Nightmare As Sestina
Footsteps on a dance floor
Mark the sound of my life passing.
I tiptoe, slide, and chaînés softly
over shining lacquer gloss.
I tuck my knees into a leap
and make thunder when I fall.
My ankles buckle when I fall
and I tumble to the floor.
I lay still, the pain is passing;
though my bones are throbbing softly
they are soothed by chilly gloss.
The consequences of my leap–
Suspended metaphoric leap!
Is this my life, ending in falls,
footsteps absent from the dance floor?
All the while time is passing
and I stay here breathing softly
laying on the slippery gloss.
My memories now all have a gloss
I don’t recall before the leap;
they’re better than before the fall.
I see us glide across the floor,
see the loving looks we’re passing,
see us in the back room kissing softly.
I don’t recall your hands that softly
outside this brain-fog, murky gloss.
Our supposed eternal leap
came crashing in a bitter fall.
I remember from the floor
constant daggers spoke in passing.
But now this old pain too is passing
as I wake from sleeping softly.
It was a dream, that foggy gloss;
I can again forget the leap
we made, which ended in a fall,
and head out to the dance floor.
What better place than a dance floor
to mark time passing softly
and gloss over leaps that end in falls?
So Matt over at wantoncreation wrote a post on sestinas today, and it reminded me that I haven’t written a sestina since 2009. The thing with a sestina is that it’s six stanzas of six lines with a three-line envoi (concluding words) at the end. The trick is that whatever the last word is in each line of your first stanza must be repeated as the last word in a rotating pattern. The last end word of the previous stanza becomes the first end word of the next stanza and then the words continue in order; so,
…go read Matt’s post. It’s much more thorough.
Anyway, the last time I wrote one was for a class. Honestly the hardest part about this form is not the pattern; it’s picking six words that can almost always make sense at the end of the line and can be part of many different kinds of sentences. I used Aristotle’s six elements of drama (character, action, idea, language, music, spectacle) last time, which worked out very nicely because I was able to give a weird little poetic lecture about those elements.
This time I tried just using random words. It’s a lot harder.
But, I’ve done it, and satisfied myself that I can write a half-decent sestina, and it’ll be another three years before I write the next one.