poem index

Villanelles

Villanelles
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Cracked Ice
Julie Sheehan
When I return, I'll come in clapboard, stained
chestnut, with lead-based paint on radiators,
old-fashioned, and a little bit insane

but sturdy to a fault. A spalting grain
on punky myrtle and no refrigerator
when I return. I'll come in clapboard, stained

shake shingles skittering on skewed roof planes
that snarl the corner lot like unpaid panders,
old-fashioned and a little bitten, saying,

"Leave our sightlines sharp. Let dormers train
What angles water sheds." They congregate for
when I return. I'll come in clapboard, stained

with varnished truth: you ran me down. You caned
old rockers with prefab splints, hack renovator
refashioning me bit by bit, insane

to strip as spilth fine bulrush. I'll maintain
myself, then. There will be no mediators
when I return. I'll come in clapboard. Stained,
old-fashioned, I'll come a little bit insane.
Villanelles
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Do not go gentle into that good night
Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Villanelles
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Suburban
Michael Blumenthal, 1949
Conformity caught here, nobody catches it,
Lawns groomed in prose, with hardly a stutter.
Lloyd hits the ball, and Lorraine fetches it.

Mom hangs the laundry, Fred, Jr., watches it,
Shirts in the clichéd air, all aflutter.
Conformity caught here, nobody catches it.

A dog drops a bone, another dog snatches it.
I dreamed of this life once, Now I shudder
As Lloyd hits the ball and Lorraine fetches it.

A doldrum of leaky roofs, a roofer who patches it,
Lloyd prowls the streets, still clutching his putter.
Conformity caught here, nobody catches it.

The tediumed rake, the retiree who matches it, 
The fall air gone dead with the pure drone of motors
While Lloyd hits the ball, and Lorraine just fetches it.

The door is ajar, then somebody latches it.
Through the hissing of barbecues poets mutter 
Of conformity caught here, where nobody catches it.
Lloyd hits the ball. And damned Lorraine fetches it. 
Villanelles
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One Art
Elizabeth Bishop, 1911 - 1979
The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant 
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.


—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied.  It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
Villanelles
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Apocalypse Soliloquy
Scott Hightower, 1952
I hope my death is not stolen from me
by a fiery blast of Fahrenheit or Celsius      
or another calculatable accuracy.                       

I will gladly relinquish all the pleasures of daily 
bread, the pride and dreams of art—even pulse;
but I hope my death will not be taken from me.

Actually, it is a modest policy;
little there to discuss as to solace
or in the way of privacy.

A valued moment of self-possession? Might it be
something to embrace more than to expulse?
I hope my death will not be pried from me.

My end is not to be just a cause in a public sea 
of scientists teaming against a disease,
a private point in a welter of piracy.

After all, won't it fundamentally and rightly 
be mine and no one else's? I hope my death is 
not taken from me; better, it be 
an appointment kept in a private sea.