December’s Theme: Tracking Mud through the House

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving/weekend. I spent much of my long weekend in the mountains, where we had temperatures from bitter cold to chilly-but-nice. That’s the Appalachians for you. My mini vacation gave me some inspiration for our next monthly theme, but we’ll get to that.

November featured our regular contributors again, with a galumphing theme which carried the symbolic depth I had hoped it would. Two submissions took the lake/glass pairing as metaphors, focusing either on looking in the mirror or drowning. My favorite submission, however, took some much welcome liberties with the free verse form and produced a short story that is poignant and stirring. Go read it right now if you haven’t yet. I’ll wait.

Tracking Mud through the House

Can we all agree that we’ve seen a lot of free verse themes recently? Same with existential/just plain weird themes. Time to tone down the serious and up the creative ante.

Theme: mud-stained boots

Structure: Villanelle

As I said earlier, I spent some time in the mountains this past weekend, which was a good chance for me to hike through the woods with my dog. The snow and ice our first day on the mountain melted away by the second, and then it was all just mud and slush. My dog loves running around in the woods, but for some reason hates being dried off with a towel. And he squirms.

So, mud-stained boots (or paws or shoes or feet) it is. And a rustic theme calls for an equally rustic poetic form. The last time we saw the Villanelle was in June, with a  series of poems about Thought. As a refresher, here’s the main structure:

A1 b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 A2

Note that this form uses alternating refrains with the rhyme scheme as well as a secondary rhyme scheme. One of the most famous poems of this form is “Do not go gentle into that good night,” by Dylan Thomas, where the title line and “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” alternately end each stanza before coming together in a sort of climax in the final quatrain.

Bonus points if you can make a climactic couplet out of “mud-stained boots”. Send submissions to

Steve D

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