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The Poetry Sisters’ recent pantoum project reminded me of how much I have disliked repeating poetry forms – but the pantoum was fine. However, I recently compared the pantoum to the villanelle. For a rigid topic, a villanelle works SO well – short lines, direct ideas. It’s good for inescapable truths. A pantoum sometimes leaves more wiggle room…

Pivoting back to my examination this month of those “deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being,” that T.S. Eliot mentions, I started thinking about growing up poor. Talk about an inescapable truth. I remember seeing an hourly pay stub of my mother’s when I was in the seventh grade, and being …afraid. I remember murmured, late night conversations that were probably my parents trying to figure out what to do, what not to pay, how to stretch what we had. That they owned their home was their sole saving grace.

My life is so different! I don’t own my house. I don’t own much. Yet, am I better off?


Couch cushions never hid cash
We winkled every last cent
Never allowed to buy “trash.”

Squirreling away in a cache,
So youth could not be ‘misspent.’
Couch cushions never hid cash.

Washed and pressed – neat, not slapdash.
“Who do you girls represent?”
No one could call us poor trash.

Concocted “cures” for a rash.
A doctor’s care? Infrequent.
Couch cushions never hid cash.

In school we read of the Crash,
Kids worked in fields for the rent
They even reused their trash.

Treats – cash and candy – I stashed
Where I hid my discontent.
Couch cushions never hid cash,
We were never allowed to buy trash.

How’s that for not “evading,” my truths, Mr. Eliot?