The Abracadabra: A New Poetry Game

I invented this game during Paul Violi’s poetry workshop “Romantic Rebellion.” Two examples of the Abracadabra—“Four Reviews” and “Four School Subjects”—are presented below. Read the rules, check it out, and play along!


The player chooses a general topic and four subjects within the topic (e.g. Critical Reviews: Theatre, Book, Food, Film and School Subjects: Math, History, English, Science.)

The player writes four poems—one for each subject (these together make the Abracadabra.)

The poems are written in Dactylic meter—each foot has three beats: Stressed, unstressed, unstressed. ONE, two, three, ONE, two, three. It’s like waltzing. (NOTE: This rule can be broken. If you find a meter better suited to your purposes, you must use that one.)

The rhyme scheme is ABCB. You may write as many quatrains as necessary—but less is more!

The player must use each letter of the alphabet in order throughout each of the four poems. You do not have to use one letter per line, only in order.

In the A-Z words, you may not use the same word twice in the Abracadabra. (This rule can be bent. For example, using “X” to mean “crossing out” is not the same as using “X-” as the prefix for “X-axis.” But try and stay diverse.

* Editor’s note: Click MORE to view Luke’s poems and play along – leave your magic poems in the comments box.  Have fun!

 Four Reviews

I. Theatre Critic

Asinine, Boring, it’s

Clichéd and Dull,

Endless, Forgettable,

Just God-awful!

Horrible, Insipid,

Junk, Kindergarten-

level, Lousy,

Mundane, No good—beg pardon,

But really Outrageous,

Preposterous, quite

Queer, and Ridiculous,

Sophomoric, Trite,

Underwhelming, Vulgar,

Wretched and Xeric

(Meaning “bone dry,”)

Like a Yahoo, hysteric.

Three tiresome hours!

It pains me to say

That Zero’s the best score

I can give this play.


II. Book Critic

Artful and Beautifully-

Crafted. Divine!

Elegant, Fine, Glowing

With each great line.

Honest, Incredible,

Jubilant, Keen,

Lyric, more Marvelous

With each New scene.

Ornate, Poetic, yet

A Quiet read

Rich and Symphonic, a

Treasure indeed.

Its Unpretentious Voice

Defines great Writing

Its Xylophonic prose—

Always exciting.

Pure reading pleasure,

Beginning to end.

Yes! with Zest this

Good book I recommend!


III. Food Critic

Active and Busy,

The kitchen is Crazy,

Diners are Eager to

Eat their Francese,

Goulash, or Halibut—

How International!

Jellies? Nonsensical!

Ketchup? Irrational!

The Lengthy Menu of

Nebulous dishes

Is Overwhelming, though

The owner wishes

That People still pour in,

A Quizzical hoard—

It’s all the Rage, this new

Chic Smorgasbord!

Tut-tut, I take Umbrage;

Shock Value will

Wane, when it leaves you

You’re stuck with the bill.

X marks the spot

Of the next new “it place.”

Young foodies Zoom there—

There’s egg on your face.


IV. Film Critic

Avant-garde, Bold,

And with Clever Directing.

Echoing classics,

His Film’s Genuflecting

To Hollywood rebels:

Indie Johns and Janes

Who Kindled his craft,

Whose Life works he Maintains.

His movie Never

Once compromises,

But Prompts the Question:

Can he win some prizes?

His Risky project—

No Studio picture—

Treats love and war

In an Unflinching mixture

Of Vignettes. Without fear he

X-rays mankind

To seek Yin in Yang, Zen

In chaos to find.

If you’ve grown weary

Of blockbuster junk

This artful film will cure

Your film buff funk.

Four School Subjects


I. Math Class

Arcs Bend in Curves as if

Drifting at sea.

Extend Factorials with

Gamma (not G.)

Height in Isosceles’

Theory, don’t mangle.

Just Know “two equal sides”

Form this triangle.

Linear algebra’s

Hard Math to take,

Numbers are “Real”

Unless, Oddly, they’re—fake?

Planes and their Quadrants, not

Easy to get.

“Rational” Numbers aren’t

Really, and yet

Seeing a Sin or a

Tangent in trig

Makes the feet Under my

Chair want to jig.

Vectors and Waves

On an X- or Y-axis

Fill me with Zeal:

My math mania waxes.


II. History Class

Ancient tribes Battled in

Classical Days

Egypt was Fierce, Greece’s

Heroes joined frays.

Furthermore, India’s

Jewel was Kashmir.

Locals went Mad Naming

Who could live here!

Ottomans conquered

Persia’s golden sands.

Quickly they Raided and

Pillaged their lands.

Rome beat their Sultan, his

Time in the sun

Met an Untimely,

Violent end (Rome Won.)

Such Xenophobic acts

From Yesteryear

Still rise up like Zombies

So wise people, hear.


III. English Class

Adverbs, like Blankly,

Contractions, like Don’t,


Grammar terms won’t

Help if I’m Inside the

Jaws of a beast—

Killer whale, Lion, or

Mammoth. At least

Knowing when a Noun’s an

Object suggests

I’ll Perform well on pop

Quizzes and tests.

Rules about parts of Speech

Have no real meaning;

Trying to Understand

Verbs, I’m daydreaming.

When can I cross this—X—

Off my to-do?

“You’re done,” says my Zany

Teacher, “We’re all through.”


IV. Science Class

Acids and Bases and

Chemical Data,

Elements Float in the

Gaseous strata,

Helium Isotopes—

Just for a Kick,

Laugh Madly with Nitrous

Oxide—but quick!

Protons and Quarks Rotate

Within the atom,


Their Musing Madame.

Under each Very

Complex life form, We

Find a chemical


Xeroxing theories from

Textbooks, You lack

The Spirit of Science,

That Grand Zodiac!