This week’s challenge at Read Write Poem is to write a sestina. I have to confess that the sestina is my least favourite poetic form. However, I’m a masochist so I’ve written one with the following constraints: I’ve taken six nouns, randomly chosen as suggested by Tom and I’ve attempted to write something intelligible. The reason I don’t like sestinas is that most of them, and I don’t include Elizabeth Bishop’s called Sestina strike me as artifice and nothing more; form without content. My poem may, of course, lack artifice.
Beyond the Swamp
A writer in an obscure genre,
and a girl looking for romance
are sent to a house beyond the swamp,
never before reached by any mortal.
The journey will test their tolerance
and ability to survive shipwreck.
“These seas have seen many a shipwreck,”
warns the captain, “but not of a genre
you know. You must show tolerance,
not dismiss my words as romance,
then you will do something no mortal
has done. You’ll reach the house beyond the swamp.”
The wind is wailing across the swamp,
enticing them as they leave the wreck,
it sings of the shortness of mortal
lives. To proceed we must choose a genre.
Is it to be fantasy or romance?
Reader, I need you to show tolerance
because my subject is tolerance.
It’s what they need to cross the swamp.
I may throw in a little romance
to keep her spirits up and it won’t wreck
all chance of choosing another genre.
The writer clasps the girl, full of mortal
fear and weakness. No other mortal
has passed this way. His tolerance
is about to snap. A fantasy genre
will stop them sinking into the swamp.
Bars of black light descend on the wreck
as the girl still dreams of romance.
The writer is sinking; thoughts of romance
far from his mind. There will be no mortal
rescuer. A radiance now shrouds the wreck
(once again I crave your tolerance)
which starts to slide across the swamp,
clinching the preference for genre.
So out of a wreck comes tolerance,
maybe a future romance. No mortal
force saved them. Fantasy is the genre.