Friday, January 27, 2023

Poetry Friday: Cascade Poems


In 2023, the Poetry Sisters are exploring transformation in all its forms: conversion, alteration, metamorphosis,  mutation, growth, evolution, revision, modulation, change...

January's challenge was to try a cascade poem, in which the opening stanza (of any length) transforms into the backbone of the poem by "cascading" through the rest of piece. Specifically, each line of the opening stanza becomes the end line for each of the following stanzas. So, if you have a first stanza of ABC, then the next stanza is xxA, and then xxB, and then xxC.

It's a form that because of the repetition, can emphasize what doesn't change: for example, something we can't let go of---producing perhaps, a rant or a eulogy. It also lends itself to explanations of process, or logical argument, making change as orderly as a five paragraph essay. But, it turns out, I wanted to write  about love.

Yes, I know February is the designated month for that stuff, but doesn't January deserve a bit of affection too? And what is love but a transformation of how we see the world?

Nothing has changed since we were young.
You keep a coat for thirty-five years.
I never follow a recipe.
We walk, we talk, we hold hands.

Our first date was 1.1 hours in a Cessna; 
you logged it, pinpointed day and time; 
I had no idea the world held such steadiness;
nothing has changed since we were young.

I still try on new friends, new shoes, new lives,
wander into deep woods, find the sky again;
you land safely, time after time;
you keep a coat for thirty-five years.

You ask where I’m going---
how would I know? I gather words
until I have to give some away;
I never follow a recipe.

Years flow into years--
a steadfast meander;
you, the banks; I, the river; 
We walk, we talk, we hold hands.

---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

My poetry sisters' cascade poems can be found here:


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Bookseedstudio


  1. What a love poem! That last stanza...oh my heart. And such perfectly chosen details that say so much with so few words -- the coat, the recipe (or lack thereof). I hope you'll frame this one and gift it.

  2. Aaaaaahhh, I'm with Mary Lee! This gave me such a lump in my throat. I think you've got your Valentine's gift, Sara.

  3. Sara, your words touch my heart, years in the making. . . I love "you, the banks; I, the river;" and that you started us off with 'love' in January. Thank you!

  4. *happy sigh* Love it, Sara.

  5. Wow. I think I'd fall for someone who took me up in a plane on our first date. What a wonderful look at the small things that fill your lives with such steadfast love. I'm swooning.


  6. Ummm, lucious, this loving story of your relationship Sara, in cascade.
    On a poet level, I tingle at how you "gather words until I have to to give them away/"

  7. "You, the bank, I the river."

    That just moves me to tears. How lovely - to know and be so known. Thanks for sharing this.

  8. Sara, your poem is beautifully crafted to capture the 'steadfast meander' of the last stanza, and there are echoes here of the sentiments in my post and poem, turned inside out and lovely. Perfect how you "emphasized what doesn't change"! Every month could do with a cascade of love.

  9. What a beautiful love poem

  10. Oh, this is such a perfect love poem. That final stanza is wonderful in every way. I also really appreciated your discussion of the cascade as it's given me some more insight into the potential of this form. (By the way, I also was inspired to write a love poem of sorts!)

  11. An absolutely stunning poem--I can picture every line and how they don't really change through time. Thank you for sharing this beautiful work.

  12. These poems are all so amazing. I really love this line "wander into deep woods, find the sky again."

  13. and a river, maybe. I love the poem, but saw in it a conversation with the river flowing out of the canyon in the photo!

  14. Oh, this is so touching. Love it so much.

  15. Sara, this is one of the most beautiful love poems I have ever read. Plus your line about what is love but a transformation anyway. Sigh. You have a gift for writing non-sappy but gorgeous love poems.


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