Friday, May 28, 2010


I was challenged by a colleague to write a villanelle. Ouch, they are hard! In some ways, the form demands a kind of incantatory frame of mind - those repeated lines just do something trance-like. So, of course, when I'm challenged, and when there's a form demanding something from me, I want to do just the opposite of what it asks. In this case, I make it go an intellectual direction, even though the argument between head and heart is what it's actually about.  My heart is almost always quieter than my head -  not always good.

In any case, I'll offer up the resulting villanelle for Poetry Friday.


This is the way Head plays:
cultivating the Art of the Clever
whenever Heart has nothing to say.

I’m upset with Cleverness today
though sometimes he’s my lover.
This is the way Head plays

with me, the not quite innocent way
a lover does, our purposes severed
whenever Heart has nothing to say.

Heart, Head – their display
of appetites in me is hand delivered.
This is their way – the play’s

the thing wherein the bray
of Head projects while Heart withers,
having nothing quite as loud to say.

Head, Heart whispers, find a clever way
to end this. Do it one way or another.
And so -  Head plays
and Heart has nothing to say.
Poetry Friday today is being hosted over at THE MISS RUMPHIUS EFFECT.   Head over to see what other people have posted!


  1. Great job!

    "Incantatory" is exactly the right word for the way a villanelle is.

  2. Oh, yes. Me, heart, head...I've been there. Also, the whole "do the opposite of what is asked." Rules tend to make me clever. Maybe I should just submit to them with my heart.

    Anyhow, this villanelle is now one of my touchstones.

  3. Bravo! Love it, Julie :). Especially heart whispering at the end.

  4. Excellent, Julie!

    "This is the way Head plays

    with me,"

    Love that surprise turn of phrase. Thanks!

    Laura Evans
    all things poetry

  5. I'm sure Heart is proud of Head, who has tied it all up, cleverly and feelingly. Very nice!


  6. a maze of feelings and words, thank you, Julie, my head and heart do say, Nancy Bo Flood
    (I'm back from Saipan today!)