Late Night Radio

[A villanelle, based on an encounter while clerking the Robinson store late one spring evening. Written in March, 2008. -gb]

I drive at night to Prairie Five-Eight-O.
This fellow knows his Bible, that’s for sure.
God speaks through him on late night radio.

Those ivory tower types, what do they know?
This country’s sick and they can’t find a cure.
You have to tune in Prairie Five-Eight-O.

Statistics! Well, you know where they can go.
He said they’d try to snag me with that lure.
God speaks through him on late night radio.

He doesn’t push his own opinion, though.
He only gives you facts, simple and pure.
You have to tune in Prairie Five-Eight-O.

Just watch the colored population grow,
he says, and you’ll appreciate the Führer.
God speaks through him on late night radio.

Those turnpike nights are long. The hours go slow.
Your lonely thoughts are too much to endure.
You have to tune in Prairie Five-Eight-O.
God speaks through him on late night radio.

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About Greg Bryant

I teach writing and literature at Highland Community College in northeast Kansas.
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3 Responses to Late Night Radio

  1. bill griffith says:

    Throw some chords on this chap!

  2. bryon says:

    That driving (no pun intended) repetition is surely taken straight from whatever you were listening to, like the toll-free number on a late-night advertisement that you hear fifteen times in ten seconds. Is there a name in poetry for the pattern of repetition? (There’s one sort Julie has used, not that I remember what it was called.)

    Bill Griffith is right. This could be a companion piece to “Downtown Hell.”

    • Greg Bryant says:

      The name for this poetic form is “villanelle.” Originally, villanelles were not “metered” but “syllabic” — ten syllables per line. [Wrong: the form allows many line lengths. -gb] Two well-known examples of villanelles are Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” (syllabic) and Theodore Roethke’s “The Waking” (iambic). Both have the required six stanzas and identical rhyme schemes.

      Iambic pentameter is hard to make a song out of. Kerry Livgren of Kansas did, as I remember, but I can’t remember which song. It’s a ponderous line for a ballad. Actually, looking back at it, my villanelle is not really iambic in places, more syllabic. A fine line, to my ear.

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