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Saturday, June 18, 2011


by Ed Shacklee

Fiddle badly long enough, you'll learn
if you will give your heart; but, if you can't,
people simply love to watch things burn.

Feed the sharks to make the waters churn,
or ride upon the whitest elephant.
Fiddle badly long enough, you'll learn,

the gullible go crazy if you spurn
the facts and entertain them with a rant.
People love to simply watch. Things burn;

like books you skimmed by journalists who yearn
to find those flagrant gaffes you won't recant.
Fiddle badly long enough, you'll learn

how sweat and study reap a scant return —
the grasshopper is smirking at the ant.
It's simple: people love to watch things burn.

Thinking wrinkles brows, and makes you stern,
but dimples and you betchas will enchant.
Fiddle badly long enough, you'll learn:
simple people love to watch things burn. 

A Note on Form: Not nearly as refined as its elegant French cousin, the villanelle, the palinelle is an Alaskan repeating form created in honor of Sarah Palin, more or less, in which 2 mistakes are repeated on multiple occasions, followed by a strong double down at the end. Associated with a mental state called Palinoia, more successful palinelles condense 15 minutes of fame into 19 lines. 

Ed Shacklee is a public defender who represents young people in the District of Columbia. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in 14 by 14, The Flea, The Raintown Review and Shot Glass Journal, among other places.