Taking ship when the grey gulls call

This is for Ingrid’s EIF challenge. It’s a long time since I wrote a villanelle. Now I remember why…

Taking ship when the grey gulls call

With all the many things still left to do,
Before the night falls, bringing final dreams,
And the ship to take us where the grey gulls flew,

I let the seconds diamond-drip like dew.
Words wait, ink-dry, to fill white paper, reams,
With all the many things left still to do.

We planted roses, thought that when they grew,
Their blooms would fill the house’s cracking seams,
And the ship to take us where the grey gulls flew,

But their boughs are frail, and the changing hue
Of rainbows fading shows how water teems
With all the many things left still to do.

I’d memorise the thrush’s song, build blue-
Skied worlds with sunset words and golden beams,
And the ship to take us where the grey gulls flew,

For there is no time to start the world anew,
Nor chase the river where the far sea gleams,
With all the many things left still to do.

The balance tips, desires, plans askew;
We fill our hands with memories and streams
Of all the many things left still to do,
Before the ship takes us where grey gulls flew.

Waiting

I put my mind to it and did write a villanelle for the dverse prompt, though without having recourse to slant rhymes. True rhymes are quite difficult enough.

 

This waiting is like death that creeps so slow.

When anguish settles too deep to displace

The hardest part is fearing, not to know.

 

I keep the lamps lit, sit in firelight’s glow,

Stare into flames, and though they grow apace,

This waiting is like death that creeps so slow.

 

When midnight chimes, the fire’s burning low

And I should sleep, but dare not leave my place—

The hardest part is fearing, not to know.

 

Whatever keeps you, you would let it go

If you could hear my heart, its frantic race;

This waiting is like death that creeps so slow.

 

There’s nothing I own that I’d not bestow

To have you safe, held in my arms’ embrace,

The hardest part is fearing, not to know.

 

Like standing by the sea, watching tides flow,

Straining to see a sail through spindrift’s lace,

Is this deathly waiting, killing me so slow,

And the hardest part is fearing what I know.

All the nightmares came today

Friday’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to write a villanelle incorporating lines from two songs. This is the second one I wrote, a more fun poem. Dverse is also running a month of villanelles, so I’m in the mood.

 

The song says, all the nightmares came today,

I see them strolling up and down the street,

It really looks as though they’re here to stay.

 

They gave us five years, that was all they’d say,

Until the end of days would be complete.

The song says, all the nightmares came today.

 

Their eyes are glazed; I wish they’d go away,

These phantoms, with their smell of rotting meat,

It really looks as though they’re here to stay.

 

Once so full of colour, now it’s grey,

This world that’s ending, in its winding sheet,

The song says. All the nightmares came today.

 

The speakers blare, the only song they play

A death march that accepts final defeat.

It really looks as though they’re here to stay.

 

Despair is king, it holds all in its sway,

No music soothes us with a gentle beat,

For screaming dirges, nightmares came today,

And there’s no doubt, they’re really here to stay.

Once we were lovers

The NaPoWriMo prompt is based on the association of the villanelle with two lines taken from songs.

Posting in the dverse villanelle collection until/if I can/can’t come up with a new one.

 

Once we were lovers; can they understand

That some things just finish, were not meant to last?

I never could bear now the touch of your hand.

 

On this dark cliff’s edge, beneath us the strand,

The wild waves and wild winds show us the past;

Once we were lovers, can they understand?

 

It should have worked out; we had it all planned,

Dreams fade of over-the-rainbow so fast.

I never could bear now, the touch of your hand.

 

Ahead is a jumble of futures as bland

As heaps of dead stars; yet the sky was so vast

Once. We were lovers; can they understand?

 

Chasing the bright lights, we followed the band,

Small things like happiness simply outclassed,

I never could bear now the touch of your hand.

 

Tide swept away what we wrote in the sand

About love, forever, how life was a blast,

But once we were lovers. Can they understand,

Why I never could bear now the touch of your hand?

When the swans have flown

I don’t think I’m up to writing a villanelle this evening, so I’m trotting out an old one instead for the dverse prompt.

 

Gales fill the sky with clouds, snuff out the light—

While shadows scud across the hills so dour,

We hold our breath as daylight dims to night.

 

Among the trees, rain patters, brief respite

Before your anger bursts, your storm brows glower,

Gales fill the sky with clouds. Snuff out the light!

 

Oppressive silence fills the air—despite

The falling rain, the taste of it is sour;

We hold our breath as daylight dims to night.

 

Like paper, blossom’s torn, the sky’s alight

With red-tinged petals, blown the rose’s flower;

Gales fill the sky with clouds, snuff out the light.

 

So feeble our love seems, so pale and white,

Flame-red when passion had us in its power,

We hold our breath as daylight dims to night.

 

When did the swans we were sigh and take flight,

To leave us empty-eyed beneath this bower?

Now storm-tossed clouds snuff out the summer light,

Not hands, but breath we hold as falls the night.

