villanelle

Ill-anelle, or, The Hypochondriac

Do I feel warm? Put your hand on my head,
I’m burning up, but my hands are cold.
I think I’m coming down with something bad…

My neck is stiff and my eyes are red,
And look—-I never noticed this weird mole.
What do you think? Put your hand on my head.

I could have forgotten to take my meds,
and I ate some chicken that was getting old.
I may have caught something seriously bad!

Maybe pox? Or measles? Something that spreads?
You could have it, too, something out of our control.
Hold still; let me put my hand on your head…

Honestly, you seem fine… But I feel half-dead!
I read about this in Diseases, Foretold
You should always assume it’s something bad.

Don’t I seem woozy? I should be in bed…
And that incessant humming; it’s taking its toll!
I’ve got to get an ice pack on my head,
I’m in real pain here, and it’s worse than bad!

For 2016, A Villanelle

I like writing poetry because it’s like condensing the feelings that are slowly expressed in fiction down to a few raw lines. I like writing in forms because it’s like a creative puzzle. The villanelle is tricky, because by the fourth stanza or so I feel like I’m really reaching for those rhymes, but it’s still fun. This form repeats the same two lines with only one other rhyming sound (A1 b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 A2). Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas, or Mad Girl’s Love Song by Sylvia Plath are exemplary of how powerful the form can be.

2016

Last year’s “new leaf” was a broken promise
folded by April, might have been May.
Here I am, the same five sweaters in my closet.

From then to now, twelve bucks in my pocket.
Yesterday’s commitments abandoned today,
and I was so confident I’d keep my promise.

Wasting my life away in an office,
My peers are fulfilled while I wait for Friday,
wearing the same shitty sweaters in my closet.

Cynical, yes, but it’s at least honest:
The scale hasn’t budged, a full ashtray…
enough evidence to refute my annual promise.

I fantasize what could be—solid, flawless—
But it’s a dream. Temporary. And I’ll wake
with scuffed shoes and pilled sweaters in my closet.

“New Year, New YOU” is an advertisement. Word vomit.
Self-reflection, decisiveness—that’s the language of change.
To 2016, I make no guarantee and offer no promise
Except to buy a new sweater for my closet.

Explore the villanelle and other forms, or just read some good poetry.