my third decent sestina! ever!

My first two were [Persephone and the spider], which was written for a contest on Gaia, and denizen section L. (That's 50 for you non-Roman numeral lovers. I now wonder if my teenage self was making an unconscious pun there. 'Cause denizen is a long, long poem about the descent into madness, and its section numbers go from I to L. Get it? I to hell? XD Okay, it's a terrible pun. Sartre, however, was exactly wrong. Hell is the absence of even the possibility of other people.) So, typically sestinas don't rhyme. Instead they are characterized by the pattern of repeated end-words. Each sestina has six stanzas of six lines each, plus a short three-line stanza at the end called an envoy. All seven of those stanzas must use only the six chosen words at the end--or, in the case of the envoy, in the middle, according to the following pattern:
2/5, 3/4, 6/1
I make them rhyme because I like to, it's harder that way, and I think a really long form poem is boring without rhymes. Homonyms ARE allowed, so bare/bear and wear/where are totally within the rules. If homonyms weren't allowed I doubt any sestina would ever be written. Oh, and yes, I did do some grammatical fudging--there's a bunch of places where I dropped an "or" or "and" without a semicolon. Still understandable...just not
totally correct. I call poetic license!

As I just now said to Dave on AIM, I wrote this poem out of a combination of grandiosity and spite. Well, not spite exactly. Someone on the Ankhet forums told me sestinas don't exist, because they typed "sestina" into a search engine and came up dry.

My response was: 1) try "poetic form sestina" (link appended), and 2) was that...a

So, of course, I had to write one. :D Originally I meant it to be about the person who, ah, instigated its composition, but it ended up about me. Me-as-I-wish-to-be moreso than me-as-I-am, however. Foolish me!

[the explorer]

She took a pair of scissors to the map
till 'here' was shorn, 'there' was no longer there.
She had no ink to scrawl across the gap,
nor pages with brave emptiness to bare.
For she felt sure such knowledge was a trap,
said to herself, "Well, here I am; that's where

my world begins and ends. Should I beware
of dragons at the edges of a map
made by some fool who never journeyed there?"
And so she flung herself into the gap.
She yearned to see, to learn. She could not bear
to be told which paths led on; which were traps.

So, soon or late, she fell into a trap.
She gathered pride (a heavy thing to wear),
pounded it flat. There bloomed a bare new map:
a hint, a note, a hard way out of there.
In those closed walls she found a narrow gap,
sucked in a breath as deep as she could bear

and squeezed through, inch by inch. Until, scraped bare,
she stood outside that first of many traps,
breathless but whole. All she had left was where
that exit lay: her handmade, hard-won map.
Though more than once she found herself back there,
each time again she found that hidden gap.

And so she flung herself into the gap
time and again. And all that she could bear
out of that first and most familiar trap
was her own legend of the route, of where
her steps had wound--her own, her faithful map.
She cursed at first, then laughed to find it there.

Though she took comfort in its presence there,
each time she flung herself into the gap,
deep in her bones the landscape bloomed, laid bare
by constant travel--each wide path, each trap.
One day she found a fresh explorer there.
She laughed--remembered--gave away her map.

Use scissors there. My scrawling is a trap
till knowledge inks the gap wisdom scrapes bare
within you. Journey, earn; become the map.


Julie Hedeen said...

wow! I have to read that some more, and also work out your math within it! Like doing sudoku with words or something, and also rhyming and also telling a story. wow. I wish you could just do that. But I suppose doing other things gives you more to write about.

Fiat Lex said...

:D Oh, getting paid to sit around and write poetry would be sweeeet. I'm really glad you like it! Went in a very different direction than I expected, but that's the case with lots of creative stuff, y'know?

It's weird, how some things you'd think would be inspiring--like the many interesting customers and coworkers in my daily grind--don't result in poetry. And then I go on a forum and have a brief exchange with a troll, and write a sestina. XD Silliness!

Amber E said...

I love it! You have written good stuff before but reading an amazing poem for the first time just takes my breath away. Very nice :)