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This month, my poetry sisters and I wrote original villanelles. The most famous villanelle is, of course, "Do Not Go Gentle, Into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas, though I quite like Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art" ("The art of losing is not hard to master;/so many things seem filled with the intent/to be lost that their loss is no disaster.") and "Some Rules" by Wendy Cope ("Stop, if the car is going 'clunk'/Don't answer e-mails when you're drunk.")

Here's an old post of mine that explains the history and requirements of the form.

The additional requirement for our assignment was that it was to have something to do with brevity, so without further ado, here's my villanelle:

by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman

I'm tired, so I'm going to keep this brief:
No one can plug all holes, put out all fires.
These days demand self-care to beat back grief.

Trombones play a disturbing leitmotif,
the falcon whirls in ever-widening gyres.
I'm tired, so I am going to keep this brief.

We protest, as if that will bring relief.
We spend our time on phone calls, posters, flyers. . .
These days demand self-care to beat back grief.

We pray "dear God, forgive our disbelief."
We pray that Trump's impeached, or he retires.
I'm tired, so I am going to keep this brief.

We crash like sailboats blown onto a reef.
Safe harbors are what everyone desires
these days. Demand self-care to beat back grief.

We gather wood and stack it, sheaf by sheaf,
while hoping we're not building our own pyres.
I'm tired, so I have got to keep this brief.
These days demand self-care to beat back grief.

Here are the rest of the posts:

Laura Purdie Salas
Liz Garton Scanlon
Tanita Davis
Sara Lewis Holmes
Tricia Stohr-Hunt

Find the rest of the Poetry Friday posts by clicking the box below:

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( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Laura Purdie Salas
Feb. 3rd, 2017 03:39 am (UTC)
So many great images in here, Kelly. That falcon whirling, the sheaves of wood, the pyre. It's all so distressing and surreal. I hope you are following your own good advice and taking care of yourself!
Feb. 3rd, 2017 03:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Oi
"Turning and turning in the widening gyre,
the falcon cannot hear the falconer.
Things fall apart. The center cannot hold."
That Yeats knew a little something, I think. I've always loved that poem. I even thought about trying to fit a "rough beast" into mine, though perhaps I did it by another name.

Self-care is a daily thing here, especially these days!
Liz Garton Scanlon
Feb. 3rd, 2017 01:21 pm (UTC)
Kelly -- this is so beautiful, so well done, so achey -- "forgive our disbelief...."
Thank you for writing it...
Feb. 3rd, 2017 03:50 pm (UTC)
I know a classic phrasing is "Forgive thou me my unbelief", but somehow, I think "disbelief" is more apt these days. So many things that people refused to believe during the campaign, and some still refuse to believe even as days pass and executive orders pile up. Alas.
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
Feb. 3rd, 2017 01:21 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry you aren't feeling well. I admire your strength in pushing through to write this. It is raw and true. Well done.

I used some of these same words and pondered a boat upon the reef as well. My response to this situation is much less poetic than yours. I'm afraid I'm having trouble writing through the anger and fear.
Feb. 3rd, 2017 03:53 pm (UTC)
The not feeling well portion of the program has been a constant for years now (not that it's daily, but the crashes occur now and again, and I've learned to take them in stride. Which is a lie, but we will pretend it's true.) With a fibro crash, I just feel achy (as if I've got the flu or been in an accident, or sometimes both) - it makes it harder to be physically active, but writing/typing doesn't take much effort, as long as I'm mentally awake enough to do things.

I saw that you also used grief and disbelief - I almost used chief (as in "commander in"), but it didn't scan well.

And yeah - you aren't alone in having trouble writing through anger and fear. It's a known thing. Maureen Johnson and others on Twitter have made that abundantly clear. I like to think of it as an act of resistance, which helps me at least a little.
Sara Lewis Holmes
Feb. 3rd, 2017 03:12 pm (UTC)
"No one can plug all holes, put out all fires." That's why we have each other. That's why I love writing poetry with you. Thank you for this.
Feb. 3rd, 2017 03:54 pm (UTC)
I love our group writing exercises, too, which is why I managed to get this done. And having gotten it done, I feel a bit more like myself, or at least the part of me that writes things. It's truly a win-win.
Feb. 3rd, 2017 05:13 pm (UTC)
Hope you're feeling better today. What a good reminder to take the time for self care. In these strange times, your poem really speaks to me. I think we've all aged years in just the last several months.
Feb. 4th, 2017 01:40 am (UTC)
I am slightly better today after an almost-decent night's sleep. And yes, self-care is key these days.
Feb. 3rd, 2017 07:30 pm (UTC)
This is it
This poem nails what I've been feeling lately. Thank you for these words of encouragement to keep going.
Feb. 4th, 2017 01:40 am (UTC)
Re: This is it
I am so glad it spoke to you. (Or for you?) Taking time for self-care is key - it's gonna be a long haul.
Feb. 3rd, 2017 08:49 pm (UTC)
"We gather wood and stack it, sheaf by sheaf,
while hoping we're not building our own pyres." - So very powerful, and captures beautifully, and painfully, what so many of us are feeling right now.
Feb. 4th, 2017 01:41 am (UTC)
Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Take care of you!
Linda Baie
Feb. 4th, 2017 12:47 am (UTC)
That 'self-care' is now being discussed by therapists, giving advice, offering sustenance of some kind. You've shown the feelings in numerous ways, but that 'pyre' touches as we argue against violent protests. Hoping that won't become the norm.
Feb. 4th, 2017 01:42 am (UTC)
I just worry that people are going to flame out from too much protest and not enough self-care. We all need to pace ourselves!
Mary Lee Hahn
Feb. 5th, 2017 03:09 pm (UTC)
Amen and amen.

I am working hard to take care of myself. "An empty cup can't fill others'."

This is beautiful. Thank you for your gift.
Feb. 6th, 2017 05:07 am (UTC)
I'll be brief: Wow!

So much to admire in this, especially the second stanza's "the falcon whirls in ever-widening gyres" which reminds me of Yeats's "The Second Coming."
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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