
til we feel just as huge as the moon,
We’re trucking, we’re trucking to Tiny Town –
PARP PARP! We’ll be there soon!

 

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Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash

 

Mummy’s Millions


I wish Harry and Meghan well. No-one deserves to be mauled and vilified the way Meghan has been – by the press at least.

But in our very British way, we all seem to be obsessed by where they are going to get their money from. Er… I don’t think Harry has any worries in that department.

Mummy’s Millions

People say “Harry, how WILL you two cope
having nothing – apart from each other?”
I say, “Look, don’t you worry – I’m hardly broke,
I am minted! All thanks to my mother.”

Most will remember her caught in the net
of her fame, undeservedly goaded –
which was tragic. But what all you people forget
is that Mummy was totally loaded.

A people’s Princess! Yes she was! There’s no doubt!
She grew up having people all round her!
There were people to cook and to chauffeur her out
to the polo – where Daddy first found her.

She listened with love to the poor and sick,
she spoke out against conflict and hate,
and she kept twenty million under a brick
round the back of the Althorp Estate.

So I don’t need the palace to give me the nod
and the prejudiced press can jog on,
I have served, I have smiled, now I’m taking my wad…
and me and the missus are gone.

 

 

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Photo by William Krause on Unsplash

Cakey Yum Yum

Just some Saturday silliness…

Cakey Yum Yum

One lost pea on a cinnamon tree
Two giggle-bunnies on a hill (hee hee)
Three French fish in a factory
And a slice of cake for me! (Yum yum)

Four small boys singing baba-doo-dee
Five little bites from a flea (what flea?)
Six grains of sand playing chicken with the sea
And a slice of cake for me! (Yum yum)

Seven posh pigs strutting stylishly
Eight awkward aunts on a bus (Coo-ee!)
Nine black holes – oh catastrophe!
And a slice of cake for me! (Yum yum)

“What ho!” says the vicar, “Will you have another slice?”
“Ooh YES,” I reply, “How nice.” (Yum yum)

 

 

Geek notes: This one exists thanks to my fabulously creative friend Caren Krutsinger, who (jokingly) challenged me to write a poem about peas in a cinnamon tree. 🙂

Like the rhymes? Why not follow the It All Rhymes Facebook page for a rhyme or two in your newsfeed every week?

Photo by Karly Gomez on Unsplash