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March 3, 2005

US Poet Laureate Billy Collins defines the paradelle this way: The paradelle is one of the more demanding French fixed forms, first appearing in the langue d’oc love poetry of the eleventh century. It is a poem of four six-line stanzas in which the first and second lines, as well as the third and fourth lines of the first three stanzas, must be identical. The fifth and sixth lines, which traditionally resolve these stanzas, must use all the words from the preceding lines and only those words. Similarly, the final stanza must use every word from all the preceding stanzas and only those words.

Here’s my attempt at the form:

Paradelle for Atlanta
I imagine you soaking wet in a sundress with sweat.
I imagine you soaking wet in a sundress with sweat.
You hold a pitcher of sweet tea and drip with Spanish moss.
You hold a pitcher of sweet tea and drip with Spanish moss.
I imagine you drip sweet sweat in a pitcher with dry tea.
And hold you of soaking wet moss with a Spanish sundress.

Why don’t we drink lemonade with Confederate ghosts?
Why don’t we drink lemonade with Confederate ghosts?
Shouldn’t you be shaking cocktails and hopping bars?
Shouldn’t you be shaking cocktails and hopping bars?
Why shouldn’t we be Confederate cocktails with lemonade bars?
Don’t you drink hopping and shaking ghosts?

You’re feathery pines instead of picket-fence plantations.
You’re feathery pines instead of picket-fence plantations.
You’re more about the Spanish conqueror and Coca-Cola.
You’re more about the Spanish conqueror and Coca-Cola.
The feathery fence conqueror pines more instead of you’re Spanish.
You’re Coca-Cola about picket and plantations.

Don’t you imagine you’re shaking Coca-Cola with lemonade moss?
We wet conquerors drink about plantations instead of soaking in Confederate tea.
Why you’re a sundress and the sweat of cocktails.
You and I dry a feathery pitcher with a picket fence.
Sweet pines drip with ghosts.
Be hopping with Spanish and more Spanish bars.

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