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The First Heartbreak – Exercise in Dactylic Meter


In my Techniques of Poetry class, we are working with meter. As I’ve been experimenting, I’ve realized that poetry in meter is actually extremely difficult. I guess I’ve just been one to take free verse for granted all my life. It’s much easier to get thoughts across when you don’t have to focus on the rhythm and syllables of a given line. And to write in meter without a cliché rhyme scheme–that’s probably one of the biggest struggles. Anyways, this is one of the poems I’ve been working on. It’s an exercise in dactylic meter: stressed, unstressed, unstressed (/uu/).

The First Heartbreak

You are the one who will suck me all dry,

I can just tell by your shadowy face.

Blue eyes like fresh ice, I’ll fall in and freeze—

hoping my heart will tie knots around yours.

Hands are rough. I’m taken. I’ll hold my breath.

You’ll lift me, throw me into the night sky.

Icicles will fall, I’ll float through the air—

Chicago skyline—I know with eyes closed,

edges of towers and lights miles above.

Though you will break me, I’ll love you the same.



Featured Image Credit: Matthew Kwong

This entry was posted in: Poetry


Marisa Donnelly, M.Ed., is a writer/editor, credentialed teacher, proud bonus mama, and CEO of Be A Light Collective, a coaching and content creation business and digital marketplace. She is the Director of Donnelly’s Daily Apple, a flexible learning/tutoring and educational resource platform, and the lead voice for Momish Moments and Step by Step Parents, verticals dedicated to sharing and advocating for non-traditional parenting journeys. Marisa currently resides in San Diego, California, with her fiancé, kiddo, and their two rambunctious Pitbulls. ❤️


  1. I spent all July of 2009 writing 24 quatrains in dactylic hexameter (with caesuras and things in key places to make it Greek epic meter) for my novel Grace Awakening. It was hard work!

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