Line breaks in free verse are important, and you choose to break a line can change the meaning of everything.  Consider for a moment:

It is 8:28 am and I have eaten.

People no longer crowd the eisles.

There are two things, as a reader of poetry, that do not impress me about the above.  First, lines are end-stopped, halting the reader at the end of the line.  So, it’s an extra long reading pause.  Plus, those line endings do absolutely nothing artistically.  So, consider this slight alteration.

It is 8:28 am and I have eaten. People

no longer crowd the eisles.

Changing that one little linebreak alters everything, suggesting a sense of cannibalism that was not in the first set of lines.  This is why, of course, it’s always important to look at each line of free verse as single unit, no matter where the punctuation rests.  So, imagine the giddy sense of naughtiness I managed to sneak into a poem (“I Will Survive”) that was solicited from me, for the anthology Dead Bells.

blown.  I wish I was

The line before is about people and their kazoos.  The line after is about dancing to Gloria Gaynor.  Certainly, that section of the poem doesn’t overtly suggest or preoccupy itself with oral sex, but this line does — even more, it speaks to the inherent loneliness of the speaker, who’s woken up in a gay bar, only to find that the world has ended and everybody around him is dead.    Of course, I can’t really quote more of the poem, partly because that anthology hasn’t been published yet.

In a successful free verse poem, no line is haphazard, and even though it doesn’t appear that way, the line breaks are highly calculated.    Of course, this is but one lineation strategies of many, but over time, it’s become one of my favorites.

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