Frankie Drayus

Villanelles I love, like those by Elizabeth Bishop and Dylan Thomas, have a way of feeling inevitable. A good villanelle joins together like a universe, or a body. It seems to move of its own volition – to carry itself spinning through to the end.




          villanelle for my nameless one

She is the word I lost. Write daughter
Penned in disappearing script
Her life a poem spelled in water

If there’s a God, and She’s a potter
I would pray to sculpt a crypt
To hoard the word I lost – write daughter

There are things I never taught her
Before she, like a secret, slipped
Her life a poem spelled in water

Into places where I thought her
Whisper couldn’t carry, gripped
Me – she’s the word I lost – hush, daughter

Tripping – my arms never caught her
Body swimming slender-hipped
Her life a poem spelled in water

On some nights I think I spot her
Floating in my sleep, tight-lipped
She is the dream I lost. Write, daughter,
Your life: a poem spelled in water.


"Naiad" previously appeared in the Valley Contemporary Poets 2001 print anthology, Beyond the Valley of the Contemporary Poets






Frankie Drayus’ poems and short-shorts have appeared or are forthcoming in Third Coast, Ninth Letter, VOX, Passages North, Barrow Street, and Art/Life Ltd. Editions, which also included a piece of her collage art. Her manuscript was chosen as a finalist for the 2007 May Swenson Poetry Award. She recently graduated from the MFA program in Creative Writing at New York University where she was poetry editor for Washington Square, and now lives in Los Angeles with one husband, one cat, and a multitude of aloes and agaves.