“Sestina” by Paul Burgess

I wrote this, my first sestina, in 2006 just to see if I could do it. The sestina is an exceptionally difficult form, and mine is pretty lame. [The same six words must end the lines of each stanza, and the lines in which the words appear must follow a specific sequence].

Sestina:
As the house band loudly plays,
They finish a frantic dance.
He buys her a fresh, hard drink
And looks confused ‘til she waves,
And then toward her he moves.
His shoes squeak in time with his steps.

He thinks about how lightly she steps,
The way she sweetly teases and plays,
And then how seductively she moves;
He loves how she smiles when they dance,
Same as when she splashes in the waves,
And he watches, holding a drink.

With a kiss she thanks him for the drink.
On the wah, the guitarist steps.
The couples hit the dance floor in waves
And hum along with the riffs he plays;
The building itself seems to dance.
A drunken pair shows off its best moves.

He hopes she’ll go with him when he moves.
He wants to ask, but just sips his drink.
Sadly, he thinks, this could be their last dance.
As back and forth, side to side, he steps,
A mental film of them married plays
And then one in which she cries and waves.

Her wild hair, flowing as untamed waves,
Swishes and sways as her head moves,
And upon it, the light softly plays.
She feels she’s had too much to drink;
Slightly unsteady are her steps,
But she still enjoys the dance.

Worn out, they cease to dance.
In the wind, a flag waves,
While outside, they sit on the steps.
For seconds, neither of them moves.
Gnats land on them and start to drink.
Inside the band still plays.

With her hair she plays
While his eyes restlessly dance.
It seems as if all he’s had to drink
Escapes his pores in sweaty waves,
As he proposes to her on the steps…

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4 thoughts on ““Sestina” by Paul Burgess

    1. paulwhitberg Post author

      Thank you! To write one, choose 6 words, one to end each line; it helps to label them 1-6. The patterns for each stanza are:
      1,2,3,4,5,6;
      6, 1, 5, 2, 4, 3;
      3, 6, 4, 1, 2, 5;
      5, 3, 2, 6, 1, 4;
      4, 5, 1, 3, 6, 2;
      2, 4, 6, 5, 3, 1
      1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

      Like

      Reply

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