Dont Forget to Plug in Repeating Lines in the Following Stanza

This will keep you on track so you don't have to memorize the pattern of a pantoum. For instance, after creating my first stanza, I knew what the first and third lines of my second stanza would be. I also knew that the second and fourth lines would be new, again containing dual functions:

To haunt us. Say your mantras, make your peace.

(Compose second line that also makes transition)

Something dies within. Something is released.

(Compose fourth line that also propels the poem)

I concentrated on the new lines. The second one not only had to connect with the line above it but also had to serve as a transition for the stanza to follow. The fourth line not only had to connect with the line above it, completing the stanza, but also had to propel the poem to the next stanza.

Sensing that, I decided to pun the phrase "Say your mantras, make your peace" and continued the pantoum with this stanza:

To haunt us. Make your mantras, say your piece:

You were worthless then, dear. And worthless now. Something dies within. Something is released. In time you'll learn to let your goodness go. . . .

So far so good. I was on a roll. Because I had written pantoums before, I knew that my lines should take on new meaning when repeated in following stanzas. To help that, I fashioned lines that could be broken into phrases or that employed homonyms and homophones—words that sound the same but have different meanings —to propel the poem.

I continued in this manner until I hit a snag, which always happens. In my first draft, the snag occurred one stanza before the ending:

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