This villanelle is a tribute to the Rust Belt, and all the communities devastated when corporations close their American plants in pursuit of cheaper labor abroad.

Where silhouetted sentinels silently stand in vain
bleeding shades of layered shame on blight-lined highways below,
their ghostly shadows remind us of dreams we dared to drain.

Interred on unkempt plots, crumbling brick carcasses maintain
evidence we’re forced to see if the trails of traffic slow
where silhouetted sentinels silently stand in vain.

Rush-hour bottlenecks, the frustrated drivers’ daily bane,
exact tolls of tribute to hollowed homes lost long ago.
Their ghostly shadows remind us of dreams we dared to drain.

Daylight, drowned in the windowless dam of a plywood pane,
begs blackness, dwelling within abandoned walls, who’ll dare go
where silhouetted sentinels silently stand in vain?

Does the doll left naked on a spray-painted stoop remain
to testify children once played under its portico?
Their ghostly shadows remind us of dreams we dared to drain.

As darkness descends, the caravans of commuters wane,
leaving deserted the injured, desolate Jericho.
Where silhouetted sentinels silently stand in vain,
their ghostly shadows remind us of dreams we dared to drain.


E. V. “Beth” Wyler grew up in Elmont, NY.  At 43, she obtained her associate’s degree from Bergen Community College.  She and her husband, Richard, share their empty Fair Lawn, NJ nest with 3 cats and a beta fish.  Her oldest daughter is a biomedical engineer and her other two children are SUNY undergraduate students.  E. V. Wyler’s poetry has been published in:  The Storyteller, Feelings of the Heart, WestWard Quarterly, The Pink Chameleon, Nuthouse Magazine, The Rotary Dial, and on the website Poetry Soup.  In addition, 3 accepted poems are pending publication in Vox Poetica.

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14 Responses

  1. James A. Tweedie

    E.V., The message is powerful. The thought progression is smooth. The word-painting is over-the-top wonderful. The rhyme scheme is natural and unforced (this is a no small accomplishment for a villanelle). The only issue (for me at least) is that the metrical pattern is erratically random and impossible to follow (heptameter?). In the end, though, the poem “works,” and works well.

    PS: It may be obvious to everyone else but I have no idea what the phrase, “dreams we dared to drain,” means. How does one drain a dream?

    • E. V.

      Hi, James. Thanks for the compliments. Like a dwindling body of water trickling down a drain, we dared to permit the American Dream to slip away for so many formerly middle class and working class people. Hope this helps.

    • C.B. Anderson


      You are right about the meter (or lack thereof). One can only assume that this verse is syllabic, and I hope that this was the author’s intention.

      • Charlie Southerland

        Anapests and dactyls and Buddy Rich riffs, oh my! It’s Ink Blot art.

  2. Jerry King

    Very good Poem. The message was powerful and well delivered Also, well put together.


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