Not Ours (villanelle)

with nothing left between us time devours
dismantles resolute as doubts pervade
we disappear in days no longer ours

resentments stalls in robust searing showers
reigns heavy on this landscape’s masquerade
with nothing left between us time devours

effects engraved with rice-encrusted flowers
divided into fractions disarrayed
we disappear in days no longer ours

still-life is sorted, packed in cardboard towers
as broken portraits hang in halls betrayed
with nothing left between us time devours

with wicked tug-of-war commitment cowers
enumerates each memory surveyed
we disappear in days no longer ours

voracious weight of wedded lonely hours
lamenting weary promises waylaid
with nothing left between us time devours   
we disappear in days no longer ours

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35 Responses to Not Ours (villanelle)

  1. i like this a lot christi – it has a great flow and feels totally unforced. you’ve also chosen two strong refrains. we disappear in days no longer ours paints a strong picture and sums up the whole mood very nicely and i just loved the rice-encrusted flowers and wicked tug-of-war commitment cowers

  2. Luke Prater says:

    Hi Christi –

    Strong and heart-rending villanelle. Your refrains which acts as closure,

    ‘we disappear in days no longer ours’ sums this one up for me thematically. The use of figurative language in this line is very strong and clever too. disappearing in days no longer yours is such an abstract yet effective turn of phrase and gets me every time. There are many greta lines here and your meter and rhyme is all there, bar one place, where the iambic pentameter is problematic. Before that, just to say I think these lines need a comma midline to clarify and give pause for breathe too –

    with nothing left between us, grief devours > ‘grief’ ok on its own, but watch it’s juxtaposition eg in last stanza with ‘lamenting weary promises’ and such words. Skirting cliche here for me.

    with wicked tug-of-war, commitment cowers >great line

    Here is the metrically problematic line –

    ‘counts out every memory surveyed’ – you’re forcing ‘every’ to be stresses as ‘ev ER y’ rather than ‘EV er Y’. Many people say it as ‘ev’ry’ and will write it like that in poetry to be clear. What if you had –

    counts out in ev’ry memory surveyed

    counts OUT | in EV | ry MEM | o RY | sur VEYED

    Beautifully-wrought villanelle Christi, enjoyed it very much

    • Christi Moon says:


      Thanks so much for the detailed feedback. I will get to work on an iambic re-write for S5 L2 to address the meter issue.

      Stanzas 2 through 5 are all iambic pentameter + 1. any issues with that?

      Do you think this piece would be stronger if I switch out the word grief from the A1 refrain line?

  3. Becky Kilsby says:

    Christi, this is a relentlessly pulsing villanelle, with some really well chosen phrasing. I like the absence of punctuation – that starkness on the page works well with the message.

    There is only one place where I lost my footing a little…the 2nd line of this stanza:

    with wicked tug-of-war commitment cowers
    counts out every memory surveyed
    we disappear in days no longer ours

    When I was trying to think of alternatives, I wasn’t sure whether you meant count out in a boxing sense or numerical listing. If the latter, would this work:

    enumerates each memory surveyed

    The choice of words throughout is really strong aurally too.. lots of pounding consonants. Resolute.

    • Christi Moon says:

      Becky– you are a vocabulary goddess! I love your alternate for S5 L2. Yes, I meant listing… as in, who gets what.

  4. Natasha says:

    Wow…another villanelle…this form seems to be haunting me (bloody miserable at it, am I!) Honestly, this piece fell effortlessly from my lips with nary a stumble. Enjoyed it much!

  5. Aida says:

    You’ve perfected this beyond its original perfection. It takes courage to make grief so real, so material, so touchable, so poetical. It’s a creature that you have in this Villanelle Christi. A beautifully sad creature.

  6. brian says:

    love your close line…we disappear in days no longer ours…carries a lot of emo this one…and i am glad luke critiqued this one as form is not my strong point…

  7. Carys says:

    I didn’t get to see the rewrite of this one on the board Christi so it’s a real joy to see it here. Your first refrain is much stronger now and Becky’s suggestion for that problematic line is excellent. The sense of loss is searing. I particularly like the section where you’ve reinforced the emotion with the concrete images of the cardboard towers and broken portraits.