The silence in the woods

I have always hated handicrafts, anything that involves cutting and sewing, weaving, pasting or pinning. So my eyes glazed over before I even got to the end of the instructions for today’s NaPoWriMo prompt. However, much simpler, is to find inspiration in a line from someone else’s poem. I often pinch favourite lines and let the words work their magic. In this villanelle I’ve taken the last two lines from a favourite poem of mine, The Listeners by Walter de la Mare:

“And how the silence surged softly backward

When the plunging hoofs were gone.”

 

There was silence in the woods beneath the trees

Where the ferny grasses bent beneath my tread;

No birds sang in my presence, ill at ease.

 

I listened for the voices in the breeze,

To tell me I had misheard what you said—

There was silence in the woods beneath the trees.

 

I saw no movement, feathered flight that flees,

In the blue arched high above my head;

No birds sang in my presence, ill at ease.

 

I stopped, breath held, drank silence to the lees,

Hoping in these dreams about me spread;

There was silence in the woods beneath the trees.

 

Beyond the quiet, sounds of life, a tease,

Even stream-murmur filled me with dread,

No birds sang in my presence, ill at ease.

 

You will not come, I know I was misled,

You kept my dreams, my heart’s blood all is bled,

Only silence laughs here, dark the trees,

No song will this deep sorrow ever ease.

Lost swans

This villanelle is for the Secret Keeper’s writing prompt. This week’s words are:

APPEAR | PRESS | POOR | CARD | FALL

1024px-'Swans'_by_Bruno_Liljefors

Gales fill the sky with clouds, snuff out the light,

Shadows scud across the hills so dour,

We hold our breath as daylight dims to night.

 

Among the trees, rain patters, brief respite

Before your anger bursts, your storm brows glower,

Gales fill the sky with clouds, snuff out the light.

 

Oppressive silence fills the air—despite

The falling rain, the taste of it is sour,

We hold our breath as daylight dims to night.

 

Like paper, blossom’s torn, the sky’s alight

With red-tinged petals, blown the rose’s flower,

Gales fill the sky with clouds, snuff out the light.

 

So feeble our love seems, so pale and white,

Flame-red when passion had us in its power,

We hold our breath as daylight dims to night.

 

When did the swans we were sigh and take flight

To leave us empty-eyed beneath this bower?

Now storm-tossed clouds snuff out the summer light,

Not hands, but breath we hold as falls the night.

 

Of green fields and falling stars

For the last dverse open link night for a couple of weeks, a villanelle.

Photo©Zach Dischner

1024px-Starry_Night_(4828962598)

I can hear the voice of green fields calling,

On the rippled edges of my hearing,

See the fiery tails of fierce stars falling.

 

When all around me the sounds of brawling,

Clash with the cackle of brazen jeering,

I can hear the voice of green fields calling.

 

On the night dark streets where moonlight’s palling,

I watch for the signs of dawn appearing,

See the fiery tails of fierce stars falling.

 

When the skylark sings his songs enthralling,

In the morning sky where dawn is peering,

I can hear the voice of green fields calling.

 

I would trawl the sky with my net’s hauling,

To brighten the place of sad souls’ cheering,

See the fiery tails of fierce stars falling.

 

Too slowly the city days are crawling,

Too long the waiting, fraught and wearying,

For I hear the voice of green fields calling

And the fiery song of fierce stars falling.

When all the colours of the world are grey

Another villanelle for the dverse prompt. I chose this painting by Yumeji Takehisa because the ambiguity seems to fit the sense of the poem. To me the hand is a barrier between the two, saying ‘That’s enough! No further.’

754px-TakehisaYumeji-1930-Seishun_Fu

When all the colours of the world are grey,

And stars fall thick as ash in deepest night,

Between us there is nothing more to say.

 

The moon has set, I could not make her stay,

She would not see my silver tears of slight,

When all the colours of the world are grey.

 

In silence of the dark, I hoped that day

Would dawn, at least, with rainbow-coloured sight,

Between us there is nothing more to say.

 

November, chill and drear, it seems, not May,

This cascade, cold and cheerless, of pale light

When all the colours of the world are grey.

 

So long ago, it seems, spring flew away,

With swallow’s dart, wild goose’s steady flight,

Between us there is nothing more to say.

 

When boundless joy plunges into dismay,

Handfuls of dust, what once was pure delight,

Our shining world is empty, dull and grey,

No love between us, nothing more to say

Those first times that we’d meet

This villanelle is for the dverse prompt.

Julian_Falat_0033

Light is harsh and hard in this dull heat,

The moon a pale reflection of the sun,

Reminds me of those first times that we’d meet.

 

Air so still I hear the slow wing beat

Of buzzards, drawn by sound of hunter’s gun,

Light is harsh and hard in this dull heat.

 

Afternoons, café terrace replete,

We’d saunter home already half-undone,

Reminds me of those first times that we’d meet.

 

Summer fruit is never half so sweet,

As those we tasted, our love just begun,

Light is harsh and hard in this dull heat.

 

Looking back, a cynic, I’d delete

Your promises, just so much hollow fun—

Reminds me of those first times that we’d meet.

 

Wiser now, I fly on nimble feet,

Mellow dusk’s hues bathe me as I run,

Away from all the pain of this dull heat,

That recalls those first times that we’d meet.