A reading of the below poems by the poet:

 

The Loan

a villanelle

This life we hold so dear is but a loan.
For good or ill, its balance must be spent,
For life is not a thing that we can own.

The wasting of our fragile flesh and bone
Is not within our power to prevent.
This life we hold so dear is but a loan—

But brevity of life, which some bemoan,
Should but lend urgency to what is lent,
For life is not a thing that we can own.

Remember what you planted—what has grown?
It comes of what you’ve done, not what you meant.
This life we hold so dear is but a loan—

You cannot reap what you have never sown!
Waste not another day! Turn and repent,
For life is not a thing that we can own.

Spend life on those you love, or die alone—
And wonder, at the end, where it all went!
This life we hold so dear is but a loan,
For life is not a thing that we can own.

 

 

To a Deer

By what right do I take your life today?
Your flesh and blood are not unlike my own.
The same Hand made us both, and gave to you
More grace of form and motion than to me.
It is by reason of that grace you live
Not only in the forests of this world,
But also in the hearts and minds of men—
In history, in legend, and in song.

Your name was often on King David’s lips—
But then again, he sang of hunters too.
And many generations earlier,
God said to Noah that all moving things
Were food for man—and after David’s time,
He spoke to Peter, saying, “kill, and eat!”

By what right does the wolf feed on your kind?
By what right does the cat devour the bird?
To live is to be hungry, and if you
Had fangs and claws, you would not feed on grass.

If honor is a thing that you can know,
I hope that you will see some honor in
The great pains I must take to bring you down.
There is no wrath or greed in what I do.
We must all die someday, and I will strive
To make this death the best one you could have—
And you, as all your ancestors have done,
Will live on in the hearts and minds of men.

Your life will nourish mine, and I will try,
As I have always done, to live a life
Deserving of what God has given me.
And now, farewell—I send you to your rest.

 

 

The Sleep of Woodsmen

When evening finds me on some wooded rise,
Or else the level ground along a stream,
A heaviness descends upon my eyes
And Nature takes the semblance of a dream.
For I have known a peace beyond repose,
In rest unlike the comfort of a bed.
Though some men’s brows are furrowed while they doze,
The woodsman’s sleep is like that of the dead.
Go find a spot beneath the open sky,
And drape the night like blankets ’round your form!
The ground will be the couch where you will lie;
Though it be cold, the campfire-hearth is warm.
__Recline at ease in Mother Nature’s arms,
__And be surrendered to her Morphean charms.

 

 

Benjamin Daniel Lukey lives in Monroe, North Carolina.  He teaches high school English classes whenever he is not fishing or writing poetry.  His work has previously appeared in Edify Fiction, Sincerely Magazine, Gathering Storm Magazine, and other publications. Please visit hellopoetry.com/bdlukey to read more.


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7 Responses

  1. T. M. Moore

    I very much appreciate the craftsmanship and theme of the villanelle. Well done. I resonate with your view of life. Question for you: Is there wiggle room in the repetition of lines? Yours are so faithful throughout. I find I have to adjust the repeated lines a bit. Am I breaking the rules for villanelle? Thanks.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      T.M., There is indeed a bit of wiggle room in the repetends. The last word should remain constant, and sometimes is a good idea to repeat ONE of the lines faithfully, lest things get out of hand and the form can no longer be recognized. But grammatical variations (tense, etc.) and breaking the line up with a period, dash or semicolon to provide semantic variations are a plus. These two things keep a villanelle from becoming too predictable and strait-laced.

      Reply
      • T. M. Moore

        C. B., that helps me a lot. I don’t have the skill at villanelles that Benjamin demonstrates here, but I love the form. Your advice encourages me to experiment more, but I’m going to keep Benjamin’s model before me as I do. “Repetends” – is that what we call these?

  2. C.B. Anderson

    T.M., There is indeed a bit of wiggle room in the repetends. The last word should remain constant, and sometimes is a good idea to repeat ONE of the lines faithfully, lest things get out of hand and the form can no longer be recognized. But grammatical variations (tense, etc.) and breaking the line up with a period, dash or semicolon to provide semantic variations are a plus. These two things keep a villanelle from becoming too predictable and strait-laced.

    Reply
  3. James A. Tweedie

    Ah, at last . . . A villanelle where the lines actually fit together and make perfect sense. Introducing the word “lent” as a counter rhyme with “loan” tied it all together for me. And, in the sonnet, I loved the image captured by the phrase, “drape the night like blankets”—a tangible image I have savored when sleeping in the open air. As the sun sets over the Pacific Northwest coast, these poems have refreshed and renewed me after a busy, beautiful day. Thank you for sharing the poems.

    Reply

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