Practice in Repetition: A Pantoum

For the third poem, we were given the option of writing a villanella, pantoum, or sestina – all of which deal in repetition, either with specific words or entire lines.  The pantoum contains four or more quatrains (four-line stanzas) and takes the pattern of repeating the first and third lines from each stanza.  The form, originating in Malaysia, can also use the rhyme scheme of ABAB, but I chose to keep things simple for this piece.  I may play with writing a villanella and/or sestina if inspiration strikes then discuss those forms in more detail in later posts.

After writing the winter sonnet, a scene I remember from the house I grew up in, I chose to write about my favorite place.  For over 60 years and five generations, my dad’s family has had the pleasure of spending time on this lake each summer; for most of my life it has been five days each July.  For those of you who know me, you’ll know why I’m being vague on the details about this lake; for those that are still confused, just know that this place is one of a kind.  I already know I want to write more about the traditions, images and people that make the trip so enjoyable… perhaps it will be a collaborative effort over the holidays?  No one is as lucky as I am to have such an amazing opportunity every year and wonderfully humorous family.  This one is for the Walkers.


I am calm again, here,
as the wind pushes the boat to rock.
I spot wispy clouds and watch the July sun
climb its well-worn path.

As the wind pushes the boat to rock,
we ascend the mountain and
climb its well-worn path
to see the lake, stretching north.

We ascend the mountain and
gasp for air as we run
to see the lake, stretching north
reflecting sky in the midday heat.

I gasp for air as I run,
laughing, past the cabins with windows
that reflect the sky in the midday heat
as I launch into the icy water.

Laughing past the cabins with windows,
I am calm again, here.
As I launch into the icy water,
I spot wispy clouds and watch the July sun.




About jmmack

Full-time swim coach and pool program manager in the Seattle area. Swimmer, writer, cross-stitcher, HP fan, wife, sister, auntie of two nephews, human to a feisty Jack-Russell mix.
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One Response to Practice in Repetition: A Pantoum

  1. Devon Hay says:

    I’m subscribed! <3

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