We’re speaking past each other. Wait.
Let’s stop. Our voices are angry, too intent.
Let silence hold our thoughts, translate
our reasons to compassionate
words, not just slogans, clever, truculent.
We’re speaking past each other. Wait
and listen. Perhaps you’ll hear some accurate
assessment, or a plan. Let righteousness relent
and silence hold our thoughts. Translate
this: America was always Great
but also foolish. And now we’re bent
on speaking past each other. Wait
until you can commiserate
with other viewpoints; hear what others meant.
Let silence hold our hearts, translate
yearning into loving action. It’s not our fate
to build up walls. Let’s circumvent
this speaking past each other. Wait.
Let silence heal. And hearts translate.
To prepare, I read villanelles by Bishop, Dunn, Kees, and Levertov. Then I looked in the 34 poems in this category for the traditional (19 lines, consistent syllable count, rhyme scheme) elements, plus intriguing choice of subject, image, diction, enjambment, and other characteristics of outstanding poems. A challenge; a pleasure.
“Politics,” which followed traditional patterning for rhyme and repetition, stood out for its use of interruptions within lines (e.g., the opening “We’re speaking past each other. Wait./Stop. . . .”, mirroring the subject), as well as skilled enjambment and use of “feminine” rhymes (consider “truculent” and “circumvent”!). The call for the silence necessary to listen to each other leads to a rising note, counter to the title itself. A serious subject, artfully realized.
Catherine McGuire is a writer and artist with a deep concern for our planet’s future. She has three decades of published poetry, four poetry chapbooks, and a full-length poetry book, Elegy for the 21st Century (FutureCycle Press). A deindustrial science fiction novel, Lifeline, was just released by Founders House Publishing. Find her at www.cathymcguire.com.