Friday, March 06, 2015

The Poetry Seven Attempt Sestinas

This month my poetry sisters and I are working on writing Sestinas. It's a very difficult form to get the knack for, partly because the end words are extremely restricted. Each of the six-line stanzas use the same words in a spiral repetition. The best sestinas, IMO, tell a story. My favorite one is this by Elizabeth Bishop. Kelly has a wonderful explanation with tips on how to write one here.

For our sestinas we chose twelve words in common, each of us picking the six we wanted to use. We then got down to business with only a little moaning and complaining about the struggle to wrangle those six words into something making sense and beauty. I pulled up a memory of a fishing trip from my childhood and twisted it into shape with the end words "here, wind, turn, break, wave, up". My poem has gone through many revisions, and I'm not sure it's done yet. Here it is:


Good fishing here.
From the canoe our lines wound
across the creek, turning
slowly under the water, breaking
the line of waves.
Gradually the breeze picked up.

Drifting downstream, you never think of up.
How it’s a long fight back. Hearing
the gentle slap of larger waves,
we still didn’t notice the wind
until a bird broke
the silence and the day turned.

Years later and still stung, we will turn,
look at each other and wonder, what was up?
What was it that broke?
If only we could have heard
then the warning in the rising wind
or seen the trout slip away under the waves.

We thought we knew those waves.
We knew how fish calmly turn
away from the hook, but not how the cool wind
easily tosses the line up
clear into the trees. Here
we were, tangled in line that wouldn’t break.

To get that tackle we had to break
a hornet’’s nest and beat their wave
of fury. This bend in the creek here
they thought to own, to turn
into a paper castle up
in trees rocked by wind.

Hornets are at home in wind.
One cast is all it took to break
the peace. One hook tossed up;
flicked quickly over the waves
where hornets, trout, and children turn
thinking it’s always their own HERE.

Now one fights the wind, and we all ride the wave.
We wait for the break when everything turns.
Every morning we look up and we are all still here.

  -Andromeda Jazmon

Please visit the blogs of my Poetry Sisters to read their sestinas:

Next month we are working writing the form Raccontino, which I have never done before. I've never been fond of rhymed couplets, so...  should be interesting. For today you can hop right over to Robyn Campbell's blog, where she is hosting Friday Poetry!