Saturday At The Border by Hayden Carruth

Here I am writing my first villanelle
At seventy-two, and feeling old and tired--
"Hey, Pops, why dontcha give us the old death knell?"--

And writing it what's more on the rim of hell
In blazing Arizona when all I desired
Was north and solitude and not a villanelle,

Working from memory and not remembering well
How many stanzas and in what order, wired
On Mexican coffee, seeing the death knell

Of sun's salvos upon these hills that yell
Bloody murder silently to the much admired
Dead-blue sky. One wonders if a villanelle

Can do the job. Granted, old men now must tell
Our young world how these bigots and these retired
Bankers of Arizona are ringing the death knell

For everyone, how ideologies compel
Children to violence. Artifice acquired
For its own sake is war. Frail villanelle,

Have you this power? And must Igo and sell
Myself? "Wow," they say, and "cool"--this hired
Old poetry guy with his spaced-out death knell.

Ah, far from home and God knows not much fired
By thoughts of when he thought he was inspired,
He writes by writing what he must. Death knell
Is what he's found in his first villanelle.

by Hayden Carruth

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