The sestina is a fixed form of writing that resembles a poem and feels like a ride on the teacups. The sestina is 6 stanzas of 6 lines, each line ending with one of 6 words that repeat but change position in each stanza. The sestina ends with an envoy of 3 lines, each line embedding 2 of the 6 line ending words. Beyond that, we make no claims on Sestina, and hope that she makes none on us.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. The Coming of the Toads blog is Copyright 2007-2013, Joe Linker.
Sestinas linked to home page (or see text below list):
Bukowski and the Three Flies. Lady Gaga Sitting Cross-legged on her Gomden. Heart’s Apron. Waltzing with a Loon to the Tune of a Whippoorwill. The Twitterers (after Walter De La Mare’s “The Listeners”). Sestina’s Angel. Sestina’s Radio. Big Dogs in Tall Grass. Didi and Gogo Feted with Lifetime Achievement Award. Ere Words Were. Peccadilloes; or, The School of No Sestina. Pop Luck Soup. Prufrock’s Cat. Whiteout on the Whiteboard in Winter.
and pules until he falls
into her arms and she pulls him
off his stout cask
and steals a sip of his Falstaff.
touching his face masked,
with slender pink nails running the rim of his brew,
tracing the scars on his face,
when did he first fall
spoiled and askew.
The third takes off his shoes and hums a hymn,
tenderly rubbing his feet, humming,
his feet half-soled with beach tar, trash
cans, hums for three hours until Buk is as sober as
an oaken church pew,
and the bar flies all fall
to the bottom of a glass stuck with Falstaff.
Bukowski from the floor asks for a pint of Falstaff,
singing a rum tum hymn,
swatting the air for the flies just fallen.
The stout sober poet stands ajar and asks
for just one last brew.
He rises and drifts like a hot air balloon falls,
and bewildered asks
for a full glass of Falstaff,
a newly fresh falling brew.
Buk’s humming the fly’s hymn,
up again, like an upright cask,
but his hoops break apart and the large man falls,
misses the last call, and the bartender hoses and flushes him
and the fallen Falstaff and the flies from the bar, a huge task,
washes out the flies and brew, and into the gutter they barrel.
Lady Gaga Sitting Cross-legged on her Gomden
Largess the monstress Lady Gaga sunscalds her saga
Lady who? Lady Gaga, aka radio caca
from Saginaw hitchhiked qua-qua
down to Lollapalooza maga
a funny thing happening on the way to pay paga
and on her gomden she sings her hagiography
Her saintly lady hagiography
with still a lot more to saga
heorte abut America her maga and her paga
and how baba gets her yagas out no caca
on her gomden a tabloid tatoo-bio gone maga
Lady Gaga’s letters to a lil monster qua-qua
Poker faced on her gomden qua-qua
the androginous Germanotta hag
monster tattooed maga
eats her own saga
to satisfy our taste for caca
Lady Gaga please phone yr paga
Speechless she calls her paga
the sharp-toothed Gaga in her qua-qua
on the road in her caca
wrapped in a graphic rhapsody
from ragas to riches sagacity
of rarely heard magnitude
The herd of monsters their magnitude
staggers the Grand Duchess of Paganini
oh, the fame, the fama, the bottle rocket saga
the dressing up of the pointed qua-quas
the beatific dress covers the hag’s gomden
stained and glossed in caca
Eyeless in Caca did Lady Gaga
usurp the sagitta of Madonna-non-maga
her songs to mill on a stone-grind
her etymologically reclined paga
singing la-qua-qua, la-qua-qua-qua-la
sacrosanct slanginess saga
maga dances the qua-qua
and the gnome sings under the saga
Oozing down the sinuous sleeve the heart’s blood
tempts the jackdaws to table to dine
each bird a caddy for another’s purse
whose ears exceed hearing and have eyes to eat
who renounce not their heart’s guards
but pronounce things with ease and clarity
if left to their own corrections
sop with erasure the heart’s brood
I ago did watch one eye that pursed guard
too hungry to alone dine
for the ears on the word’s feast
a three egg amulet protects the purse
but there’s nothing in the purse
the notion needs correction
