Je suis la petite reine.

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” …

William Wilberfoce

I am the little Queen of Trianon,
my white skirts spread out wide beneath the trees,
and my white ewe-lamb, and my watering can.

In Delhi
a small boy wonders
what colour the sky might be

Leaving the city, this is where I come-
this place where flowers flutter in the breeze –
I am the little Queen of Trianon,

In Siberia
the oil reflects
unholy rainbows in the bay

and a white bonnet shields me from the sun,
white ribbons flutter. Here, I can unfreeze,
with my white ewe-lamb, and my watering can.

In Malaysia
a woman picks through
empty shampoo bottles, English words

When Paris starves, I can’t bear to dwell on
the pain, the suffering. Better that I leave
to be the little Queen in Trianon.

In Minneapolis
a white man kneels
upon a black man’s neck

Of course I care. But better to move on,
console myself with all of these beauties,
and my white ewe-lamb, and my watering can.

In the great Atlantic ocean
a whale swallows
one more plastic bag.

It’s all too sad to think of. Here, it’s gone,
here there’s green grass, and sweetly scented leaves.
I am the little Queen of Trianon,
with my white ewe-lamb, and my watering can.

This is a slight re-working of the villanelle I posted on dVerse’s tercet night last Thursday.  I think the Wilberforce quotation sums it up better than I can. We are outsourcing our rubbish to the developing world. We pat ourselves on the back for recycling so much (47% of recyclable waste is recycled in the UK, 28% in the US), but don’t really enquire what happens to it after that. Most recycling is done in the developing world, and it’s a lot less efficient than we tell ourselves.

This is for Earthweal, where we stand witness.

Marie-Antoinette, c’est moi

I am the little Queen of Trianon,
my white skirts spread out wide beneath the trees,
and my white ewe-lamb, and my watering can.

Leaving the city, this is where I come-
this place where flowers flutter in the breeze –
I am the little Queen of Trianon,

and a white bonnet shields me from the sun,
white ribbons flutter. Here, I can unfreeze,
with my white ewe-lamb, and my watering can.

When Paris starves, I can’t bear to dwell on
the pain, the suffering. Better that I leave
to be the little Queen in Trianon.

Of course I care. But better to move on,
console myself with all of these beauties,
and my white ewe-lamb, and my watering can.

It’s all too sad to think of. Here, it’s gone,
here there’s green grass, and sweetly scented leaves.
I am the little Queen of Trianon,
with my white ewe-lamb, and my watering can.

I can never resist a villanelle! Frank is hosting at dVerse, and asking us to write in tercets. He’s allowing a villanelle, as it’s almost all triplets, but other forms are allowed.

If you don’t know, Trianon was the palace where Marie-Antoinette went to enjoy rural pleasures and play at being a milkmaid or a shepherdess. Think of those little shepherdess china figurines.

I think I’m feeling a little guilty about living in a beautiful place, watering my plants, and hearing that the world is burning around me.

High road sky road – poem for dVerse

Following the sky-road,
rook goes his own way
the heaven-circling high road –

grave-groping, muffle-toed,
sloe-black flight feathers splayed,
following the sky-road –

lark-light brings early glow,
rook wakes himself to take
the heaven-circling high road.

I hear his dark-vowelled tones
come from the ash all day,
marking the sky-road,

owl-light comes, purpling slow,
rook still has time to play
on heaven-circling high roads;

evening mists roll, moon blown,
rook hides his head away,
dreams of the sky-road,
the heaven-circling high road.

A villanelle for Laura’s beautiful prompt over at dVerse. We are inspired by Dylan Thomas and his love of words.

Sea craving – villanelle III for dVerse

Some of us live knowing we may drown,
yet something in us cannot keep away:
we’re still in thrall to the sea’s wild sound.

We walk a tightrope. Risk is all around,
we know fear, but we cannot feel afraid –
some of us live knowing we may drown

at the world’s edge, where the dark waves pound.
As the last light fades into soft grey,
we’re still in thrall to the sea’s wild sound.

Days when the sand is sugar brown,
and the lace-edged wavelets sweetly play,
some of us live, knowing we may drown

and when the storm is raging all around
and waves crash in and roll and roar away,
we’re still in thrall to the sea’s wild sound.

You’ll know us. We are restless in the town.
We itch to leave, take the sea-road away –
some of us live knowing we may drown,
yet still in thrall to the sea’s wild sound.

Oh, but I love a villanelle. This is my third for dVerse, where it’s our “form for all” this month.

The wildness of the heart – villanelle for dVerse II

Let’s seek some comfort, you and I:
here the bright flames dance in the grate;
there the white stars are cold and high,

small thing pause at the fox’s cry,
they shiver, and they hesitate;
let’s seek some comfort, you and I.

The barn owl now swoops silent by
the lane end, and the sagging gate,
there the white stars are cold and high,

but here is wine, dark as a sigh,
and a warm place to contemplate –
let’s seek some comfort, you and I.

We are sheltered from the wild
by the walls that we create –
there the white stars are cold and high,

and the moon calls from the night sky,
and out there, adventures wait,
so let’s seek comfort, you and I,
where the white stars are cold and high.

