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