10-line Poem Challenge #34: Ten-by-Ten

The Ten-by-Ten was used by (perhaps created by) David Klenda (a.k.a. Eighty Six).

Klenda says: “My favorite poetic form is the ten-by-ten: a one-hundred-beat poem crafted from ten lines of ten syllables each. A good ten-by-ten is like a well-built watch: compact, accurate and efficient. Practice writing them today to sharpen your creative skills. I started building them years ago. I’d been writing a lot of free-verse and accentual poetry. Perhaps I needed some boundaries or a framework. I see a ten-by-ten as a square canvas to paint or a square window to look into. I started writing them all the time about whatever was on my mind.”

In summary, the Ten-by-Ten is:

  • A decastich (10-line poem) written in one single stanza.
  • It is made with 10 syllables per line, written on any subject.
  • Rhyme and rhythm are optional.


Below are three samples for you.

Once more I’ve given you a “bonus,” having done more than my usual two samples. The first two are rather similar in format. They both have an iambic rhythm and both address a commonplace topic. The second one may be a little better example of the form, as I get the idea in my study that enjambment is disallowed. Well, I did include some enjambment in all three sample poems, but “Books” is probably the biggest violator (lines 5 and 8). If you can create a natural pause at the end of each line, then do, for I believe that is what David Klenda intended for this form to accomplish. The point is to come up with exactly ten lines of ten syllables that work together cohesively. My samples will need some more revision in order to accomplish that level of cohesion.

The third sample, “Cravings,” is included because it is not rhythmical. Since both rhythm and rhyme are optional, I wanted to give you a sample that has no set rhythm. You may also notice that the “cravings” occur on multiple levels in this short poem, demonstrating that it is possible to say a lot with just a few lines of poetry.


I’m staring at the books upon the shelves,
Arranged by height for visual appeal,
Yet ordered by their categories too—
Sir Dewey would be proud of me, I think.
Two cases hold a fraction of the books
I used to own before we moved down here.
“You have to thin them out,” my husband said.
His point made sense, for books left on the shelf
Have little value. Thus to give them worth,
They must be taken down, and opened, read.

Copyright © 2018 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved


Each morning I two cups of coffee drink,
Then I exchange my mug for thermos tall.
The ice machine dispenses chunky cubes.
Another button press, and water comes.
I fill it to the brim and close the lid,
Then suck the straw like hungry sucklings nurse.
Before too long I hear the gurgling sound
That tells me I have run my small well dry.
Then back into the kitchen with my cup
To push the button that will fill her up.

Copyright © 2018 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved


It’s midnight, and I’m writing poetry.
Suddenly I feel my belly burning
With a craving for popcorn… or cookies…
Or maybe just another cup of tea.
I drown desire with a glass of water
And return my attention to writing,
Perchance to satisfy my lust for words.
After all, poetry pulled me from bed,
Away from your side, where you lay sleeping.
Even there I wanted what I can’t have.

Copyright © 2018 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved

It’s Your Turn!

Now it’s time for you to write a Ten-by-Ten. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Choose your topic. If you need an idea, check out the prompts at the Daily Post.
  2. May I suggest you write on a piece of paper or in a notebook.
  3. Down the left column write the number 10 ten times.
  4. If you want to rhyme, write your rhyme scheme in the right-hand column.
  5. Then carefully choose your words to flesh out your poem. Do not use filler words, but come up with exactly 10 syllables for each line.
  6. And of course, when you are finished, share your poem with the rest of us.

Don’t know how? Follow these simple steps…

  1. Write your blog post.
  2. Include the tag Decastich Challenge or 10LPC
  3. Publish your post on your blog.
  4. Come back here and click the blue button below to add your link to the others.

Dig Deeper

To find more samples and to learn from those who taught me, check out these sites. All links open in a separate tab so you can easily find your way back here.

Bright Hub Education ~ This is where I learned about the Ten-by-Ten form.

Poet’s Collective ~ The forms on this website are not organized in alphabetical order, but he does have at least one sample poem for each form, he even has tags for rhyme scheme. He also has a visual template for every form so you can see the rhyme scheme and stress patterns, as applicable. That is extremely helpful.

Sol Magazine ~ This resource covers much more than just 10-line poems.

“Metric Forms from Pathways for the Poet” ~ This is an outline of information from Pathways for the Poet by Viola Berg (1977), a book for and by educators. This resource also includes more than just 10-line poems, but it helped to fill in the gaps where my other sources were a bit scanty with their information.

Shadow Poetry ~ This is my favorite resource for learning about poetic forms (and not just the decastich), but I have discovered that there is ever so much more to learn than what I can find here. This is, however, a very good place to start.

8 Replies to “10-line Poem Challenge #34: Ten-by-Ten”

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