  8. emma says:

    Beautifully done, Christi. You’ve really strengthened this since I first read it, and I think your refrains very nicely. Some super stand out lines for me especially ‘love broken portraits hang in halls betrayed’- great, vivid line.

  9. Victoria says:

    I’ll focus on content rather than rhyme and meter which Luke has adressed so well. You’ve evoked a strong emotional response in this one, Christi. I’ve read some really good poetry on the subject of ending relationships/failed marriages and this is right up there at the top of the list. The tragedy just bleeds out of your words.

  10. wolfsrosebud says:

    Beautiful combinations of words throughout, but I’m wondering why you end the last stanza with four lines?

    • Christi Moon says:

      thanks for taking the time to read/comment wolfsrosebud. Here is the Villanelle form:

      A Villanelle is a nineteen-line poem consisting of a very specific rhyming scheme:
      aba aba aba aba aba abaa.

      The first and the third lines in the first stanza are repeated in alternating order throughout the
      poem, and appear together in the last couplet (last two lines).

  11. shan says:

    Very strong emotionally feel bereft after reading, as I’m here to critique I’ll put my boss hat on lol!! Ok I feel like some of the refrains especially A2 could be strengthened “we disappear in days no longer ours” youve already used the negative no and our in the first refrain, a little re-jig of the wording here and you could have a refrain like

    “this cancer eats away our final hours”

    Or something along that line….and then you have a boom boom pow moment…oh

    I know Luke’s looked at the stresses here too, I’m not going to do that, it’s just the second refrain that let’s the piece down a little. Saying that it’s pretty darn smokin sister!

  12. Kim Nelson says:

    I’m late to pub night and, after reading all of the comments, cannot offer any new crit. (Luke seems to have covered that thoroughly.) I can say that from an emotionally evocative perspective, this is powerful. The images of packing boxes, dismantling a life are perfect. Grief over what is no more is perfectly parsed; and the fact that days will be singly lived, not shared is searing.

  13. Marousia says:

    Whoa, two villanelles in a row tonight – I take my hat off to anyone who attempts this tricky form. Luke has already covered the stresses so I won’t go there. I thought “effects engraved with rice-encrusted flowers” was a great image – visually.

  14. David says:

    Christi, I concur with Becky’s observation that your villanelle is “relentlessly pulsing”. There is a definite music to it that conveys the emotional intensity all the way through. Great poem!

  15. lori says:

    I found this to be moving, and I appreciated your language use. “we disappear in days no longer ours” – love that line. Thank you so much for the crit my way. I re-wrote the poem. Not sure it’s where it should be yet, but I feel better about it, at least. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

  16. I could feel the emotion in this piece, the loss of this relationship. I love these lines:
    “we disappear in days no longer ours”
    “with nothing left between us grief devours”
    Beautiful, touching piece.

  17. I take my hat off to anyone who can successfully achieve a villanelle!

  18. Mike Jackson says:

    I really enjoyed reading this poem. Thanks.
    I wouldn’t dream of trying to crit it – I’m far too inexperienced.
    However I loved reading the comments and your description of the villanelle form.
    You’ve certainly made me feel as if I should go off and try it.

  19. Poetic Soul says:

    This should be read out loud in a room filled with people, its perfect

  20. Hey Christi

    Firstly let me say thankyou for your interested comments – you pointed me toward an editing mistake i hadnt rectified which i thankyou for and i appreciate all your feedback.

    I thought your poem had great rythmn and flow, with taunt stanzas really bounced when read aloud – rounded by your tight twin refrains – i felt this piece and recognise your allusions which are executed very well. I felt push and pull and dynamic tension.



    • Christi Moon says:

      Cheers Arron. I thoroughly enjoyed your poem. dazzling word choices and vivid imagery. I look forward to reading more of your work. xC.

  21. maekitso says:

    The sense of heartbreak and grief you have conveyed in this piece is palpable Christi. I haven’t given much attention to the villanelle as I haven’t encountered many that really captured my imagination. You have sparked my interest in the form for sure. Thank you.

  22. Hi Christi,
    This is brilliantly constructed. You’ve tackled one of the most challenging verse forms and won. Well done.
    Kind regards, James.

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