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Poem Alert: Sestina

Occasionally I dabble in archaic and complex forms of poetry, a habit I think I originally picked up from Neil Gaiman (Vampire Sestina, Luther's Villainelle). It had been awhile since I've written, and I felt like trying a sestina, probably the most complex type I'm familiar with. In some ways, the strict pattern of repetition makes them nearly write themselves, but it's hard to keep the repetition from coming out silly and trite. Though I generally just let poetry be silly if it happens to lean that way.

It's the most flat-out love poem I've ever written, if you don't count teenage pimple poems. It does have a bit of a twist to it, though. It is not written about any particular one person in my life: you can consider it a piece of fiction with the emotional truth of various stuff that's been floating about in my mind lately.

Here it is:

I’ve got you figured out, my darling man.
You are a refugee from a love song.
You got out before the ending so sad.
You strolled out singing the chorus so sweet,
All dressed in black with a rose in your hand.
Please tell me that love can be real and last.

You could not bear to see the end at last,
When she’d betray you for another man,
Or run off to sea, refusing your hand.
Happiness alone won’t make a love song.
Without the salt you cannot taste the sweet,
But they can’t make you trade happy for sad.

If I could promise you’d never be sad
With me I would, but can such a thing last.
Only a fantasy could be so sweet-
Not a real life, a real woman and man.
You can sing it briefly in a love song,
But you can never catch it in your hand.

Tenderly I kiss you and take your hand,
And hope that what I say won’t make you sad.
I believe in love, not like in a song.
It can be passionate and deep and last.
But I swear never to love just one man
When I could love another just as sweet.

There’s enough love to go around, my sweet.
Reach out and grasp not one but many hands.
There is no need to be a lonely man.
There is always someone there. Don’t be sad.
Some fade but it’s all right because some last
And our love is better than any song.

Sure, you never heard this in your love song.
Real life is complicated but still sweet.
You’ll figure it out in time if you last.
Real love is in your heart not in your hand.
Jealousy sucks, it will just make you sad.
My love for you is stolen by no man.

The pages of the song fall from your hand.
Don’t you know it’s sweetened by being sad?
You’re not first or last but always my man.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
perruche_verte
Oct. 26th, 2005 05:34 pm (UTC)
Very nice. McSweeney's Internet Tendency takes sestina submissions, if you ever feel like going (more) public.
grenacia
Oct. 28th, 2005 01:00 am (UTC)
Hmm, perhaps I'll do that. I feel like I should give it a title, and I'm not sure what to call it. Funny how writing a piece can be so different from naming it. Ah, words.
grenacia
Nov. 9th, 2005 02:53 pm (UTC)
What a sweet little rejection letter (and I don't mean that ironically)
Sharla --
This tempts me, but I'm afraid that I'm going to pass in the end. We just get more good sestinas than we could ever hope to publish. Thanks for sending, and for letting us read your work.

Sincerely,

Daniel Nester
Assistant Web Editor for Sestinas
http://mcsweeneys.net/links/sestinas/
meastromatthew
Oct. 31st, 2005 05:42 pm (UTC)
Strong
It's Beautiful.. and Sad... and Happy..
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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