One of the advantages of hosting for dVerse is that you know what prompt you’re doing, and have a chance to get a head start on everyone else. Here’s a villanelle for this month’s form exploration.

My Art – villanelle for dVerse. I

At 21 I thought I’d learned that art –
of losing. God, I was a fool.
What had I lost? A sliver of my heart.

I had the knack of holding just apart,
raising an eyebrow, looking pretty cool:
at 21, I thought I’d learned that art –

sometimes I thought that things would never start –
that life, and men, and love, were simply cruel.
What had I lost? A sliver of my heart.

“The art of losing” seemed to be a part
of my life – I lost keys and lovers, too –
at 21, I thought I’d learned that art –

but things that slipped and slid and fell apart
were nothingmuch. A moment’s pang, or two:
what had I lost? A sliver of my heart?

I learned that gaining sits at losing’s heart –
we grow through losing things, it’s true –
at 21 I thought I’d learned that art:
what had I lost? A sliver of my heart.

I’m hosting the “Form for all ” prompt at dVerse this month. We are working on our villanelles – such a beautiful form. This is my tribute to Elizabeth Bishop’s famous “One Art”.

My technique for writing a villanelle is fairly simple. I find a killer couplet, and then jot down a list of rhyming words for that. Then I write the first verse, and jot down a list of rhyming words for my middle line. Then I let the rhymes lead me – it’s almost a meditative process. You have to be careful about your key words though. Don’t choose something like “scissors” as one of your key rhyming words.

Please join us, and share your villanelling this month.

Once upon a – poem for dVerse

Once upon a diamond night
Music tumbled from these halls,
Stars hung like candles, clear and bright

Hands reach out and feet take flight,
Lovers join within these walls,
Once upon a diamond night

Her face is dazzling to his sight,
And as he gazes, he recalls
Stars hung like candles, clear and bright.

Mirrors reflect the dancing lights,
The to and fro that never palls,
Once upon a diamond night

She turns to flee as midnight strikes –
On the step her slipper falls,
Stars hang like candles, clear and bright

Now he searches day and night
For one who’ll answer when he calls,
Come dancing through the diamond night,
and stars like candles, clear and bright.

 

With a prompt like that, I couldn’t resist a little fairytale romance, and a villanelle seemed to fit. All our poems must start with “Once upon a…” – Lillian is prompting at dVerse tonight.

Polite – villanelle – poem for dVerse

I cannot see the kindness in your life,
yet I can’t say I’ve ever known you rude:
you wield politeness like a little knife.

I’ve sat through dinners without any strife,
the wine’s flowed freely, and you’ve served good food,
but I can’t see the kindness in your life.

I’ve watched you undermine your darling wife,
and mention things no husband ever should:
you wield politeness like a little knife.

You shake your head, and wince at modern life,
and hanker after times that weren’t so crude,
but I can’t see the kindness in your life

You say you hate the brashness that’s so rife,
yet somehow you afflict us with your mood:
you wield politeness like a little knife

Your jokes are sharper than a surgeon’s knife,
you’re confident, and yet I think that you’ve
not known of any kindness in your life;
you wield politeness like a little knife.

 

 

More repetition for Jilly at dVerse. A Villanelle this time. 

The body as a state of union – NaPoWriMo 11

I have to admit, I got nothing from this prompt. However, I was determined to do it, so I turned to the trusty old Villanelle, thinking that some intense structure would help. It did. Now that I’ve done this, I’m wondering if I’ll suddenly get some inspiration for a stunning poem about my body as a nation state. If I do, I’ll let you know. Having said that, I guess inspiration is inspiration, wherever it comes from – even if it ends up being anti-inspiration.

I am an entity within my skin.
How often do I see myself that way?
Where do I end? Where does the world begin?

I’m blood, and flesh, and bones, and soul, built in
To something more than just the living clay:
I am an entity within my skin.

And yet, it feels like me, this scribbling pen,
Noting down all those words I wish to say –
Where do I end? Where does the world begin?

I guess it all depends on my instinct-
What’s me, what is kept close or pushed away –
I am an entity within my skin

Yet something physical is the linchpin,
My parts consider, conference, convey
Where my self ends, and where the world begins.

I’m not a team that’s setting out to win,
I’m like a  cast, that improvised a play,
Am I an entity within my skin?
Where do I end? Where does the world begin?

November Yeats #13

‘Away, come away:
Empty your heart of its mortal dream.’ 
‘The Hosting of the Sidhe’ by W.B. Yeats.

Leave aside your mortal dreams
And step into their world of night,
Nothing is quite as it seems

On the terrace, peacocks scream
And show themselves for your delight,
Leave aside your mortal dreams,

In the hall, they primp and preen,
Display their beauties to your sight,
Nothing is quite as it seems.

Dance with shadow kings and queens,
Draped in dark robes of midnight,
Leave aside your mortal dreams.

Gorge yourself on chocolate creams,
Whipped from kisses and moonlight –
Nothing is quite as it seems –

But beware their tangled schemes,
And their smiles – a touch too bright? –
Leave aside your mortal dreams:
Nothing is quite as it seems.

A Villanelle today, inspired by Jane, and her good friend W B Yeats. The Sidhe are tricky folk, full of glamour and illusion. Best not to trust them.