image credit: Prelena Soma Owen


guarding your hole,
neither your wife nor you
will cuckold the other's colourful soul,
so sit
on your coming two.
in peace
for strife is your least
affliction to fear of in life;
so gaze at the geese, and take time to feast
or go
for a drink with your wife.
it's dawn,
perhaps you'll mourn
 - to the honeyguide's carefree song -
two eggshells torn, but a third one born
your son
who survived the wrong.


one swan swam on a mere.
we saw one more.

This is perhaps my favourite product from a recent experiment. The challenge involved writing only with letters which had no “heads” or “tails” – i.e. I didn’t use any letters which extend above or below the line. It turns out that this is fully half of the alphabet, and a good deal of punctuation on the side. The constraints of working only with the letters w, e, r, u, o, a, s, z, x, c, v, n and m are quite frustrating, but yield interesting results! The result is “flat poetry”, poetry with both hands tied behind its back, where each line is unerringly neat as a ruler.

If you give it a go, please comment below!

I also wrote a few longer-form story poems in this format, which I’ve shared in three separate posts on my Patreon page. If you’re interested, you can start reading here.

UPDATE: this type of writing is called a lipogram, specifically the omission of a letter or letters from the writer’s bag of tools. I don’t know if anyone has done flat poems before. Other lipograms may, for example, avoid using all vowels except the letter “a”.