Whittled Words – Bop Poem



Welcome to the weekly series, Whittled Words. A series highlighting the innumerable types and styles of poetry to challenge any creative wordsmith. This week’s selection:




A recent invention, the Bop form was created by Afaa Michael Weaver during a summer retreat of the African American poetry organization, Cave Canem. Not unlike the Shakespearean sonnet in trajectory, the Bop is a form of poetic argument consisting of three stanzas, each stanza followed by a repeated line, or refrain, and each undertaking a different purpose in the overall argument of the poem.


Here are the basic rules:

  • 3 stanzas
  • Each stanza is followed by a refrain
  • First stanza is 6 lines long and presents a problem
  • Second stanza is 8 lines long and explores or expands the problem
  • Third stanza is 6 lines long and either presents a solution or documents the failed attempt to resolve the problem


This is where poetry form blurs with prose as, with the absence of rhyme scheme, meter, or delineation of line length, it may appear very open. But the requirement and challenge of writing sequentially, with an expectation to meet with either abatement or acceptance of a story line, defines this as a form.



Examples of Bop Poems:


27 BOP

by Sara McNulty


Blood fades from her face; she wails,
curses, finally moves up a notch to rage,
asking, how can he do this again
and again. Thinks of those times she sat
back as he spun like a broken record,
tales so tangled, she’d forget the truth.

Offer a shoulder to lean on, and stay silent.

Twenty-seven years together, she older
by ten. Traumatic time for a woman of later
years to fresh forward, but don’t I deserve
a better life? she asks. Clicks keys, surfs
the net in search of a woman lawyer, impressive
credentials. It is time. Shaking, she crosses
the threshold into the office, where she consults,
provides information, and signs papers.

Offer a shoulder to lean on, and stay silent.

He turns victim–stunned, hurt–agog
at her accusations. She will not speak.
He pens a soap opera saga, refuting
each bullet point of her arsenal. Pleads
with her, at least talk to me. Four hours
later, her eyes glaze; divorce is off the table.

Offer a shoulder to lean on, and stay silent.



By Laurie Kulp

Sue walks through the house when she talks on the phone
pacing back and forth, picking up here and there.
This day was like no other, going along as planned
until Sue spotted on the white rug a blade of green
slither by and disappear under a big orange chair;
the scream was a fog horn in her poor friend’s ear.

We all need sunshine, time to play outside.

Sue stood like a statue as if stoned by Medusa,
she was not accustomed to snakes in the house
(although Sue once encountered a small mouse
and found it so adorable she made it her pet).
Some thought Sue eccentric, a wee bit whimsy;
bold colors and feathers she wore in her hair
and her home an alluring fairy tale cottage
but a snake inside she found horrific and vile.

We all need sunshine, time to play outside.

Sue called for her neighbor, dialed 9-1-1
the whole time her eyes glued to the chair.
Her stilettos would make perfect weapons
thought Sue as she blew bubbles and waited.
When the young, hot fireman entered her house,
the little green lizard made its way home.

We all need sunshine, time to play outside.




By Brad Osborne

We clear cut the Amazon

With intentional brown scars

Muddy tears make way to the sea

Breath carried away like topsoil

We feed on the land

Our forested buffet

The world cries out and we do not hear

We melt the Arctic seas

As shorelines disappear

Fossils fueling our desires

We burn the past

Our future in the fires

An exhaled species

The fate of the warming

An unheeded warning

The world cries out and we do not hear

We watch with sad tears

This beauty we disgrace

Spins quietly in space

Our giving Mother

Our only home

Filled with deaf ears

The world cries out and we do not hear




I hope you have enjoyed this entry to the series, Whittled Words. I look forward to your comments, and if you dare, maybe share your own Bop poem. Thanks for reading!




36 Responses to “Whittled Words – Bop Poem”
  1. beth says:

    so sad and well done

  2. Francisco Bravo Cabrera says:

    Very interesting form Brad. A great way to transmit emotions and feelings…I can see Bop as a powerful way to communicate and your piece was fantastic! Not only for its artistic value but also for its actual value and message, especially in the last line: “The world cries out and we do not hear.” Loved it Brad,
    All the best,

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Thank you, my dear friend! Your input is invaluable to me and much appreciated, always! Best to you and yours!

      • Francisco Bravo Cabrera says:

        Your work is awesome my friend and I greatly appreciate reading your poetry!
        All the best,

  3. kristianw84 says:

    Your poem is very deep and profound. An excellent message! I adore your mind. You have an incredible ability to evoke great emotions in a few short lines while paying attention to details and following patterns. It’s not an easy task, something I need more practice with. It seems to come natural to you, my guess is that it doesn’t, but you’re just that phenomenal. It’s like Prince playing guitar, he made it look so easy, but Prince didn’t just play the guitar, he made love to it. And anyone who has ever played guitar will tell you it’s not easy. He had a raw and special talent that succeeded most guitarists, even Eric Clapton said “How should I know? Ask Prince,” when asked what it was like to be the greatest guitarist alive. You, my dear, are the Prince of poetry.

    • Brad Osborne says:

      You are too kind with your words and praise! You are correct, writing to form is not easy, but like most things they we have a passion for, the work is a labor of love and never seen as a burden. If I make it look easy, then I apologize for misleading my readers, because it surely is not for me. If I were to stay with your guitarist analogy, I see my self more as a studio musician in a world for of front men. Good enough for the background, but short of being the main act. Maybe that is a false humility or maybe it is a realistic view of my talents, who can tell? Thank you, as always, for your inspiration, support, and unwavering love! 😘❤🥰

      • kristianw84 says:

        There is absolutely no reason for you to apologize. Good enough? *scoffs* You far surpass good enough. Your view of your talents will always be harsher than that of your readers, but we are the ones blessed with opportunity to read such exquisite poetry, so false humility or realistic for you is moot. It may very well just be good enough for you to share, but I am the one with her hand over her heart, feeling intense emotions, and screaming at the world to not only read your words but comprehend them, because we could all benefit from your words of wisdom.

