Certain Songs (A Villanelle) With Turnips


Certain Songs (A Villanelle)

There are certain songs most poets like to jive —
your true love swoons, pretty tunes of longing so,
but some rhymed hearts need rougher food to thrive–

They just can’t drink deep from a honied hive,
even buzz-fudget around ‘hey dilly-do’
(which is a certain song some…um… poets jive.)

They skip the main course, focus on the side,
sing odes to turnips (forget the tournedo)
for these rhymed hearts need rougher food to thrive.

Oh sexy blue jeans ‘cross the blue-smoke dive;
oh peeling rose; oh first grade talent show–
are certain songs most poets like.  But to jive

in harsh-of-day-job unjust world, abide
on uptown curb the homeless crusted toe
that’s sometimes rimed–  Hearts need rough to thrive,

survive.  Suffering plumbs throat with sharp salive,
an acid against those lumps that keep voice low
in certain songs.  Most poets like to jive,
but some rhymed hearts need rougher food to thrive.


Agh!  I am posting this draft villanelle to dVerse Poets Pub’s Form For All hosted by the wonderful Samuel Peralta.  The odd thing was that I am so worried about the election that I started this villanelle focusing on the line –  “Osama’s dead and GM is alive”–but somehow could never work it in.  Yes, I know.  I need to calm down!  (And also, I think all poets pretty much deal with rough emotions.) 

You can hear the poem below.  It’s not the greatest reading, but does help delineate the pauses. 

The villanelle is one of my favorite forms, mainly because it has a built-in music.  (And also because you don’t have to come up with so many lines!)  Check out dVerse for more.  If you are interested in other (perhaps more polished) ones of mine, click here.    Actually, the most fun one is probably an illustrated one I did as a children’s story called Villain-elle.  (With elephants.) 

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24 Comments on “Certain Songs (A Villanelle) With Turnips”

  1. you know..if the poet suffers in writing, then the reader may not suffer in reading…and that’s good…smiles…enjoyed your villanelle k. and i think there should be more odes sung to turnips..smiles

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha! I like turnips. It didn’t really turn out the way I thought originally, but it was fun to work on something new.

      Very good point re the suffering – although I think suffering does unstop the voice – the sight of it. k.

  2. hedgewitch Says:

    Again, compliments on your reading–helps me to focus as your words can skip in ballerina steps that I often am so busy watching for the grace I’m not grasping for the gist. I’m quite fond of turnips myself, even rutabegas. You are very natural and modern in this form, k. Went down smooth as milk, tingly as champagne(but not mixed together–ugh.)

  3. Clearly you have made a wonderful poetic home in this form. Through your familiarity and skill you’ve expanded what I understand the form can do. I agree with Joy, you are natural and modern.

  4. vivinfrance Says:

    I loved your reading of the poem – it made it come alive, caused your words to thrive!

  5. love the way the piece, through a well placed word and/or punctuation really amped up the musicality in the read. Excellent piece. thanks

  6. beckykilsby Says:

    I love this refrain K:

    but some rhymed hearts need rougher food to thrive.

    A concept worthy of a villanelle for sure and you trip through it with aplomb.

    Just wondering if you need ‘to’ before ‘jive’ in S5 – smoother without and don’t think it changes the meaning.. what do you think?

    Much enjoyed anyway, but intrigued now where you want Osama and GM to go..lol..?

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hi Becky – here was one thought that came to me later – but might be unpopular – you know I thought of basing a whole villanelle around the lines but I’m not actually someone that feels comfortable with the idea of celebrating death, even of arch enemy. (I’m not saying that it shouldn’t be done – I just find that kind of celebration unseemly in some way – the whole thing so sombre- but here’s an alternative last stanza or so.)

      But to jive
in harsh-of-day-job unjust world, abide
      on uptown curb the homeless crusted toe
      that’s sometimes rimed– Hearts need rough to thrive –

“Osama’s dead but GM is alive–”
      A sample line that would be a no-go
      for certain, in the songs some poets jive–
      but some rhymed hearts need rougher food to thrive.

  7. David King Says:

    I like this very much. It kept me on my toes with its unexpected solutions – as with:-
    that’s sometimes rimed– Hearts need rough to thrive,


    that’s sometimes rimed– Hearts need rough to thrive,

    survive. ery clever and very enjoyable.

  8. brian miller Says:

    ha, wicked villanelle k….i cant take the flowers and frills every day, i do need a diet of the other emotions…and i agree that for the reader to feel it the writing must first go there themselves, even if just mentally…nicely done to form and i really like your playing around with it as well…

  9. jcosmonewbery Says:

    Both the villanelle and the turnips were sliced and diced. Nice take on the prompt.

  10. Mary Says:

    I favor poems with ‘rougher food,’ though sometimes they are hard to live. They do help both the poet and the reader to thrive!

  11. Nice to see the form stretched and fingers crossed for the election!

  12. kkkkaty Says:

    It’s an emotional time…great way to express that with verve and humor!!

  13. janehewey Says:

    I will reiterate what Joy and Anna wrote… you are natural and modern in this form, taking the old edges and shining up the subject (vegetal and musical) matter. ” Hearts need rough to thrive” one of my favorite lines. Another, “oh peeling rose; oh first grade talent show-” Your enjoyed your reading. Your voice gave this poem a comprehensive feel.

  14. Gay Cannon Says:

    I didn’t glean politics but rough times yes and living rough as the Brits say came through loud and clear. I loved the music and modernity in it. All have been very musical today – one of the reasons I love this form so much..whether on the streets or defying the night. Lovely work, K.

  15. Oh! This is a draft? You had me at ‘turnip’! This is such a wonderful composition, with its melodious rhythm and its word-play. Thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable, thank you!

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hi Sam – well, whenever I’ve just just finished something, scrambled it together, it feels like a draft as I know, with more time, I might change things a bit. So hate to tie myself down, as it becomes harder to go back and edit if you think of something as finished. k.

  16. Susan Says:

    This sang itself to me–and then you sang it again. I think the variations make it stronger and even more playful (and, incidentally, true). Thanks for visiting my villanelle too–I think it has to come here and learn to dance from you!

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