Two Poems By Richard Jones

A Villanelle
 
I will never write a villanelle—
The French have a different kind of voice.
Though villanelles are loved in both heaven and hell,
 
I’ve written sonnets instead. Sonnets tell
Stories full of complications and choice.
I will never write a villanelle
 
Because their refrains tend to spell
The theme too loudly, like nails pounded into a joist.
Though villanelles are loved in both heaven and hell,
 
I tend toward free verse and the little bell
Of internal rhyme that rings when a rhythm is in poise.
I will never write a villanelle
 
As I will never sculpt in marble—
Freeing a song from the white stone’s noise.
Though villanelles are loved in both heaven and hell,
 
I shall remain happy with my crystal
Couplets, and all my Shakespearean joys.
I will never write a villanelle,
Though villanelles are loved in both heaven and in hell.




The Phonograph
 
I was five when my father opened the Telefunken
console stereo and showed me how it was done—
 
slip the LP from its colorful cardboard cover
and, with open palms, hold the disc like a lover
 
and fit the center hole over the silver spindle.
Volume was key. It was best not to over-fiddle
 
with the dials. Keep all knobs in the middle,
like little clocks tolling noon or midnight.
 
The flat record waited on its round rubber mat
as I held my breath and pressed start. That
 
lifted the tone arm, which swung like a crane
but gently, gentler than a drop of rain,
 
it dropped the diamond needle on a single groove.
The turntable began its sophisticated move
 
and after a long moment—a scratch and hiss—
my father looked me in the eye and said, “This—
 
this is Count Basie. This is sublime.”
And he snapped his cool fingers, teaching me time.

Richard Jones’s two most recent books are “Stranger on Earth” (Copper Canyon Press) and “Avalon” (Green Linden Press). He is the editor of the literary journal “Poetry East,” which will publish its 100th volume this autumn. www.RichardJonesPoetry.com

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