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
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.