Repetition Raises A Villanelle (“Shattering”)


This is another post inspired by dVerse Poets Pub, a really supportive website for online poets. The prompt this time concerned poems that deal in repetition. As followers of this blog know, I’m devoted to the villanelle, a poetic form that is based on repeating line sequences. This villanelle is part of a pair–its companion piece, “Burned Soldier” may be found here, as well as a discussion of how to write a villanelle. Both poems were inspired by the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Any thoughts or suggestions most welcome.


The shattering of lives should take some time.
It shouldn’t come in flashes, clods of dirt,
no moment for altered course, for change of mind.

The actual choice ahead should be well-signed–
pre-emptive smoke, perhaps a blood-soaked shirt–
the shattering of lives should take some time.

He knew that road was risky, heard a whine,
but in the end those warnings were too curt,
no moment for altered course, for change of mind.

Hard to foresee your own true body lined
with metal plates and plastic tubes of hurt;
the shattering of lives should take some time.

So many hours after to refine
what happened in that second’s blinding lurch,
no moment for altered course or change of mind.

Or was it fate? A studied path, not whim?
His heart tried hard to measure out the worth
of shattering lives. It would take some time,
with no moment for altering course or mind.

(All rights reserved.)

P.S. – I’ve posted a lot of villanelles, which is a favorite form for many years. I love the music- and yet, the repetition. They can be found by checking out that category from home page.

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22 Comments on “Repetition Raises A Villanelle (“Shattering”)”

  1. claudia Says: lives should be shattered at all…haunting war poem..and the villanelle is my no. 1 when it comes to form poetry as well..

  2. Beth Says:

    Villanelles are difficult to craft with smooth repetition. You’ve done so wonderfully. The nature of the form demands the repetition but to make the repetition blend takes talent. Wonderful.


  3. hedgewitch Says:

    This is a very well wrought villanelle, as is its companion piece-(Burned Soldier)-both really making excellent use of the form without being hogtied by it. It’s one of my favorite forms, also, in fact one of the first forms I ever attempted, and it’s plain you’ve spent a lot of time with it. These two have all the structuring effect of repetition, as well as the emotional impact, both used with grace

    All that aside, this is a fine poem on the insanity and personal damage of war. Thank you for speaking out.

  4. is this about someone caught in a IED event?

  5. brian Says:

    wow you blend in some rather nice intense imagery…the pre-emptive smoke and bloody shirt…the opening lines are hooker for sure to bring us in…i like and wellplayed to form…

  6. tashtoo Says:

    In my mind you have mastered the form than still haunts me! lol A haunting write, perfectly presented in this difficult form. Well done!

  7. Mary Says:

    Impressive. Yes, the shattering of lives should take some time. Sadly, sometimes it happens suddenly, no warning. I agree with others that you are a ‘master’ of the villanelle!

  8. Patricia Says:

    I’ve never tried a villanelle and I appreciate your how to commentary. This is such a vivid write and one that (as a visual learner) shows me such a wonderful example of this form.

  9. This has been on my mind a lot lately and I appreciate you calling attention to it here. Smooth and emotionally impactful, excellent work.

  10. I don’t see enough poems about this war (especially from me).

    The initial line is very strong, and I really like how you created its companion in the final verse. It only takes a moment to destroy these bodies but we all, in different ways and degrees, have to deal with the fallout for as long as we live.

  11. Laurie Kolp Says:

    I love how this villanelle reads with an uninterrupted, smooth flow. It works well with repitition, too. I especially like the last stanza.

  12. you repetition works so well with such a smooth and emotionally impact such excellent work you have done in this poem

  13. Brendan Says:

    I’ve commented elsewhere that it’s terrible that so much poetry misses exactly this, going deep inside a wound kept out of sight and exploring its exploding geography. Yeah, we all fall apart, but not in these infinite compressions of flash and burn; and then, to have the rest of one’s mangled life to consider and re-consider that one evaporating moment, as if in a sort of hell of memory .. terrible. The form perhaps allows enough distance to write into the devastation. Fine job. – Brendan

  14. Mama Zen Says:

    The refrain is brilliant. Really moving piece.

  15. jenneandrews Says:

    Explosively and implosively powerful poem. I lack the patience to write in forms generally– free verse to the bone. But this is truly masterful, moving. No way to dodge a bullet in these awful wars. xxxj

    • manicddaily Says:

      Thanks so much. I really enjoyed yours. I write free verse, but sometimes find it just too free! Too many decisions!

  16. Reflections Says:

    Powerful, yet distant to so many… a desire to serve, yet a second’s choice changes so much, not just for the one serving. You have captured such deep meanings in both this one and its companion piece. Great writing.

  17. you are so right that “The shattering of lives should take some time.”… it should. it should…
    a powerful write, sad, an important statement. I wish there were some in power that heard/read this…

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