so we can sit down empty and eat
something other than this soul’s doubloon
good grief alone better to dine
than suffer the guarded guards gardening
the ones who taught the heart’s guards
deluge ago to spend with lavish the purse
so that today’s diners
might eat correctly
in a sacrifice bloodless
at an ordinary eatery
so with consciences clean let’s eat
bring us the menus guards
and napkins for these touchy emotions
unbuckle the rope that holds the purse
let it all hang out but with good manners
for our purposeful dinner
ago then we did dine
on hearts on sleeves we did eat
under the apron of the guards
who held our purses
and allowed aloud no drooling
but this rectitudinal dining in and out
fills with bile and drool of toasts and teas
drop your guard forget the purse let’s flee
Waltzing with a Loon to the Tune of a Whippoorwill
Henry’s loon waltzed into the room laughing
laughing laughing at the phony moon
rising over the pond-like screen
laughing at Henry, at me, and at you too
who scorned the whippoorwilled
who loon-waltzed our way across the fall season
who tweeted twitted twisted and tallyhoed on
but what stilled the waters the antithesis of laughter
came the calm call of the whippoorwill
calling up to the ballooning moon
to Henry, Huck, Hank, and all of us who
waltzing across a lightbox screen
click click click the path of the reen
and fail to see the turn of the season
while flashes YouTube and you too
laughing laughing laughing
at the simple simple single moon
who waltzes with the whippoorwill
to the epizeuxises of the whippoorwill
the yoke on me preening for the screening
in a full no half no quarter no moon
in the turning turning turning of the seasons
as the lone loon laughs
at Henry, Huck, Hank, me, and you too
yes at you too you too you too
whistles the only whippoorwill
as the moon falls fades the laugh
and across the pond fills the screen
white going going gone the season
of the wry loon waltzing with the moon
with the dry improbably wry moon
then on the far shore you too
out of rhyme out of sync out of season
running running running for the whippoorwill
and across the pond comes a single scream
that echoes epizootically laughing
out of season the waltzing singing loon
laughing woo hoo! woo hoo! woo hoo!
the poor loon waltz in a pale fall screen
The Twitterers (after Walter De La Mare’s “The Listeners“)
twitted the Twitterer,
Twitting on the backlit laptop;
And his cat in the silence watched the empty light of the screen
Of the laptop’s infinite face.
And an ad popped up out of a modal window,
About the Twitterer’s eyes:
He twitted again, blinking his eyes;
“Is there anyone following?” asked the Twitterer.
But no one twitted back inside his white window;
No comment from the rotting laptop
Popped out of the blank light to interface,
Where he sat, eyes pulled to the screen.
But only a virtual host of phantom followers behind the screen,
Dwelling eyes dwelling within the one lonely eye,
Sat following in silence on the blank laptop face
To that twit from the world of men twittering:
Sat following in the light of the laptop,
That glows with unsleep through the window,
Disturbing the web in a twittering window,
By the twittering Twitterer’s twittering screen.
And he saw his strangeness in his laptop,
And their weirdness, through their eyes
Moving in white and blue background twitter,
Even the cat transfixed by the cursor blinking in the face;
He suddenly twittered again, his face
Lifting from the laptop’s window.
To his cat he twittered:
“I stayed as long as reasonable at my screen.”
Never once did the followers bare their eyes,
Every twitter he twitted from his laptop
Fell into the echo deep in the heart of the laptop
To the one man whose twittering face
Saw a blank set of eyes,
And heard the cat scratching at the window,
And felt the whistle filling with white light the blank screen
When the cat twitted off leaving the Twitterer
Sitting at his laptop staring at a blank window,
His face at one with the blank screen,
His eyes ever alert for the next twitter.
