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A Vietnamese poetry form. It means, simply, "six eight" due to the number of syllables contained in each line: 6,8,6,8,6,8, etc. There's no set length to the luc bat, so you can carry on the rhyming pattern indefinitely- and it's the rhyming pattern that makes this form interesting.

The sixth syllable of every eight-syllable line rhymes with the last syllable of the six-syllable line before it, which in turn rhymes with the eighth syllable of the eight-syllable line before it. When the end of the poem is reached, the last line jumps back and rhymes with the first. It can really be represented best like this, where an asterisk is a syllable and the rhyming words are represented by letters:

* * * * * a
* * * * * a * b
* * * * * b
* * * * * b * c
* * * * * c
* * * * * c * d
* * * * * d
* * * * * d * a

Although I write primarily in free verse, I also enjoy applying unusual poetry forms to what I write, if only because they often yield unexpected material in English. My attempt at a luc bat, below, still has some errors to iron out.


after the storm there were
seagulls dragging the blur of grey
clouds across the sky, stray
threads of rain and sea-spray catching
at their feathers, matching
grease for grease: oil latching on to
the clouds, so even dew,
casting watery-blue shadows
on the grass, had rainbows
slickened with mucky flows of dirt
shining out. a white shirt

hung limp on a pert green line
in the garden: the twine
was taut as a child’s spine, but wet
and displaying, like sweat
beading on lips, the threat that it
would sag to kiss the knit
of grass below. a split across

the storm-eaten sky, gloss
shaded with clouds and moss-tinged where
the horizon touched bare
building-tops, revealed rare seabirds
whirling like waxy curds
in the whey air. whole herds of white
albatross, long-winged, tight
as an arrow, ignite the sky:

but in this bleak July,
I listen for the cry of gulls
even in the clear lulls between storms.

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