Recent interest in oral poetic traditions has centred on the possibility of applying cognitive linguistic categories in order to shed light on the nature of poetic improvisation across a range of cultures and historical periods (Boas, 2016). Frames, or topics or scenes, can be seen to be associated with particular scripts, consisting at least partly of formulaic language, which facilitates the process of poetic creation in real time. This paper focuses on the ayyu, a short improvised oral poetic genre common among the Jbala people of northern Morocco. In the first section, I examine the habitual repertoire of two singers, and show how they indeed associate particular frames (love, pilgrimage, etc.) with certain organizational sequences and formulaic phrases that are also found in the context of these frames in the wider corpus of Jebli poetry. In the second part, I focus on the klam, or utterances, inserted in the middle or placed in the end of ayyus that are always ignored in dictated or published versions of these poems. Klam does not strictly belong within the four-line verse, but is consistently delivered during its performance. These utterances seem to have an important role in live performances, operating as a confirmation to the audience that they have picked up the right frame from the rather sketchy information in the quatrain, and from the use of particular formulaic expressions. Interestingly, although the singers generally use the predictable last line, occasionally they come up with a different option, perhaps with a view to surprising their audience or provoking a response. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.