Approaching the Villanelle… Cautiously…

Of late I’ve had encouragement to explore darker and more personal expression through poetry, sculpture and general corporeality; the results haven’t been the, so to speak, easiest for me to come across.

We are here to, as Brené Brown puts it in her talk on vulnerability, connect with each other. What else is there for us besides this, ultimately?

I’m reminded of the last stanza in the Herman Hesse poem, “Late in the Night…”

Grieving over a wasted life,
scraping the pits of memory,
taking my only comfort from the thought
that, forced to live, we’ll have the luck to die.

Of course it is not unusual for me or any other artist to have had, or presently hold, the insatiable ability and drive to relate to that sentiment and wish, consequentially, to “take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing: end them. To die…

The openness I have been utilizing in my recent explorations of poetry has brought me to a very shadowy place; one year ago, this month, I had a medication error that drove me to psychiatrically dangerous places that did physical damage to me and emotional damage to my loved ones…

Briefly, an accident when I was a teenager caused a broken clavicle and whiplash to my spine; physically growing from then and into my twenties it was apparent that my spine was having difficulty remaining where it should. At the end of my twenties the constant spinal pain, numbness, tingling, loss of mobility etc. became unbearable, I took to seeing many neurosurgeons, physical therapists, yogis, chiropractors and pain specialists.

I found great relief in Vicodin and soon thereafter, physical therapy which indeed did save my life from what seemed to most likely be painful until I would, “have the luck to die.

It was last year, September, October and November where my doctor had decided to try me on a steroid in hopes to reduce the inflammation in my thoracic spine; the damaged discs were too close to the spinal cord and they were unwilling to inject the steroid into the area as a result. I was given two courses of a steroid called, “methylprednisolone,” and, as it turns out, “roid-rage,” is a very real and terrifying thing.

Throughout these few months I channelled a lot of my disgust and anger into a set of poems written as suicide notes. Had I had any real intentions I’m not really certain, but I did, when my memory and thinking became clear again, find about 7 poems numbered as, “Suicide Poem 1-7.”

And now, having said encouragement regarding openness even if it is darkness, I have decided to tackle a poetic form I’ve long since loved with the content of one of those poems.

It was numbered as, “Suicide Poem #6: Remember Me as a Time of Day,” and was fairly lengthy; I cut it down to a decent size and, after a lifetime of failed attempts, feel I have written a successful villanelle. This is poetry in its most therapeutic sense…

The title, and one of the rhyming lines, comes from the song that played endlessly on repeat for  hours and days at a time. I’m certain it did contribute to my mood greatly. Play the song while you are reading the poem – it will easily set the mood right.

“Remember Me as a Time of Day.”

Remember me as a time of day
as heartless, vain and as appalling
while, prostrate, I to forgiveness pray,

forget not that fire; whom I betray.
At autumn’s frost, as leaves are falling,
remember me as a time of day.

Remember me through April and May
and through my haunting mother’s bawling
while, prostrate, I to forgiveness pray,

“forgive the dreams I’ve led astray.”
And when nostalgic grief is calling –
remember me as a time of day.

Remember the worst that I portray
through lust, through spite and senseless brawling –
while, prostrate, I to forgiveness pray,

“live not this life another day
and slay those ceaseless voices galling;
remember me as a time of day
while, prostrate, I to forgiveness pray.”

 

 

Post thought…

 

It occurred to me just now, while walking the pug, that the success of a villanelle rests in the repetitive lines being statements, requests (remember me as a time of day) or demands (do not go gentle into that good night). I am now forced to think how repeating questions would function in a villanelle.

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2 thoughts on “Approaching the Villanelle… Cautiously…”

  1. How long have you been writing poetry? Did you do any formal studies in the subject? Your writing is so incredibly immaculate! Also, I like the lead in before the poem. I am trying to get better at the of my personalizing of my entries. I’ve had the blog for over a year but only just recently have become more diligent about it. Your blog is a great read for inspiration while I learn. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. I have been working with poetry since I was a teenager; I always enjoyed puzzles and poetry forms were just that for me.

      No really formal studies. I spent a lot of time under David Brinks at the, so called, “New Orleans School for the Imagination,” (http://17poets.com/home.html).

      I went to college for literature and American Sign Language.

      My friends growing up were all as interested as I was and we all, weekly, gathered for years and workshopped by ourselves.

      I’m glad I can pass of some inspiration! I look forward to corresponding more!

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