Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A sestina!

My students in History of Poetic Form seem especially intrigued by the sestina--two of them wrote their own, unbidden.  So our last class was devoted to generating six words (out of 20 or so), forming small groups, and then writing sestinas.  The students came up with wonderful end words, several related to the Halloween season.  You can imagine the pies made of phalanges, the manatees in graveyards, the zombies in Paris.  Each group performed their sestina.  The class was so successful that I'm taking them pie tomorrow, pumpkin, not phalange.


And here is the sestina I wrote. I feel very sheepish in noting that I've never before written a sestina.  But what fun!

Manatees & Zombies in a Parisian Graveyard

A horrible, hot Florida vacation. All I saw was a manatee
who lolled in the rancid water like a zombie
trolling around a 19th century graveyard,
all the bodies decayed, except for some stray phalanges--
is that a word you'd use in Paris,
I wondered, when you're asked for tart, or pie?

We drove past Pres. Nixon's favorite bakery for key lime pie
still seeing in our mind's eye the bulbous manatee
wearing a whisker as stylish as any Paris
haberdasher sews, the slow-moving zombie
drifting among fans of hands wearing their phalanages
underneath gloves as gray as any graveyard

when, through the hard rain, we spied a graveyard
and decided it was just the place to eat our pie,
taking care to keep clean our smudged phalanges
lest they get lost like dice, like a manatee
that earned a big prize as Zombie
of the Month at a prime cafe in Paris--

I do so miss the Spring in gay Paris,
Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison in Pere Lachaise graveyard.
Pedestrians near the Eiffel Tower look like zombies
out in search of a proverbial pie
made of cherries, apples, strawberries, or manatee
jam that really stickies your phalanges.

You! with the oddly bent phalanges,
your arthritic hands like a bare tree in Paris
that one winter we went from manatee
to zabronkey in the dictionary's graveyard,
slowing down only once for pie
and a hard look at the word zombie.

Zombie Land's the new Disney, where Phalanges 
is a rollercoaster ride, the Pie a bird in Paris, and climate 
change a graveyard for my late pet, Manatee.

I'm not sure my last three lines follow the directions very well, but there you have it.

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