Sestina falls prey to the sound silence of the Angel
sitting in her lap playing with a ball of wireless
a wireless webbed feline bureaucracy
where pleas receive no reply
and the sole sound is a silent catty wind
and long days pass with nothing said of the terrible
Rilke ranted something about beauty being terrible
while in Sestina’s lap sat the lapping catting Angel
who cannot hear in the stringless whine
no place for the bird to come to rest on any wire
wireless carriages of desire race to a place where all replies
are lost in the terrible beauty of the host’s hidden bureaucracy
At Sestina’s night bureau sits a bird clicking crazily
a loon poet on the bum singing terribly
rolling out with rigor a robust reply
to the Angel
who threatens to wire
up the wireless wind
To tone down this tuneless wordwind
while sleeps the will-less bureaucracy
but for now the Angel
sends no reply
Any ranting request certainly receives no reply
as Rilke races the ramparts terribly winded
and shaking her head the windless wireless Angel
disappears into the flow chart of blissful bureaucracy
to that place so terrible
wireworms crawl the tripwires of the hardwired
Waving to the boldest bidder of weird wire
waiting for the beauty of the instantaneous reply
that memo from the waiting Angel so terrible
dark wings unfold and the winds unwind
the galaxies of celestial bureaucracy
bang and bend in time to the tune of the supreme Angel
The terrible embrace of the wireless
Angel orders no reply
For wellness dwindles so deep in such a bureaucracy
Big Dogs in Tall Grass
On the beach at Refugio we walked under palms through sea grass
Small waves rolling off the point from curlers coiled and we’re
Young and unafraid holding our long boards against our hips and in
Summer surfers with yellow and green bangs and those days only a few dogs
Peopled the campground under the fat wide palms big
Umbrellas shading the old watermen drinking cool beers out of tall
Cans telling stories of how in their days the waves were really tall
Paddling out beyond the kelp beds and diving through the ocean grass
Holding their breaths under water scraping off the rocks big
Abalone shells for eating on the beach around the evening fire we’re
Stoking in a giant hole near the high tide mark with dogs
Down the beach running after gulls swooping low and in
The water the dogs paddle into the shallows after the gulls in
The shore pound the old stories go out with the tide before the big tall
Pensheet dogs with designer stories of virtual waves but these dogs
Don’t see the sun also rising setting fire to the grass
We don’t need your tall tales we are a big dog generation we’re
Never going to passeth away we’re just that big
The pensheet dogs they said were high class the dogs were really big
Went to the finest schools in the prairie grass land in
With the in crowds in with the big dog push the big dogs were
All witty wealthy healthy hardly weathered at all and tall
And ran through the tallest grass
But didn’t notice on their tail trailing the three headed dog
Bidding them sign a yellow dog
Contract and sign it they did the big
Dog generation in the tall grass
Trying to avoid passing away in
Dog dress posed in ties tall
And dog weary of putting on the dog were
Bone tired and dogged they were
Now in the dog days of their runs as big dogs
Woofing at their virtual waves barking tall
In the overhead grass under a big
Ocean prairie sky panting and drooling in
The tall dry smoky grass.
Who listens to this doggerel we’re wishing still big
And long swells to the lucky dogs under running laughter in
The whirling wind through the tall sea grass!
Didi and Gogo Feted with Lifetime Achievement Award
A country road. A tree. Against the tree a bicycle. Quick! Gogo!
What the hey? I was sleeping! Why can’t you let me sleep, Didi?
The need for your heinie’s beauty sleep notwithstanding,
Surely you’ve not forgotten we are to be feted, you hopeless hobo.
I could use a new pair of shoes, though I shall dance no doubt solo.
What about Godot?
Just this once, we won’t wait for Godot.
Both on the wind and off, eh, Gogo?
I’m bound to remind you I can go this solo.
Oh, please, love, don’t leave us waiting all alone, Didi.
I want to practice my standing.
I don’t want to fall on the stage like some common hobo.
