Whittled Words – Reverse 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:




This unique form of poetry has no requirements for subject, meter, rhyme scheme, reference, syllabic count, line/stanza/verse length, or any of the other trappings we have come to associate with form poetry. Although, as with any poetry, there should be an obvious flow to the words. But don’t let that openess fool you. It can be harder to meet this form than it is to meet many others we have reviewed.

Reverse poems are written to be read top to bottom, and conversely, to be read bottom to top. When read in reverse, the poem should elicit a reversal of the tone and sentiment that is given reading it forward. Some incorrectly refer to this as “mirror” poetry, but that is an entirely different form, which we will address at some point in this series, hopefully.

I have no great tricks to help in your attempts at this form. The success will be prefaced mostly on just plain hard work. It may help to write lines alternating between positive and negative statements, and then use connective lines that join the two and flow naturally with both. It is a lot of trial and error, mixed with an eye for editing and a good deal of creativity.




Examples of Reverse Poems:




by Matt P


I’d ask, will you?
No, it won’t happen for
I’d say it’s over

‘I do love you!’
You’re wrong
Why’d think that?

It is not true
Never truly cared
Don’t think I did

You’re not for me
I can’t say that
You’re all I need

With you, I’m…me
You think, but no!
I’m restrained

Chains I’m bound
You stripped the
Freedom I have

Set me free!
In your hold, don’t
You keep me

Leave me alone!
Let me be, don’t
Stay, please don’t

(Now read from bottom to top)





By Brian Bilston

They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way

(Now read from bottom to top)




By Brad Osborne


I am a shuttered soul

Refusing to believe that

Happiness waits for me

It may come as a surprise

Yet I loved so openly

Seen false in every word

Love conquers all things

In the years that come

It will be ready seen

Love doesn’t always win

But more important

It is the greatest gift

So, I will tell you this

It may have been so once

Best is better than good

Yet in these times

It fails to fill the heart

The knowers say

Don’t hide your heart away

The future lies ahead

Pain follows so closely

Don’t let it be well said

It is all you hoped it be

Seen in the evidence

A tragic repeated lie

A foolish mind thinks

Love is everything

(Now read from bottom to top)




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 Reverse poem. Thanks for reading!




35 Responses to “Whittled Words – Reverse Poem”
  1. Era says:

    Beautiful poems

  2. blindzanygirl says:

    I love the examples you give, and your own is lretty amazing.

    • Brad Osborne says:

      So kind of you to say! IF you enjoyed the first poem, you can click on the title or the author’s name to get to Matt’s blog. There you will find some amazing poetry and other literary entertainment. Thanks for all your support! ❤

  3. beth says:

    masterful word work/art

  4. Matt P says:

    I love your poem, Brad! Love oh, love

  5. Matt P says:

    Thanks again for using my work as an example and linking back to my post 🙂

    • Brad Osborne says:

      No, Matt, it is I who should be thanking you for allowing me to use your poetry here. It is perfect to form and a beautiful example. I am doing my readers a great service in making it easy and convenient for them to find and enjoy your art. 😊

  6. Matt P says:

    Here’s another reverse poem I’ve written, Brad. I tried a new theme reversal. Title’s Dying Star.

    -Dying Star

    Yes, see me, please!
    Look at me,
    I still love you
    Even in my demise
    But it makes me explode that
    You’re looking
    Where I’m at;
    In this sea of dying stars
    In the brightest clusters
    To where the Orion is;
    You’re looking
    With a stellar smile,

    How can you look at me?
    To the candescent stars
    You look past my dying light,
    They say
    I don’t believe that!
    Of my dying star
    You ease the fleeting flare
    You are my stargazer
    It is an illusion to think
    You are not
    You’re my every photon
    In my core, you are the fusion
    Fallen out of light
    Soon, I’ll be a dark star


    • Brad Osborne says:

      Another ‘stellar’ example of the form, Matt! 🌟 The two stanza format is tied together beautifully. The length shows real mastery of creating and maintaining a moment. I even love the titling. Your creativity is unbound and so worthy of sharing. Thanks, my friend!

      • Matt P says:

        Thanks, Brad! But hey, it all comes back to your encouragement and inspirational words.

  7. kristianw84 says:

    Wow! Your reverse poem is beautiful!!! 😍😍 I am amazed at how beautifully it flows. I have tried to write one but all I can seem to do is crumble up paper and throw it across the room!! Perhaps I am not the poet I thought I was. Maybe I should just stick to fiction. Lol. You will never cease to amaze me. ❤

    • Brad Osborne says:

      If you gave up on things, you wouldn’t be the beautiful woman you have become. There is no question about your talent with poetry. Reverse poems are hard and take many iterations and edits to get to something that feels right. As you know, writing in one particular form is not a measure of talent. Don’t be so hard on yourself. I love your creativity and way with the written word, regardless of the style or form you choose! ❤💕❤

      • kristianw84 says:

        Thank you, Brad. I cannot nor will I ever give up on poetry or writing in general. I need it like I need air. This form? Maybe. Lol. Maybe it’s the rebel in me lashing out at my inner adult for making her conform to a rule. Maybe I need to spend some time in my kitchen. Kneading bread, rolling out dough, decorating a cake…. sometimes it’s all it takes to help me find my flow. Maybe there is an upside to having so many passions and being a lover of so many things!

      • Brad Osborne says:

        Go burn some biscuits, girlfriend! 😂🤣😁

      • kristianw84 says:

        🤣😂🤣😂 I might make some buttermilk biscuits, but I hope I don’t burn them.

  8. pendantry says:

    These are amazing. I particularly enjoyed ‘Refugees’ — very, very clever!

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Yes, my favorite too! Brain Bilston is a renown poet and novelist that has been referred to as the “Poet Laureate of Twitter”. Great stuff! Thanks for all your support!

  9. Jim Borden says:

    that looks incredibly challenging, but you did a wonderful job putting your poem together.

  10. I loveeeddd reading this post, your poems sound awesome when read aloud!

  11. That is really interesting and looks difficult. I am going to give it a try though! We shall see.

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