Week 8: Villanelle (The Poems!)

Here are the poems from Project Verse ~ Week 8: Villanelle.

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KRISTEN MCHENRY
The Menfolk Whisper of The Gulabi Gang

“They wear pink saris and go after corrupt
officials and boorish men with sticks and axes.”
Soutik Biswas; BBC News, Banda

Why do our good women gather in a fuchsia crush,
to bow their heads, but not to pray?
A tribe of flamingos in rags of blush,

they’re hoarding stones from the filthy dray.
I hear they are hungry in a bottomless way.
Our good women gather in a muffled crush;

they have nurtured us with that same pink hush.
Now their lullabies seethe with a cryptic sway.
A cloud of flamingos in rags of blush,

they shroud their rifles in the underbrush.
I’ve heard it told: one night they may
gather our daughters in a fuchsia crush

and baptize them in the river’s rush–
Banda wives wading in the moon’s crimped ray;
a rage of flamingos in rags of blush.

I’ve heard they grow fervent, lithe and lush,
their hair unruly as the grass owl’s bray.
Why do our good women gather in a fuchsia crush,
a tribe of flamingos in rags of blush?

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EMILY VAN DUYNE
The Lacrymosa, Washing the Dishes: Wednesday Night in Wartime America

‘Mozart’s Requiem begins with you walking towards a huge pit…’
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp-Zadie Smith

Those can’t be my hands in the sink! Expunge the crass
dried blood of this night’s wine, strewn
in the glass. That can’t be my face, cast

in the window—lonely woman, eyes like the Black Mass…
kyrie eleision, now scrub those pots & spoons…
expunge the crass sink. Those can’t be my hands that blast

the grease of fat & bone, latticed like the past…
and why should you have this life, this boon…
That face in the glass? It can’t be her place to cast

aspersions to the night’s eclipse, the sweet, dark grass,
another person, far away, who seeks the same hidden moon?
Those can’t be my cries! They sink in the crass

face of history: slouching beasts, dead stars… the last
shall be first, penance is like ashes— no one is immune…

That can’t be my face in the window: bloody glass

house we’ve assembled and hewn.
The pit is ever closer, surely you come soon,
surely: those must be my hands that sink in the fast
cast of water. That must be my face in the glass.

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W.F. ROBY
Through the Gauze of Heroin Hydrochloride

I took to the drug like a baby
takes to incidents of peas. A bore
we tapped out grain by grain, all tingly.

In the distant city, two birdies
lined up their beaks and poked at the core.
I took to the drug like a baby.

Dope on my desk, brown and crumbly
as steel and ash on the city’s floor.
We tapped out grain by grain, all tingly.

The news so graceful, silver latchkey
on my neck, the stash drawer
open to the drug like a baby,

like a fly to a glass of sherry.
New York fell, I was a sophomore.
We tapped out grain by grain, all tingly —

a needle’s difficult to bury.
Let’s watch smoke cover up the seashore.
I took to the drug like a baby.
We tapped out grain by grain, all tingly.

*************************************************

KATHI MORRISON-TAYLOR
Gretel Copes

Repression’s underrated. She’ll forget
her cookie-house binge with M&M trim, licorice whip pitch;
the scent of burning witch and cloves and chicken shit

all run together. She’ll always hate chocolate,
is rumored to huff Easy Off and do witch
impressions badly. She’ll forget

to watch Hansel on Letterman: instead, flit
from club to club to Daddy’s house. A hazel switch,
the reek of burning witch and cloves and kitschy shit—

grief after grief, it stings her. Damn it.
Damn the greedy crumb-eaters. Damn the itch
of repression, too slow. She’ll forget

her chubby brother behind barbed wire, but she’ll spit
at old ladies with gumdrop smiles. Anorexic bitch,
motherless witch, smokes cloves, shoots the shit—

that tabloid-Gretel: famous, wrecked, unfit
as a Nazi, murder charge dropped, filthy rich. . .
Repression’s underrated. She can’t forget
the scent of burning witch and cloves and chicken shit.

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2 responses to “Week 8: Villanelle (The Poems!)

  1. Emily —

    "this night’s wine, strewn
    in the glass. That can’t be my face, cast

    in the window—lonely woman, eyes like the Black Mass…
    kyrie eleision, now scrub those pots & spoons…
    expunge the crass sink. Those can’t be my hands that blast

    the grease of fat & bone"

    is totally delicious.

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