A response to a poem by Holly

Dear Holly,

The buttons on my sweater
strain at the thread, promise to bare
my heart, leave me unfettered

in a world of burly, leather-
clad men who stare
at the buttons on my sweater.

I’ve never been a ‘come-hither’
kind of woman–I’d rather
my heart stay unfettered.

One night of heated touch on feathered
pillows, and my fingers close with care
the remaining buttons on my sweater,

now tense from coming together.
I doubt I could ever prepare
my heart to leave me unfettered,

to open up its folds, consider
taking up the dare¬
to loosen the buttons on my sweater,
to freely bare my heart, unfettered.


I love playing around with forms. This one is a villanelle. Thanks, Holly, (Lost Kite) for the great image of the straining buttons, and for the idea to use the image as a metaphor for internal changes.

11 thoughts on “A response to a poem by Holly

  1. Nathan says:

    I’m always impressed when someone can write a villanelle. I’ve tried this form so many times and always failed. I really like the way you use the form’s repetition to allow various meanings to accumulate around “the buttons on my sweater.”


  2. christine says:

    Holly’s poem is written in couplets, very tender, I really like it. This one is more of an experiment. I’m not sure if I succeeded here, Nathan, like you, I keep trying. It’s like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle.


  3. art predator says:

    Christine, this is a very successful villanelle! The form lends itself to reflection, and this poem shows the speaker’s own reflections, and how she is reflected in the eyes of others!

    I also like how the poem doesn’t call attention to its form, which to me is another sign of a villanelle’s success.

    The letter form is fun as well!


  4. paisley says:

    i read holly’s first in preparation,, and i found myself taking hers in a much more literal sense than i am able to take this one… seems to me that fettered heart is just waiting or a bit of yarn to begin to unravel and allow it the freedom it has secretly desired all along….


  5. Holly D says:

    Oh yes, love! This is wonderful! I love the repetition. You chose the right form for this, I feel. I am not as well-“versed” (huh-huh) in forms. Maybe I’ll try one for the response back. Yay for new ideas!


  6. Julie says:

    Oh, yes! You have definitely succeeded. You two have created beautiful poems. I’m going to have to print them out, so I can see them together. That fourth stanza is exceptional. I think it’s so cool that you are inspiring one another…sort of a call and response. I guess it’s collaborative work…in a sense? Or maybe it’s a collaborative inspiration. Wonderful work!


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