One Day Too Late–Villanelles from the Poetry Princesses [Poetry Friday]

Happy Poetry Friday! Welcome, everyone! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)

So, last Saturday, I looked at our Poetry Princess challenge list for this year and discovered we were sharing villanelles this week. On the theme of brevity or shortness. Which was funny, because a villanelle is a long poem to me. And scary, because I hadn’t given it any thought.

I started out thinking a lot about the brevity of life. How quickly it goes and how we must grab onto every moment and make the most of it. But…I think about that a lot. And when I poem about it, it always comes out preachy.

My next thought was of the photos that have been haunting me lately. They are a photo exhibit called “Where the Children Sleep,” by Marcus Wennman, of child refugees in Europe. One of my daughters feels drawn to work overseas with and minister to impoverished and unjustly treated people and is exploring her options, which is one reason I ended up looking at the photos. I am terribly undereducated about the refugee crisis, but when I saw these photos–a real punch in the gut. Addendum: The child below is named Sham, and he and his mother arrived at the Hungary border one day after the last train carrying refugees left, one single day after Hungary closed its border at that spot. Writing poems is my small method of dealing with the horror I’m reading about now. Here’s what I came up with.

One Day Too Late

In the poem above, I wanted to use enjambment to go more smoothly from one triplet to the next and to vary the feel of those last lines more. But something about the “iron gate” and “too late” just felt so final. I just couldn’t glide over them and shift their meaning a bit, even though I think the poem would have been more interesting if I had.

I shared another imagepoem using one of his photos as a starting point recently. I shared it on Instagram, which I’m trying out. So if you’re on Instagram, you can find me and that poem there.

Don’t forget to see what my Poetry Sisters have come up with this month!

Kelly (Some lovely advice for those feeling politically overwhelmed)
Liz     (Feeling rushed? Settle into her poem)

Sara      (Wordplay and wit galore)
Tanita (Thistles and politics–both wonderfully prickly)
Tricia (The relativity of time in a world of Trump)
Non-poetry demands are keeping Andi away this month, but she’ll return :>)

Click here to see all our previous Poetry Princesses collaborations. 

Penny Parker Klostermann at A Penny and Her Jots has the Poetry Friday Roundup. Make sure to stop by and check out all the great links!

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29 Responses

    1. Thanks, I think. I cried several times while writing it. This is one of those times where the enormity of the emotion made everything I wrote feel trite. But…I had to try.

    1. Thank you, Sally. It’s so little, but it’s what I have to offer at the moment.

  1. Beautiful and heartbreaking. This is exactly what I believe this form was meant to do … use the refrain and its echoes to move the reader. You’ve done that brilliantly.

  2. Laura! This is steeped in compassion and imagery and love. But don’t think I don’t see your sharp skill, too! You use every word well, and YES, you are right to let that gate clang shut. Don’t change a thing. (Hug Maddie for her work, too.) xo Proud to write poetry with you today.

  3. Argh. This …the element of iron is used in so many words like “ironclad” to be final. And yet, we must pray that it is not so. This is lovely and haunting, Laura.

  4. My heart breaks. My grandfather was a refugee who lost his parents to war, and who went on to become a devoted, dedicated and passionate citizen of his new home. How heartbreaking that others won’t have this same opportunity to build a new life, and contribute to their new home.

  5. The photos and stories should be seen by everyone in our government. Considering you are scared of long poems, I feel this touches so deeply, Laura.And yes, the finality of the “gate” wanted the line endings final! Wonderful!

  6. Villanelles are a challenge, and you’ve skillfully employed the form to produce such a powerful poem. Thanks for sharing, Laura. Blessings to Maddie, obviously raised to be a compassionate soul.
    I read a heart-wrenching refugee account in a popular women’s magazine the other day that has not let me go.

  7. Laura, what you wrote is powerful and fills my soul with thoughts that humanity needs to really assess what is being done on a daily basis. “One single day has finalized their fate”-tragic.

  8. Oh, Laura. The images of refugees is awful and haunting and it eats at me. Bravo on writing a villanelle. That form just scares me. But, you’ve done a marvelous job of telling the emotion of the story. Well done. I hope Maddie makes it to Europe to help. Please give her an extra hug from me.

  9. Heartbreaking, the image, the words, the truth. We must write to deal with these horrors.

  10. “They’ve come to late.” Laura, that line really delivered the blow for me. I admire how the image and your words came together to create such a poignant moment. Beautifully done.

  11. Wow. What a great villanelle. Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

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