Where’s your bicycle, Gogo, the one you acquired from that hobo
With the funny hat and tight shoes? Claimed he saw Godot
In Hermosa in the 70’s at the Biltmore, notwithstanding
That grand hotel already razed. Those were the days we were on the go.
Yes, yes, enough said, but was it Godot’s? And did he
Not leave us in the end after so many promises solo?
Yes, before your onions and bunions soliloquy.
Oh! The feet and breath of this at once great and humble hobo.
How do we get in, do you suppose, Didi?
I had just found a new pair of shoes in which to address Godot.
New Year’s Eve 1969, we saw Johnny Rivers at the Whiskey a Go Go!
Oh, you poor thing, remembrances of time past notwithstanding.
The elements, the rain and snow, a bit of sun notwithstanding.
Remember the night of the marauders? We prayed for our soul.
Yes, the soul we’ve shared and with which we now go,
Not heaven nor hell, to each his own, a worked over pair of hoboes
Who worked hard waiting faithfully for their Godot,
Who never ever came, our hour upon the stage, did he?
For perhaps we missed him, looked away, did he,
Our good intentions notwithstanding,
Pass by this place, this road, this tree, our Godot,
And seeing us distracted with an onion or a bunion pass, solo,
Ignoring his ignominious hoboes?
Let’s go, let’s go, it’s time, let’s leave this place, let’s go!
Didi! No matter what happens, don’t leave me solo,
A lonely hobo, a bicycle with no kickstand,
Waiting to go, wanting to go, unable to go, nowhere to go.
Ere Words Were
Woe were we when once we wooed
wowed with words we would vow
to wed where naught
taught to tie the knot
a language log in front of us saw
how it was on a woeful wordful sea.
To whoo in the waves of a spelling sea
to whit her way through a sea wrack wood
while I too hooed to walk saw
you to a vowel moon owling
out of a wood worded knot
a sentence fraught with naught.
Yet we should not
set sail on too prim a prescriptive sea
wear not too tight the knot we tied for the knot
does not mean our days of wooing
must turn to stone washed vowels
that we might say how we saved how we sawed.
Woe the night full of guttural saws
silver dreams of wordscaped naught
woah the mirror that burns not its own vow
merely reflects what it hears
in a dark forest a bearingless wood
of articulated knot.
Woe to valor that ties a knot
for one side up the other not this seesaw
giddyup and stop of hooah and woah
she loves me she loves me naught
how it was on the woo worn sea
ere we enjoined the corseted vowels.
Whoa the abode that constantly vows
to daily renew a woeful knot
or be chastised to sea
for what we were for what we saw
for what we heard and what we could not
before we verbally wooed.
Now down to the sea words borne of vows
set sail to keel whit to hoo but not
with a saw set wode with naught.
p>Peccadilloes; or, The School of No Sestina
In the School of No, every word
sounds a peccadillo,
every class closes a cage,
every cage captures a rule,
every rule regards no
No bites yes with gusto
behind a fence of words.
No, no, no
that’s the rule
in the land of cages.
Explained John Cage,
what cage you’re in, escape with gusto.
Well, that was anyway John Cage’s rule.
Silence was for the rule his word,
though he broke records of silence with every chance peccadillo
he got in the School of No.
No No knows
a Yes one day came selling out of a cage
from a food cart stuffed with gusto,
apples falling and rotting for a code was worded:
no Nos can know – the candy apple red rule –
a committee of Nos ruled.
So life is slow in the School of No,
for a world wrapped in rules needs no words,
and all the world’s a cage
where the only gusto
blows in from the occasional peccadillo
by some picaroon poet acting alone,
against tide and rule,
all hopped up on some street grade gusto,
but soon runs into a posse of nos,
and is put back in the cage
without a word.
So with a bit of tempered gusto we suggest this peccadillo:
every word should break a rule
to escape a School of No cage.
Pop Luck Soup
Lettuce dew the cabbage head chop.
