Beyond The Haiku: An April Sestina

I love haikus. They’re a fun way to play with words — the original Twitter. But earlier this year (I guess like two months ago now), I was cleaning … well, let’s go back in time (I’ve had the HARDEST TIME writing) …

(Blog post started April 24, 2015)

So, I was going through some stuff the other day (I’m perpetually “going through stuff”) and I came across this old-ass paper I had saved with directions about how to write various structured poems. One was a Sestina. I could see why I saved it; I really like the challenge of creative writing in a structured way.  Haikus, parody songs, themes (Jimmy’s like … why don’t you ever do “This Blogger Life” or “Blog-a-palooza hour, woman?), what-have-you. Not to mention, even figuring out what the actual structure of this thing is is like figuring out a logic puzzle.

But, for some reason, I took it out of the binder of stuff I’ve been saving/hoarding/archiving and decided to give this baby a whirl. I wrote this poem — I called it an April Sestina for obvious reasons, writing it in April and all, but it turns out, it really did take me the better part of a month. It looks from the revisions in Drive that I started it around April 7th, and here we are.

(Back to the present day)

Well, it obviously took me ANOTHER month to really finish it. It’s not something that really happened. It’s fictional. But I guess you could say it’s “based on a true story.” I’ve been hanging out with someone who has a way of seeing things — people, places, moments — and makes them beautiful. I’ve had the opportunity to start to see myself a little differently. It’s not without a price; I also have a little problem with falling for people who make me feel. But “No Labels, No Drama,” right?

But, that’s a story for another day. And my “April Sestina” is apparently a poem for another month. Here you go — nothing’s more ridiculous than poetry. I’d rather tell you more about my recovery from alcoholism and my 14 year anniversary (this week) of checking into the psych ward, but I’m trying to push the creative envelope. So here. Fuck it.

p.s. Writing a Sestina is fucking HARD, yo. HARD. Those last three lines are a BITCH.

The car clock read 3 a.m.; we’d spent hours talking.
An easy silence fell between us as we ran out of things to say.
Looked away, my head tilted down.
But he reached out and lifted my face up.
Wasn’t sure what he was thinking;
I thought I heard him whisper, “You’re beautiful.”

I’ve always wanted to be called beautiful,
But the prospect of it also makes me nervous. I started talking,
Rambling in a random way; hoping I could get him thinking
About something else. I was starting to say
“Let’s turn on the radio,” and he looked up,
Directly into my eyes, and said, “Breathe. Calm down.”

Normally, someone telling me to “Calm down,”
Is the first match to igniting a big, bright, beautiful,
Angry inferno. I can hardly catch up;
My nerves sing electric, from a distance I hear the way I’m talking.
The words turn to metal in my mouth, and I say
Exactly how fucking furious I am, just precisely what I am thinking.

In this moment, while his words still short-circuited my thinking,
They brought no anger. Instead, time slowed down.
I no longer had anything smart to say;
It was all I could do to breathe. The moment itself became beautiful;
There became no more need for talking.
He wouldn’t look away, and my head drifted down once more. He lifted it up

Again, and made me look at him. I felt my heart rate speed up,
My mind start to race. You know, the other day I was on the train, thinking
About how much I enjoy spending time with my friends, talking,
Taking road trips, music up, windows down.
Going to the beach and watching how beautiful
The sun sets on the lake. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

His eyes crinkle with a smile. “What I hoped you’d hear me say,
Was that I’m not making anything up;
I’m not trying to flatter you by saying you’re beautiful.
I know what you’re thinking —
It’s 3 a.m. But maybe you could let your guard down,
Trust that I really see you. It’s not a bunch of empty talking.”

The stars were beautiful and I chose to believe what he had to say.
All of our talking was done; it was time to finish up.
I was thinking it would be nice to go and lie down.

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