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Villanelle Lover

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2015-08-04 19.24.00

The key to a good villanelle is to come up with two lines that are genuinely attracted to each other but also wholly independent of each other, so that their final coupling will feel both inevitable and surprising.

Annie Finch, in introduction to Villanelles

I smiled when I read that. And before reading further, I paused to launch this blog post.

I thought of how I’ve heard it said that a good villanelle is like a great romance. So as I transcribed Finch’s words, I heard her sentence in my head with substitutions for two words: “The key to a good romance is to come up with two lovers that are genuinely attracted to each other but also wholly independent of each other, so that their final coupling will feel both inevitable and surprising.”

Romancing the Villanelle . . .

Written by macheide

4 August 2015 at 8:12 pm

The Boardinghouse Madrigals

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In our community drama group’s recent production of The Boardinghouse, I acted the role of Mr. Richards, a would-be novelist who becomes a would-be poet who then transforms into a would-be writer of political speeches. Always fashioning himself as a “creative artist.”

The perfect role for me to play, since the play’s Mr. Richards is such an abject failure at it. To play that part, I don’t even need to pretend very hard.

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Written by macheide

11 November 2014 at 5:46 pm

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Quinoa and Black Beans

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Nothing’s no fun when what one says the other means,
by any words they’d choose tasting just as good
as how we go together, like quinoa and black beans.

Hope’s not sold at the market. Whatever the scenes
we’re given to play, don’t we have fun as we should?
Nothing’s no fun when what one says the other means.

As essential as protein are you! Were all cuisines
as super at what they do, go down easy they could
as how we go together, like quinoa and black beans.

One’s not truly tried things one thinks of as in betweens
the real things one cooks up for what’d be if one would.
Nothing’s no fun when what one says the other means

A ham sloppy joe, please. Or two BMT submarines.
Or what goes with catsup’s as near my neighborhood
as how we go together, like quinoa and black beans.

Seconds, dear. Let no love go lost in humdrum routines
where despair’s the menu and appetite’s misunderstood.
Nothing’s no fun when what one says the other means
as how we go together, like quinoa and black beans.

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Written by macheide

5 October 2014 at 9:56 pm

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Rode Hard

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Not exactly the country & western standard I imagined to be playing in the background. But hand me an acoustic guitar and a harmonica, and a presentable folk lament might be made of this. Which I’ll dedicate to a former employer that remains addicted to sucking off the fruits of what I created for them, they with no more a shrug than any ignorant rider would give a discarded horse.
Rode Hard

Five hundred miles of the most sinfully bad
road my tired eyes have ever had
to go by on how rough a run can get –
Rode hard and put up wet.

Mourning the strange disappearance of an old
friend for whom the fire’s gone cold
before it’s out of memories to forget –
Rode hard and put up wet.

You’ll get what you got from me out of no other mount
(and doing me again just as mean, that wouldn’t count).

At an unreachable distance gone fast asleep
is the laughter of company I used to keep.
Soon I’ll be home, just not as yet –
Rode hard and put up wet.

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Written by macheide

23 February 2009 at 5:10 pm

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No Thanks to Banks

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Don’t give another bailout to those failing banks.
Buddy, don’t spare them a dime from the poor taxpayer.
Rage! When they come around begging, rage, “No thanks!”
 
The economy’s engine could do with a few fiscal cranks,
but the piles of systemic risk don’t need a new layer.
Don’t give another bailout to those failing banks.
 
They get their bonus; you get to cover their flanks;
in the blame game this makes you their most valuable player.
Rage! When they come around begging, rage, “No thanks!”
 
Feds, put a stop to financiers’ credit swap pranks!
“Too big to fail”? – Be the public’s dragon slayer.
Don’t give another bailout to those failing banks.
 
They want drawn on the U.S. Treasury a checkbook of blanks
payable to Wall Street, the free market’s greatest betrayer.
Rage! When they come around begging, rage, “No thanks!”
 
The tarp only covered up ripped-off consumer angst –
When sold a bill of goods, one should bill the purveyor.
Don’t give another bailout to those failing banks.
Rage! When they come around begging, rage, “No thanks!”

 
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Written by macheide

11 February 2009 at 3:07 pm

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The Doldrum Blues

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Repeatedly beating myself at solitaire
as though silent standstill were my natural state,
tapping gray ash from an imaginary cigar
while memorizing excuses later to recite,
boulevard traffic smearing off into a blur,
with a fatal flaw I’m not wanting to admit –
 
Before I’ve opened my mouth, it’s time to quit!
The moment’s moved away: I can’t say where
or how it went. Must one always incur
his god’s own demolition to create
a lump of coal black enough to ignite
one spark that might be mistaken for a star?
 
Perhaps I’ve gone too fast, too deep, too far.
Rewind the tape to my own origin with it,
back to when its plain ideal felt bright,
just maybe I might feel its breath back there,
some inner voice, that proverbial innate
muse or any spook remotely resembling her.
 
The damn thing’s sitting there, it doesn’t stir,
as if waiting on me to move first. Bizarre!
I ought to make up something else as bait,
some artifact devoid of charm or wit,
a drain to drain my head, a mental snare,
a hawk to catch this little bird mid-flight.
 
Its whisper’s mute, too subtle for me to write!
To poets and artists more gifted I defer,
or even to those less gifted, I don’t care.
My score on it’s more nonplussed than subpar –
a drag of foreign smoke by English lit,
amused reflections hardly second-rate.
 
