“Cautionary Tale” (Free or Trapped Villanelle?)

Cautionary Tale

“It’s hurting me,” she said in half belief
as her hair caught in his passing shirt cuff’s play.
He offered nothing else for her relief
except untangling fingers, smooth smile’s teeth
(his eyes flecked with intelligence and grey).

“It’s hurting me,” she said in half belief
about a life that had grown spare, deplete,
(and cast him as the knight to save the day.)
He offered nothing else if not relief–
opened doors ahead, used credit like a thief.

As he refused her pretended tries to pay,
“it’s hurting me,”  she said in half belief,
(but smiled inside at all that seemed in reach;)
her greater youth would certainly hold sway;
she offered nothing else for his relief.

Game over when he pinned her underneath.
His weight, his age, his wealth, would have their way.
“It’s hurting me,” she said in half belief.
(He offered nothing else for her relief.)


The above is posted for dVerse Poets’ Pub’s “form for all” challenge from Samuel Peralta (a/k/a Semaphore) to write a “free verse poem” in a formal verse form.  Yes, yes, it’s a villanelle.  Yes, mainly what I’ve done is mix up the spacing a bit.  But maybe, perhaps, because it’s a bit of a morality tale, it’s just possible that the repeated lines read a bit more freely and ironically than in a standard villanelle?  Or, are they too caught/entrapped?


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19 Comments on ““Cautionary Tale” (Free or Trapped Villanelle?)”

  1. hedgewitch Says:

    I’ve had no luck at all with this prompt, so kudos to you for making something of it. It reads pretty much like a villanelle to me, but one that’s been freed up considerably by change-arounds in the repetition. And the meter sort of spaces out at times…but whatever, it’s a twisty and perceptive piece, and successful I think. I like it, anyway. ;_)

  2. sonofwalt Says:

    I think it’s a fantastic adaptation. Well done, and very well received.

  3. Gay Says:

    WooHoo! Loved this – from the idea through the process to the creation – it’s all here to see and it’s no mean feat to pull this off. It feels liberated, about getting trapped, a villanelle that sounds like vers libre with rhyme, rhythm (I nearly wrote thyme) and form so sweet!

  4. David King Says:

    I hate trying to write Villanelles, but love reading them – nevertheless, I do think they can stand a lot of mixing up! Yours has come out of it very well indeed, so congrats, it couldn’t have been easy. VERY impressive indeed!

  5. brian miller Says:

    i felt pain in this…her feeling of being trapped and esp in that last stanza it made me so sad for her and fearful quite honest…ugh…nicely done on the swirl to the form…i have never written a vilanelle personally but i though even with the repetition it flowed really well in continuous thought…

  6. Chazinator Says:

    This has a great sound to it, and winds in and out of its soundscape very easily and hauntingly. I know she’s the one who’s trapped, but it sounds so soft and enticing that the knotting entanglement is subtle, though perhaps not less stifling.

  7. I can’t comment on the form, simply because I know little about form; but I can see it. I really like the story you tell with this one though. Sad, but real.
    I’m curious to see what you think of my entry. No form to it, just my typical “free rambling” (I can’t really say it’s verse), but a message of sorts in it.

  8. Very well depicted of her sadness with refraining line, “It’s hurting me,” she said in half belief. Lovely form though I haven’t tried this one yet, you told a story of their relationship ~

  9. shanyns Says:

    Oh you did this so well! Love it.

  10. claudia Says:

    oh heck…this feels def. trapped but flows beautifully like a villanelle and the repetition makes it all the more haunting

  11. Tinkerbell Says:

    My God. I was anxious from the first stanza, I felt so much pain with the last lines. So sad. So sad; her words didn’t matter to him.

    You’re writings express sadness in a realistic way; so human, so fragile, so haunting.


  12. jenneandrews Says:

    I love this– I think the form works well for you, because the lesson does bear repeating…. Not so articulate tonight, I’m afraid– write on~!xxxj

  13. Villanelle it is, indeed, but nevertheless… you shot an arrow, missed my (admittedly tough) mark, but it hit the bulls-eye of another target!

    I love the way the morality tale creates a tug-of-war of emotion throughout the piece with the various refrains; and I’m even enamoured of the way your parentheses move to encapsulate different phrases – while remaining in the same positional location in each stanza – as if providing a different emphasis in each aside. Bravo!

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks – I confess to adapting an older poem for the exercise. I really am in a very busy situation right now. I am going to try the exercise again when I get a bit more time. k.

  14. wow. this is fabulous (and perfectly titled.) brava.

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