Writing Exercise

by | March 6, 2014 | Writing Exercise | 9 comments

 by Ashley Lister

 Since we started looking at poetry as a writing exercise we’ve
considered various syllable forms. The most famous of these is the haiku, usually
interpreted in Western writing as three lines containing 5-7-5 syllables.

As I’ve said before, I enjoy the discipline of syllable forms
because it forces us to approach words from a different angle. We’re counting
syllables as well as considering the perceived denotations and connotations of potential

There are other variations on this syllable-counting theme.
One of the more popular is the tanka.

The tanka is similar to the haiku except it’s longer in that
it’s usually five lines and interpreted as 5-7-5-7-7 syllables. Given that it’s
almost double the length of the haiku, the tanka can still be surprisingly

However, this month’s form is not the 5-7-5-7-7 syllable tanka.
This month we’re looking at the somonka.

The somonka is made up of two tanka-sized stanzas presented as
an exchange of love letters.

Note to my master
I come to you on my knees
Ready and willing
My bare flesh is yours tonight
Do with me as you see fit

To my submissive
Thank you for your love letter
It was not needed
Your bare flesh is mine tonight
But only if I want it

Does that look simple enough? Two tank-sized stanzas (5-7-5-7-7
syllables) presented as an exchange of love letters. I look forward to seeing
your somonkas in the comments box below.

Ashley Lister

Ashley Lister is a UK author responsible for more than two-dozen erotic novels written under a variety of pseudonyms. His most recent work, a non-fiction book recounting the exploits of UK swingers, is his second title published under his own name: Swingers: Female Confidential by Ashley Lister (Virgin Books; ISBN: 0753513439) Ashley’s non-fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Forum, Chapter & Verse and The International Journal of Erotica. Nexus, Chimera and Silver Moon have published his full-length fiction, with shorter stories appearing in anthologies edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Mitzi Szereto. He is very proud to be a regular contributor to ERWA.


  1. Nettie

    ****letters may not necessarily be direct between the two, but referential.***

    Somonka in G Minor

    Small and round, she was
    a sparrow of a woman.
    Still, her nipples grew
    plump and brown against my tongue;
    and she – velvet to my thrust.

    The time was enough
    for the sparrow's song to still.
    Your heart stopped its beat
    of my name when you withdrew.
    Your disregard filled my womb.

    • Lisabet Sarai

      So gorgeous, Nettie!

  2. Nettie

    Thanks, Lisabet! At least this one didn't require knowing the end before I started. Those kind always kill me.

  3. Ashley R Lister


    I have to agree with Lisabet's comments. This is gorgeous and a great use of the form.

    Always a pleasure to read your work.


  4. Rachel Green

    Wow, Nettie. Seriously beautiful.

  5. Rachel Green

    I would slough my flesh
    and pare it from the tissue
    leaving the muscle
    my heart beating a rhythm,
    a love song of sacrifice

    Pierce your eyeballs
    with the tip of red nails
    tell me you love me
    Perhaps then I will believe
    your love is more than skin deep

  6. Rachel Green

    (notification enabled)

  7. Ashley R Lister

    Rachel – wow. (apologies if the literary criticism went too indepth there).

    Love this.

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