Baker's Dozen. Bless the women Kneading flour at the oven Every night, working overtime: They know the alley-people come Empty-handed at break of dawn

Waiting for the inn to open,

To smell the scent of cinnamon

Remembering home. Ringelreim: baker's dozen.

The racks of rolls, croissant and scone In the window display again Raise their hunger and hope. This time Someone leaves a batch in their name. Our lives are interwoven: baker's dozen.


1. For best results, pick a topic that defines, deconstructs or puns a word or phrase. (In my poem I use baker's dozen to allude to the homeless alley-people, along with its standard meaning — extra or thirteenth piece.)

2. Use the word or phrase to begin your first line. Make sure the first line ends with a rich rhyme word. Or slant rhyme the word for more possibilities.

3. Pick another rich or unusual sound for the second rhyme word.

4. Plug in the word or phrase (R) at the end of the second and third stanzas.

5. Contemplate the word or phrase and envision the poem. The word or phrase enhances and shapes content. When repeated at the end of the eighth line, it should take on new meaning. When repeated at the end of the last line, it should suggest an epiphany or express a punch line.

6. Compose the poem.

Other related form: Rondeau Redouble. Not only does this poem contain a partial repetition of the opening word or phrase from the first line, indicated by (R) — which should rhyme with the end word of the first line — but it also has repeating rhyming lines as in a villanelle, indicated by A1 and A2 and by B1 and B2.

All the repeating lines are in the opening four-line stanza and recur, one after the other, as the last lines in the following four stanzas. The entire poem operates on two rhymes, so you have to pick exceptionally rich ones. You also have to shape the lines of the first stanza as you would lines of a pantoum.

Once the first stanza is written, plug in the lines according to this rhyme scheme: (R)A1B1A2B2 babA1 abaB1 babA2 abaB2 babaR.

As you can see, the very structure of the poem shapes its content: a proposition put forth in the first stanza, with each condition (line) of that stanza developed in the following four stanzas, with the final stanza coming to a firm conclusion.

Finally, in the mini anthology, you'll be reading a traditional villanelle by Ronald Wallace, a freestyle sestina by Diane Wakoski and a freestyle pantoum by Joyce Carol Oates.

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