      • Brad Osborne says:

        Is this one of those times we you are right, simply because you are so rarely wrong? (sorry folks, just an inside joke)

      • kristianw84 says:

        Yes! See, I knew you’d catch on eventually. 😂😉

  4. blindzanygirl says:

    Thankyou for this. I like the form. I have just created my own Bop Poem on my blog.

    Here it is

    Dim light falls on the one on the bed
    Who struggles to wake and breathe each day
    She rubs her eyes and rolls over groaning
    Pain screaming in every burdened limb
    She curses in distress this can’t go on
    Pulling her body into half sitting position

    Here I am hold onto me

    The light grows as she sits crying
    Each breath is hard to take each limb exhausted
    She shivers with cold as the day hits her
    Feeling the assault in the depths of her being
    Her chest explodes into fits of coughing
    Her legs twitch relentlessly she clutches her chest
    Exhausted she falls back onto the flattened pillow
    The bed feels like a bed of nails

    Here I am hold onto me

    The light grows brighter as birds start to sing
    Outside in the world are living beings
    Her heart beats in time with the jubilant singing
    Her legs relax she lets go of her chest
    She mouths some words from her bed of pain
    It will be okay for I can hear singing

    Here I am hold onto me

    • Brad Osborne says:

      A beautiful and touching example of the form. You create a world and the reader becomes fully immersed in it. We feel the struggles, we share the pain, and we find the hope that remains. Well written and a lovely homage to the form!

  5. Matt P says:

    Nice! The post ended with an indirect call. The best, Brad!

    This form is quite long. But I’ll try now, I’m thinking of writing another poem using two forms.

  6. Matt P says:

    Here’s my work, Brad. Minus the refrains, this can be an acrostic poem. I accept criticism 😆

    Pained, a ruptured soul in vengeance
    How far can you go?
    Once been on death’s brink
    Emerges anew, escaping’s a fluke
    Numbing strikes, deaf to pleas
    Innocence stripped, now you vow
    X’d are their bloody names

    Love or vengeance; lightness or weight?

    Survived barely in an atrocity
    Course of the hunt down’s reversed
    Once betrayal’s prey, now in
    Raging, ruthless retribution
    Consumed by boundless hate
    Having not a bit of contrition
    Extirpates the hunters, now hunted
    Searing, blood-thirsty avenger

    Love or vengeance; lightness or weight?

    I fear I can’t stay, calculating but
    Not when my ice will thaw
    Fire you can’t burn all the world so
    It’s destroying you from the inside
    Rage is consuming you yet in the
    End you’ve got to choose

    Love or vengeance; lightness or weight?

    -Ice Prince

    • Brad Osborne says:

      No criticism to give in the negative. You have obviously grown a penchant for acrostic poems. And your blending of forms is a unique and creative effort I have yet to see from another poet. I have trouble wrestling one form into submission, much lass trying to combine them. Mad respect for your creativity! This reads beautifully! Your word and grammar choices create a smooth and sensible flow. And your final stanza brings the closure so important to the form in a powerful way! Well written!

      • Matt P says:

        Thank you, Brad! I’m so humbled. I like acrostic poems, actually double acrostics but combining two forms is already a challenge.

  7. I love the scenic predicaments and the budding, deterrent words. Fabulous!

  8. petespringerauthor says:

    As a long-time environmentalist, I appreciate the substance of your poem.

  9. Jim Borden says:

    such an unusual style of poem. but you took it and created a powerful poem that speaks to our poor treatment of Mother Earth. I also love how some of your followers are leaving their own take on the forms of poetry that you introduce. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

    • Brad Osborne says:

      I love that readers have left their creations of the form for my readers to enjoy. That was initially the whole idea behind the series. Some try the form and post their poems on their own blog, and that is just as rewarding for me. It didn’t seem like much when I started the series, but now it does bring me great joy to encourage others to stretch their poetic muscles. Thanks, Jim! There is always room for yours….just saying! 😁

      • Jim Borden says:

        it’s wonderful to see that you have created your own community here on WordPress, and have motivated others to share their poetry. I do hope to try my hand at that poetry type (tautogram) where every word starts with the same letter. I just have to make sure I have a dictionary beside me when I give it a shot! Have a great day!

      • Brad Osborne says:

        Juggling, balloon animals, doctorates, and now poetry……Okay, now you are just showing off! LOL 😂

      • Jim Borden says:

        I’m building up my resume for one of those Noble prizes… 🙂

  10. This is a series that I truly love Brad. I’ve never heard before of a Bop poem. You teach us great things.

    “We watch with sad tears
    This beauty we disgrace
    Spins quietly in space
    Our giving Mother”

    You melted my heart. Those verses are so beautiful. This poem should be broadcasted so we all can hear its message over and over again.
    Thank you for sharing.

  11. hi Brad sir, here’s my attempt to your prompting post
    please do see and tell me how was it.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Bop Poem. If you want to try, visit Whittled Words- Bop Pem by Brad […]

  2. […] attempt at Bop Poem. Inspiration: Whittled Words by Brad, as […]

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