In a Taxi from de Gaulle by Rick Mullin

In a Taxi from de Gaulle

This morning the plaster-white dome of Montmartre
presents to the highway a century’s grime.
It hemorrhages clouds from a cold Sacred Heart

to color the city of Ingres and Descartes
a boulevard gray. In the interest of time
this morning, the plaster-white dome of Montmartre

speaks not of its grand contribution to art,
but more of its neighborhood’s canvas of crime.
The hemorrhage of cloud from its cold Sacred Heart

calls forward the spirit of Camus and Sartre—
the pipe smoke that wanders and couplets that rhyme.
Of mourning, the plaster-white dome of Montmartre,

of man in the city and man set apart.
A neutralized palette of carbon and lime
is hemorrhaging clouds from the cold Sacred Heart

to vistas bequeathed by a third Bonaparte,
on steps of the Commune, the pilgrim, the mime.
This morning the plaster-white dome of Montmartre
bleeds into the clouds from a cold Sacred Heart.

Paris, October 3, 2010

by Rick Mullin

Editor’s Note: This villanelle escapes the usual recursive spiral of repetition with carefully chosen imagery.

We found an unexploded mine that day by Deirdre Parkes

We found an unexploded mine that day

We found an unexploded mine that day
and stared so much we let the ocean creep
to wet our feet before we ran away.

How would it be if courage let us stay
inside that story that wasn’t ours to keep?
We found an unexploded mine that day.

There was no one there to warn us, to say
how cold the water was, how deep.
We wet our feet before we ran away.

That debt of blood wasn’t ours to pay.
We should have been at home in bed, asleep.
We found an unexploded mine that day.

Older feet than ours were left in clay
like fossil footsteps, frozen in mid leap.
We wet our feet before we ran away.

The summer sky turned suddenly to grey.
The country lanes turned desolate and steep.
We found an unexploded mine that day
and wet our feet before we ran away.

by Deirdre Parkes

Editor’s Note: This villanelle uses repetition to chilling effect—the unexploded mine feels as if it is about to explode, or has already exploded (emotionally).

Me, Tarzan by Ed Shacklee

Me, Tarzan

The camera pans from jungle to the plain:
while credits roll, we watch the plane ascend.
Young Weissmuller as Tarzan. Who was Jane?

Our hero scans the skies through clouds of pain
for her he’d fought gorillas to defend;
then, misty-eyed, the jungle from the plain,

his leafy kingdom where with might and main
he’d finally won her heart at story’s end.
He’d told her. He was Tarzan. She was Jane,

his lovely leading lady – he, her swain,
half man, half child, half ape, as Burroughs penned,
yet now he’s in the jungle, not the plane.

We’d searched for signs of intellect, in vain;
in the buff, with Cheetah for a friend,
he’d known two words, “Me, Tarzan.” Still, Jane

hoped secretly some Greystoke might remain
and show up in a sequel round the bend.
In London’s social jungle she’d explain
the finer points of Tarzan dating Jane.

by Ed Shacklee

Ed on Facebook

Editor’s Note: I watched a lot of the Tarzan television show as a girl, and this poem calls to mind the sense of delight I felt about those stories. Also, the iambic lines and rhyme in this villanelle are delicious.

Abiding Winter by Risa Denenberg

Abiding Winter

How we made it through another winter
is not the question. It’s not even an answer
since one of us was left behind in winter.

In Spring, in buoyancy, you asked a question.
Cups stood their ground between us, tea and coffee.
You wished to be the answer to your question.

If winter comes again and yet another,
a darkling season full of melancholy. The yanking
of my soul back to its gutter, that other

place where questions have no answers,
and answers only placate. It takes rafters
of steadfast faith, or mettle, to seek answers.

Truth is brutal. So much we can’t recover,
years I’ve begged for you to wait for Spring to bloom,
living in despair beside each other, and another

stormy season while we tussle for an answer
that is a coda to the sum of all of life’s bother.
I’ve learned to hold my tongue, to question
nothing. Questions are another sort of winter.

by Risa Denenberg

Guest Editor’s Note: The sonics, especially the consonance, create a pleasing effect when we hear this one.  In no small part to the final line, this may be the best villanelle we’ll see this year.

Please welcome Guest Editor Earl Gray from March 20-March 24, 2017.

Midway Upon the Journey of My Life by Frank Mundo

Midway Upon the Journey of My Life
a villanelle

Although my life is only halfway through,
And age, with stealing steps, has shown its claws,
There’s still a lot of dying left to do.

Friends and family, those I look up to,
So many lost to universal laws,
Although my life is only halfway through.

Since life’s spent waiting, wasting in the queue
And no one can escape death’s dropping jaws
There’s still a lot of dying left to do.

Each year I outlive someone else I knew,
While more get dipped in blue and wrapped in gauze
Although my life is only halfway through.

If Time’s a bloody nightmare coming true,
And growing old’s a bloodbath without pause
There’s still a lot of dying left to do.

Another year, another dropping shoe,
Reminds me that I need to live because,
Although my life is only halfway through,
There’s still a lot of dying left to do.

by Frank Mundo

Editor’s Note: The villanelle form can easily twist itself into nonsense, but this poem uses the repeated lines and theme to emphasize the narrator’s ruminations with flair.