The rondeau echoes its refrain
in a subtle way, just as rain
at times will fall, not in torrents,
but in a fine mist, the wood fence,
weathered gray, resisting the stain

of water. So, the reader’s brain,
lulled, may not at first sustain
the expectation and suspense
__the rondeau echoes.

But, as drizzle will soak the lane,
darken the fence, and bend the grain,
so the rondeau, with persistence,
proves itself, though gentle, intense.
Across cultivated terrain
__the rondeau echoes.




The world teeters daily on the brink
of disaster: mole-men burrow beneath
the White House, suicide bombers slink
toward the Hague, thousands squirm in the teeth
of giant mutant rats. The clock ticks.
Music swells. In the dark we savor the dire—
its salty taste, the mesmerizing flicks—
while humanity walks the high wire.
We know that in the eleventh hour will yet
appear the Man of Steel, the FBI,
the brilliant, gorgeous woman of science
to save the world. And then the true suspense:
the lights come up; we step, with blinded eyes,
into our own lives without a net.



Lament from the Ash Grove

Not ever the cordons of elms did we envy
Their militant presence along city streets.
We cherished the streamlets, the bluebells, the valleys
Where played little children, where lovers would meet.

How sudden the spread of the deadly contagion,
The felling of elms, and their vacated posts;
And called up to duty as if by conscription
Were we, the fair ashes, as sentries and host.

Our branches, so graceful, now rustle in sorrow.
The past never ceases; again it upsprings,
For now, few are stricken—far more on the morrow—
By death that comes stealing on emerald wings.

How often we listened to sweet voices singing,
How often was lauded our broad leafy dome.
Now sadly these voices dark sorrow are bringing.
No more save in song will the ash grove be home.




Rita Moe’s poetry has appeared in Water~Stone, Poet Lore, Slipstream and other literary journals. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Sins & Disciplines and Findley Place; A Street, a Ballpark, a Neighborhood.  Now retired from an investment firm in Minneapolis, she lives in Roseville, MN.

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4 Responses

  1. Paul Freeman

    Wow! Three amazingly different poems.

    I enjoyed the rondeau with its extended metaphor, but particularly enjoyed ‘Thriller’ with its final couplet reveal (just like a ‘thriller’!).

    ‘Lament from the Ash Grove’ brought back bitter-sweet memories. During the time of Dutch Elm Disease, my father was self employed and I used to help him felling trees infected with the fungus.

    Thanks for some intriguing reads, Rita.

    • Rita Moe

      Thanks, Paul. Losing our boulevard elms in Minneapolis in the 1970s and 80s was really sad. We were the “City of Elms” (along with many other US cities). Ash seemed like a good replacement – and now they, too, are under attack.

  2. jd

    I enjoyed all three also, especially the surprise
    and excellent ending of “Thriller”. Thank you!

  3. C.B. Anderson

    The rhymes in the rondeau seemed inevitable, so well they were attuned to the progress of the narrative.

    I’ve heard about the plight of ash trees in the north. My friend in Maine is anxious about the towering specimens growing on his property. A nice idea for a poem, and nicely executed


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