POETS Day! The Villanelle

[This entry is cross posted at ordinary-times.com]

Back when I managed a pirate’s crew of waiters and bartenders I grew to accept that a set percentage of my charges was damaged, irredeemable, and blessedly transient. Exhibit A would be Stony McStonerton (not her real name.) Stony was the illegally baffled eighteen year old child of a large wealthy family. You knew she grew up rich because both her first and last names were last names. We got the dirt on her from one of our other employees, her cousin, who had the same two last names but in a different order. Stony struggled to be the black sheep in a family full of sootiness. The competition proved daunting so she retreated into a bong and watched the parade, figuring whatever direction trouble came from there would be a bail out so why not enjoy the show. One big weekend – Valentine’s or some such – when we needed all hands she asked off to see a band in Atlanta. We couldn’t let her go so she gave us the usual shrug, but there was something different about the gesture this time. In retrospect I’d say it lacked her trademark resignation. Five minutes before the Friday shift she called in sounding miserable and claiming sickness. The caller ID said Holiday Inn, Atlanta, GA. Stony was terrible at POETS Day. Her version of the Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday battle cry whimpered along I-20 and flounced, exhausted, in the restaurant’s back office. But… but you have to admire that she stayed true to herself. She could be counted on not to be counted on and through her lack of effort we confirm that the POETS Day spirit dwells within us all, just longing to be free. This POETS Day let’s reach out to those least capable of deceit and include them in our plans, and not just as convenient patsies if things go south or because they might put everything on some uncle’s credit card again. Get out of work early, soak in some sun, and see what bands are playing. It’s your weekend. Don’t wait for permission to get it started. In the meantime, maybe a little verse?


I just read that villanelles are sometimes called villanesques. I’ve not heard that before but suddenly I wish that they were usually called villanesques and only sometimes called villanelles. I’m picturing a poetic Legion of Doom with Hilaire Belloc and Sylvia Plath as Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, a mustachioed Rupert Brooke twirling Snidely Whiplash style in the corner, and a cackling Marianne Moore studying tarot cards while absently twisting the arm off an Ida Tarbell voodoo doll. T.S. Eliot makes a natural Moriarty.

“What manner of villainy are you poets up to?”

“We’re not up to any villainy, detective. It’s just a little villanesque.”

Missed opportunity.

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