Original Poem 15: Refrain

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I wrote this villanelle poem during my poetry course at Grinnell. I wasn’t fond of it then, and still think it needs tweaking now, but I like that it is a bit edgier than my normal writing style. However, what remained constant when writing this poem was my love of playing with word meaning. I found a unique opportunity in this poem to use the word “refrain” for its double meaning: v. to abstain from an impulse and n. a refrain, phrase, line, or group of lines repeated at intervals throughout a poem. In noun form, the word “refrain” compliments the villanelle poem in an amusing and playful way.

Refrain by Liz Davis

2009

You see me as a drop of rain among many

sprinkling droplets, yet I worship

you, and—no. I must refrain

from drinking too much champagne

and saying impractical love-sloppy (stop me!) shit

to you. I am a single drop of rain,

a teardrop sphere, driven insane

by you—and it’s hard to admit,

but you already know. I must refrain

from pouring my heart down the drain

every time I skip, then slip,

then take a sip because of you. I drop like rain,

roll down your hard veins, and gain

nothing, feeling desperate pain when I strip

and you say no. I must refrain

and give up this drowning campaign,

a weathered obsession.

You tire of rain.

I must refrain.

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