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On Visiting Herbert Hoover’s Birth and Burial Place by Thomas Lux 

 I admire Thomas Lux’s villanelle, “On Visiting Herbert Hoover’s Birth and Burial Place,” especially because the conversational banal tone hides misfortune. At the prairie’s edge, tents flourish, a reference to Hoovervilles. His message is still relevant: “What you spent was what you earned and not a dime in banks accrued.” Like then, “so many people can’t pay their rent.” The speaker is also humble, saying if he is wrong, he ‘repent[s], but don’t too many people dream of meat in their soup?” The greater divide between rich and poor—“some eat white bread, some get screwed”— due to greed is repeated. But would we, if in power, make any difference? The confusing syntax in the middle asks, “. . . how, can we prevent our oblivion?”

Janice Zerfas