Haiku for Sestina

April 28, 2009 § 6 Comments

imagesCAAGU7AMToday’s assignment was too much for me, but fortunately, it’s Two for Tuesday: we have a choice between two prompts. The first prompt was to create a sestina, a complex form that’s composed of 39 lines . You repeat 6 words as the end words in 6 stanzas and then include 2 of the words per line in your final stanza. I’m overwhelmed by the math alone.

The second choice was to write an anti-sestina and my haiku is the result. I would need about a week to write an almost not-awful sestina.

Cheeky gale force winds

send my talent overboard.

Dreaded sestina!


So you can enjoy a poet at work, here’s a modern take on the form.

Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape  
by John Ashbery  
The first of the undecoded messages read: "Popeye sits
   in thunder,
Unthought of. From that shoebox of an apartment,
From livid curtain's hue, a tangram emerges: a country."
Meanwhile the Sea Hag was relaxing on a green couch: "How
To spend one's vacation en la casa de Popeye," she
Her cleft chin's solitary hair. She remembered spinach

And was going to ask Wimpy if he had bought any spinach.
"M'love," he intercepted, "the plains are decked out
   in thunder
Today, and it shall be as you wish." He scratched
The part of his head under his hat. The apartment
Seemed to grow smaller. "But what if no pleasant
Inspiration plunge us now to the stars? For this is my

Suddenly they remembered how it was cheaper in the country.
Wimpy was thoughtfully cutting open a number 2 can of spinach
When the door opened and Swee'pea crept in. "How pleasant!"
But Swee'pea looked morose. A note was pinned to his bib.
And tears are unavailing," it read. "Henceforth shall
   Popeye's apartment
Be but remembered space, toxic or salubrious, whole or

Olive came hurtling through the window; its geraniums scratched
Her long thigh. "I have news!" she gasped. "Popeye, forced as
   you know to flee the country
One musty gusty evening, by the schemes of his wizened,
   duplicate father, jealous of the apartment
And all that it contains, myself and spinach
In particular, heaves bolts of loving thunder
At his own astonished becoming, rupturing the pleasant

Arpeggio of our years. No more shall pleasant
Rays of the sun refresh your sense of growing old, nor the
Tree-trunks and mossy foliage, only immaculate darkness and
She grabbed Swee'pea. "I'm taking the brat to the country."
"But you can't do that--he hasn't even finished his spinach,"
Urged the Sea Hag, looking fearfully around at the apartment.

But Olive was already out of earshot. Now the apartment
Succumbed to a strange new hush. "Actually it's quite pleasant
Here," thought the Sea Hag. "If this is all we need fear from
Then I don't mind so much. Perhaps we could invite Alice the Goon
   over"--she scratched
One dug pensively--"but Wimpy is such a country
Bumpkin, always burping like that." Minute at first, the thunder

Soon filled the apartment. It was domestic thunder,
The color of spinach. Popeye chuckled and scratched
His balls: it sure was pleasant to spend a day in the country.

Writers’ Digest prompt April 28, 2009

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§ 6 Responses to Haiku for Sestina

  • Thank you Mame, my former english professor will be happy I can keep it. I’m 47 years old and just now discovering how interesting poetry can be. Thanks for letting me hop aboard. A.T.

  • I was told I had started a new form of poetry by a writer friend I know who dubbed it a Haiku Sestina, but if it conflicts with what this form is we’ll have to call it something else. Any suggestions?

  • calliopespen says:

    Yes, let’s definitely do that, Pamela! I’m adding you to my blogroll so I can check back often:)

  • calliopespen says:

    Great haiku! I just learned of this form today and must admit it is quite intimidating. I became confused just looking at the numbers shifting in the explanation of the form, and decided to save this one for another day:) I love a challenge, though, so I am sure I’ll be attempting to conquer this beast sooner rather than later:)

    Just perused your entire site and will be back regularly. Your poetry is fantastic, and I really enjoy the relaxed and honest vibe of this site:)

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