Sea hear, old gourd face. The squash is still on the sill.
Radical zucchinis. Carrots pointing and poking.
Turnip, have you no heart? Don’t be rutabaga.
Radish reaction. Thistle never do; wilt thou look?
Please, asparagus more of this.
Peas, take off your jackets, mix with us.
Ouch, salt, potato eyes cry, chopped.
Corn fits in hand like a tool. Look,
unknotted legs mush the silly
knuckle-balling tomato out of a rut
with a nice little poke.
Habanero the jalapeno poke,
ice cream koan this,
rooting around in a bag
of bluegrass chop.
Mush run it again through the still
to get the right look.
Should put this aside now and let it cool,
this pig in a poke,
or something of that ilk.
I’m not sure what this is,
and we’re still chopping,
scrounging at the bottom of the bag.
A soup should be like a gab,
like a parade, the curbs full of onlookers,
the marching bands chopping
through the lines of folks pushing and pulling and poking,
heads popping up like thistledowns.
Sure, and fools with painted faces acting dilly,
playing out the King’s idylls.
The clowns are the Court of Garbage,
composting that and this,
giving us all for free a new look,
for in the eye they poke,
and to the nose they chop.
So long lives this spicy green silliness,
bitter chops of arguing arugula,
this face wears the soupy look of poker.
In the failing fog the Prufrocked cat froms and froes,
catcher of mice and men,
leaving not a trace of trance or dance
with which we were once familiar,
catabolic feline with contractible claws.
A hiss as from a match declares this driven cat with drawn claws.
This hideous hipstress wears no frown.
Nevermind, nevermore, familiar
tuna must suffice; in fact,
I’m opening the can as fast as I can.
Fiend, your mane is mean!
Man knows not your true menace,
the deceitful pale rose of your delicate claws
clinking ice to a theremin dance,
an idle locomotive meowing to and fro,
the moves of this domestic cat’s
imagery eerily familiar.
In what lonely lair was sired this queen of liars?
Did He who made thee amid mice make men?
How came you back from the cataclysm?
Did I hear you in the catacombs caterwauling?
Yet now you come in dress frolicsome,
singing, “Do you wanna dance….”
Though the salty leap gives rise to a contra dance,
the caryatid looks familiar,
a choreography of calligraphy, dancing to and fro,
a sweating menagerie.
Mind those mendacious claws.
This mendicant needs no frilly silly cat
messmate out to act
some tunahall cancan.
I too should have been a pair of claws,
a crawling cat on the lam,
whose unreadable bedlam mien
strikes mayhem then saunters off to and fro.
One more clause regarding this catachresis:
Whether to or fro on this floor dancing,
Prufrock’s cat is the cat of a family man.
Whiteout on the Whiteboard in Winter
The shadowless man in the center of winter
drew nine snowmen leaving no shadow
on the boardroom wall size whiteboard
and sketched one goal as cold as snow
nine snowmen into one who would wander.
The snowmen started to wonder
who in the whiteboard world would wonder
such opportunity in win win winter.
The shadowless man began to wander
here on the whiteboard without shadow
as quiet as a field of snow
empty save the snowmen on the whiteboard.
Whiteout conditions on the whiteboard
showed a winterland of snowy wonder
how in the wonderland of snow
in a whirling passage of winter
with zero shadow
one will wield wander.
The shadowless man wandered
solo across the clear whiteboard
concealing all shadow
not even a digress to address the wonder
soulful worship of winter
leaving no metric in the snow.
Around and around in the field of snow
the shadowless man wandered
silent on the stage of winter
in a whiteout on a whiteboard
with no edges no wonder
across the field fell no shadow.
Lost with no mere mirror shadow
the shadowless man fell in the snow
wandering he fell wondering
why worry about wandering
in fields of whiteboards
in the silence of winter
no shadow with which to wander
in the snow of the whiteboard
wondering where the nine 8’s went in winter.