The Cleave Poetry Webzine [ISSN: 1758-9223]

Cleave poem: A new experimental poetic form.

In announcement, discussion, submission on September 3, 2008 at 5:57 pm

In 2006 I came up with an idea for an experimental poetic form called the Cleave Poem.

One of my aims was to examine how something can be more than the sum of it’s parts and can be 3 in 1: synergy, fusion, co-operation, dialectics, marriage, interdependence, teamwork and The Trinity.

How to read a Cleave poem?

1. Read the left hand poem as a first discrete poem.
2. Read the right hand poem as a second discrete poem.
3. Read the whole as a third integrated poem.

Here are 2 of my cleave poems.

0000000000000000Cleave: Charm.

______________________Don’t let him charm you
don’t listen to his promises his words like birds
_____________scattering flies that flit from brow to lash,
________ready for your flesh, stroking feather kisses on your lips
__he squawks in expectation humming in your ears,
__flapping inside your skull as he lies next to you.
_____________________Don’t! Let him charm you!

(first published in Lights out & other poems: 26 July 2008.)


000000000000Cleave: (untitled)

_____The thief brings darkness, she waits
____he brings the sun for her love
_held beneath his arm her heart
the light of day blazes bright

_________he is united aching
_______with his lover now sightless
________he holds her blind from the sun

(first published in Ink Sweat and Tears: 9 April 2007)

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    1. Unlike some of the other poetic forms listed, this poem does not have a rhyme scheme. David Poems

    2. This is interesting. I have never seen anything like it. I’m going to try this style out. Cleave.

    3. That’s a sweet poem. makes sense at evry angle

    4. […] This past week on dVersepoet’s OpenLinkNight #10 I found a lovely “cleave” poem posted by Neha, titled “Me in the Expanse of You…”  It was my  introduction to the “cleave” form and I wanted to experiment with it this week.  It is actually three poems, meant to be read in order:  First read the poem on the left, then read the poem on the right, and then mesh the two together, line by line, to read the third poem….  More info on this form can be found here…… […]

    5. Sorry, but I was experimenting with this form in 1982. I consider it a natural extension of form experimentation. When I “invented” it back in 1982 I did not think I was the first to stumble upon it. I thought that many before me must have come upon it also. That it is a more or less useless form is attested to in the history of poetry and that it appears to have no history. What it is, is a vehicle to demonstrate ones cleverness, which of course has nothing to do with good poetry.
      On the name. If one thinks a little, he will see that “cleave” is a malapropism as nothing is “cleaved” from anything else.

      I will also state that around the same time I also stumbled across the three column poem, just in case someone gets up to the idea of putting a non-descriptive name on that and claiming they invented it.

      • erthona, “cleave” is a word that has two opposite meanings simultaneously: (1) to be cut apart (the meaning you referred to) and (2) to stick together (the meaning this poetic form is alluding to). So the form name is not at all a “malapropism,” as you say; it is in fact quite an apt descriptive name.

    6. […] of the poem …  and I so put it into bold  italics.  For more about the Cleave Poem go to The Cleave Poetry Webzine where you can read about its origin and history as well as see some examples … and you can […]

    7. […] Corner has posted a link to the Cleave Poetry Webzine which gives the background to the form by its originator. Thanks for that. It’s helpful and […]

    8. […] Dougherty has introduced me to the cleave poem, in her Poetry Challenge #24.  It’s an interesting challenge to write, as the mind needs to […]

    9. […] Cleave Poem is in two halves; “one should be able to read the left column, right column and each line […]

    10. […] if you like, you might choose to use them both, in this case I’d advise you to write a cleave poem which I came across last week through Jane Dougherty […]

    11. […] Corner has posted a link to the Cleave Poetry Webzinewhich gives the background to the form by its […]

    12. […] For Day Seven of National Poetry Month I bring my attempt at a cleave poem. […]

    13. What an amazing form! Thank you for sharing it with us.

    14. […] take a whack at a cleave poem, it’s a three-in-one. Read the one on the left, then the one on the right, then the entire […]

    15. Reblogged this on and commented:
      I have never heard of this form before. I’m learning lots as poetry editor. Thanks to Mary Bast for this. Kaye

    16. […] Cleave Poem – How to read a Cleave Poem (three poems in one) 1) read the Italic column top to bottom 2) […]

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