I’ve tried too hard too late to set it straight
or acted too polite to give it fight.
I bit, I hit, I spit – it still won’t fit.
No thank you, sir, this ain’t what I prefer.
     (Insert a bar for bass guitar
     plus any flair your hand can spare.)
 
So I head back to wait where my thoughts were
there in plain sight where other people are,
nowhere to sit, nothing at which to stare.

 
reading
 
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Written by macheide

3 February 2009 at 11:14 pm

Posted in last but not least

Light Exercise

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My writing’s working out. Forget about dinner.
If put on hold, my poem might lose its bite,
like me. (Excuses don’t come any thinner.)
 
It’s not as though I’m just some raw beginner
who’s better off to eat well than to write.
My writing’s working out. Forget about dinner
 
until I’m done. What diligent webspinner
spins half its web then shuts down for the night?
Like me, excuses don’t come any thinner
 
than, “To the muse’s spoils belongs the winner,”
though I’d spoil what’s for dinner out of spite.
My writing’s working out. Forget about dinner.
 
Forgive the flat tastes fit this starving sinner,
but what goes on my tongue, be it delight
like me. (Excuses don’t come any thinner.)
 
I crave a savory beauty cooked up inner –
Such hunger doesn’t whet one’s appetite.
My writing’s working out. Forget about dinner
(like me). Excuses don’t come any thinner.

 
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Written by macheide

31 January 2009 at 7:57 am

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Cataclysmal Futurity

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Retirement date prospects look dismal
what with market returns so abysmal.
        At least Social Security
        vests its perpetuity
in a public trust less paroxysmal.

 
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Written by macheide

5 January 2009 at 3:55 pm

Posted in last but not least

Not My Day Job

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  From the humorously astronomical
to the amusingly economical,
        the punch lines I’m after
        will earn me no laughter—
Actuaries just aren’t all that comical.
   
   
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Written by macheide

3 March 2008 at 5:22 pm

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New Wind

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  The simplest words were all I ever had,
and none of those enough to stir light sleep
nor worth the breath to memorize or keep,
just shadows of a breeze obscenely clad.

Yet isn’t any wind recycled waste
left over from what failed to leave debris?
It rambles on like dim cacophony,
like holes at random carelessly replaced.

A second wind blows in up from the south
in urgent prelude to the coming storm,
its warnings rushing hard against my walls.

Like cyclones from my heart that reach my mouth,
my thoughts evaporate before they form
the whispered echo ancient dream recalls.

   
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Written by macheide

2 March 2008 at 9:35 pm

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Booted

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“The risks to this outlook remain to the downside.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke (27 feb 2008)

Kaboom! Kicked out of bed! Dumped on the floor!
Then all she said’s, “You know the reason why.”
I don’t get why. I only get what for.

The left side? or the right? Mine’s neither nor:
The downside’s where my head will have to lie.
Kaboom! Kicked out of bed! Dumped on the floor!

I must have ticked her off – She’s rather sore,
as deeply red as sunrise in the sky.
I don’t get why. I only get what for.

In case there’s anybody keeping score,
don’t be misled: my ass can really fly!
Kaboom! Kicked out of bed! Dumped on the floor!

Another kick might fly me through the door
with not one shred of hope before my eye.
I don’t get why. I only get what for.

I would have liked to sleep an hour more
or maybe two. Instead, sweet dreams, goodbye!
Kaboom! Kicked out of bed! Dumped on the floor!
I don’t get why. I only get what for.

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Written by macheide

29 February 2008 at 9:58 pm

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back in circulation

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here then, some more scrappy words
for plastering the quiet little holes,
the shadows that bite on their tongues.

each sound falls on its own weight
dropping hints of rain come morning:
the one who would’ve noticed is not here.

one eye kept open watching, watching;
the hurt of it will not be heard for long:
this is a night that doesn’t come in pairs.

changes carry like cold steel against itself.
don’t look for any scratch marks left:
there’s one last whisper of her, just so.

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Written by macheide

29 December 2000 at 9:10 pm

Posted in last but not least

Apprentice’s Practice

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Secret powers once sermonized, then lost
To cryptic curse, an incantation s death,
Cast ice across the shadow of your ghost.

My own foul breath speaks malisons beneath
Chapped lips half-closed, not to be overheard
through clicking teeth; my incoherent tongue
Preserves the word in crystals on your beard.

When I was young, I studied your technique,
Your once-endeared rapt prot g who found
That private weakness in your alchemy,
Deep underground your only open wound.

Now all you ll see will be a vacant sky,
Parchment ruined by the folds of discipline,
My cold defiance on its face tattooed.

Your former lineage thins this scented wine,
The last imprudence of my maidenhood,
A draught now mine, and schemes to pass the hours
With moves that could have just as well been yours.

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Written by macheide

28 January 1997 at 2:00 am

Posted in last but not least

Vu Jade

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I’ll say this once, repeat myself no more:
“I said I would return, and then I said,
`Hey wait, I’ve never been this way before.'”

I’m new here. Tell me, what’s the echo for?
Some vain belief one’s poetry gets read?
So read it once, repeat yourself no more.

Condemned to chance the maze forevermore,
The bat does mischief to the path charted.
But me, I’ve never been in here before.

Come again? You wish some old encore?
Don’t give me grief. I’ll make this up instead.
Let’s play it once, repeat ourselves no more.

The old, they fear to see a sign. So poor
Fools they, too brief the flash of lives they led,
As though they’ve never been like this before.

My first villanelle! Who could ask for more?
What strange relief to get it through my head!
I’ll try anything once, repeat myself no more;
I know I’ve never been this way before.

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Written by macheide

8 January 1997 at 2:00 am

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