The following poem began as a composite exercise. When started it, I had every intention of it being a villanelle; however, I ran into a bit of trouble primarily because the lines were so long. (I have another villanelle with significantly shorter lines under the post entitled Attempting a Villanelle which seems to work much better as a villanelle in my opinion.) The first line of the poem was begot from a writing exercise in The Poet's Companion. In the chapter, Addonizio and Laux produce interesting sentences, and then ask the reader to makeover the sentences by adding their own appositives. Their sentence went: "All that I love tonight -- your body curled beside mine, the vase of white lilies, the one bird calling from the yard -- might be lost tomorrow." The appositive phrase obviously being within the dashes. So I redid the sentence to produce the first line of this poem.
"February 14th" is also a byproduct of this excercise. In their sample sentence, Addonizio and Laux wrote, "I wanted to return to that place, the tiny village in Mexico." In my poem, I wrote about wanting to return to an ex-boyfriend's shithole apartment. You can see that from Addonizio and Laux to my own sentences that anything can be expounded on well beyond a generic phrase or sentence. Once you add the personal into a sentence or poem it makes for a unique piece. As for the following piece, it took on a life of it's own after I got the first sentence down. Although it is a bad example of a villanelle despite the amount of times I've tried to revise it to be so, I will admit that I am truly fond of it. Poems, of course, are what they are; the poet is merely their polisher, not their craftsman.
All that I love tonight -- your whole body lowered before me, like a mendicant in need of want -- may be lost tomorrow.
I fall in love with the dim light riding your furled back, your head in my lap, I find this love like knowing peace.
I hang on your soiled shirt, smooth your wet hair, press up against you; give the work of body suffering to see you go.
(it's muscle memory i suppose the way my fingers know the count of the bony ridge of your back)
I grip and thrash at those things I can have forever, the memories like marred or faded photographs. How do I know
that your love lasts? Your underwear strewn on the floor, the unmade bed, the chatter of television seeming to cease?
All that I love tonight -- your own body lowered before me, like a mendicant in need of want --may be lost tomorrow.
So I waste no time stealing away the smallness of your eyes, the flatness of your nose, the birthmark in the shadow
of the upper neck. But most of all I want to pocket your lips, charming the pores of my chest as if they were a feast.
I hang on your soiled shirt, smooth your wet hair, press up against you: give the work of body suffering to see you go.
I often mistake love for fly-by-night trysts but keeping you on me, piece-by-piece, is lovelier than remaining hollow.