#Cinquain Poetry: Reach Your Destination with Maps

Map out your thoughts about maps, or borrow mine then write a cinquain with me. See where your mind travels.

#OneWordChallenge – nothing

Examining the Topic

We take maps for granted – shame on us. Many of us barely remember how to read a map. We follow along with our car on the dashboard which is always going straight up, no matter what the direction. We check out a location on the map by spinning our cursor so that we can go on a virtual tour which includes street names imprinted on the roads.

Wiki how

Writing the Poem

Who knew there were so many styles of syllabic Japanese poetry? Even though I gave a cursory nod to cinquain and haiku poetry when I taught fourth grade, all I remember is that haikus had something to do with nature.

There’s more to it. Some forms work well with emotions, some with nature. I can’t keep them all straight in my mind.

When I saw Tuesday’s prompt of “Maps,” I panicked. Definitely no emotions in a map for me unless I’m lost. Then I’m angry. There’s no way I can go down that road, Siri. It’s one way and cars are coming! Quick pull into a parking lot! (That happened to me at night in South Bend, Indiana, where I’d never been, late at night – like around 8:00 pm, with my frantic brother in the passenger seat.)

They are not an act of nature, although hurricane and other weather maps chart acts of nature. Firemaps pinpoint the fires.


Colleen gave me some guidance, so I’m sharing it with you, for those of you who are new aficionados like I am.

Marsha, I would begin with a form that appeals to you the most. The cinquain would be a good one to start with. The rules are more forgiving than the Japanese forms. Work with this form for a couple of weeks. Make the last line of your cinquain the most important. This is where you change your focus away from the drama of the first four lines. That last line should be a surprise. To begin, try making a list of the things that the word “maps” make you think of. You know, like traveling, unknown journeys, etc. Then, work with your syllables on https://www.howmanysyllables.com/words/finally, click the workshop tab. The program counts the syllables for you. (I use my fingers, but we won’t go there.) Let me know how you are getting along. ❤

Colleen Chesebro


Eighteen- O – Four

Hand drawn map, squiggly lines

Imagine Lewis and Clark with


Dirt trails

End at raging river, no bridge 

Cliff ahead, make U-turn

Imagine It


Cinquain & Reverse Cinquain = a Mirror Cinquain

Lewis and Clark

Marsha’s Map Brainstorm

Maps – brainstorm – writing – outline, road maps, floor plans, old maps, land ownership, businesses, topography, squiggly lines, drawing, hand-drawn, satellite, car zooming down road taking pictures, war map, Google, Bing, 3 D, MapQuest, cartography, charting location, live traffic, dynamic imagery, arrival time,

Colleen’s Cinquain Cheat Sheet

CINQUAIN: A cinquain is a form of shape poetry that looks great centered on the page. The required syllables needed for each line give it a unique shape. The cinquain (aka the quintain or the quintet) is a poem or stanza of five lines.

The Crapsey cinquain is a five-line, non-rhyming poem featuring a syllable structure of 2/4/6/8/2. Choose words that create drama which builds into the fourth line. Remember the turn occurs on line five, the most important line. This is where you change your focus away from the drama in some interesting way. Surprise your readers!

The Crapsey cinquain has seen several variations by modern poets, including:

Reverse cinquaina form with one 5-line stanza in a syllabic pattern of two, eight, six, four, two.
Mirror cinquaina form with two 5-line stanzas consisting of a cinquain followed by a reverse cinquain.
Butterfly cinquaina nine-line syllabic form with the pattern two, four, six, eight, two, eight, six, four, two.
Crown cinquaina sequence of five cinquain stanzas functioning to construct one larger poem.
Garland cinquaina series of six cinquains in which the last is formed of lines from the preceding five, typically line one from stanza one, line two from stanza two, and so on.

Related Posts

Contact Me

If you know of someone who hosts a writing or photo challenge and would like to participate in my interview series on challenge hosts, feel free to email me at tchistorygal@gmail.com.

Author: Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

20 thoughts on “#Cinquain Poetry: Reach Your Destination with Maps”

  1. You did it! Well done! We used to live Great Falls, MT. My husband got his degree in history form there. Lewis and Clark was his speciality! I like the way you collected your thoughts. You “mapped” them out well. Sorry… I had to say it! ❤ 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. LOL, that’s a kind of mapping. In teaching we call it mind-mapping, and it is the first step in the writing process, of course. This challenge definitely expanded my thinking both about maps and about the writing itself. It’s such a great challenge and I love your enthusiasm and helpfulness. I have to admit, that I get cold feet before I jump in and give it a whirl.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Way! It does expand my creativity, but that doesn’t mean I’m not afraid to jump in and try it. 🙂 Narrowing my decisions about what kind of poem to write helped focus me and get me going.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robbie. Do you post it or are your poems in your collections – or both? Writing poetry has always been a real challenge for me. I don’t feel enormously deep or emotional, but once in a while I feel like I score.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. HI Marsha, I do post, but I haven’t written a lot of poetry lately. I have been so busy with my book and the short stories for the two anthologies I’m participating in. I also have a collection with poems with another South African poet, Kim Blades.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. What a fun post this was Marsh. You did a fabulous job, and loved the sharing of the journey there. Two things: I never trust digital maps to take me somewhere without my looking at a full map first. I’m a great navigator and enjoy reading real paper maps. Secondly, like Colleen, I count syllables on my fingers too LOL ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny girl. I can easily count up to two or three syllables, which gets me through a modern Haiku. Seven is a little more challenging because it takes two hands, so I have to stop typing, but I can manage it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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