Another Sestina? Yes! “Seeking”


I have been thinking a lot about poetry lately. This is partly because I’m supposed to be working on a novel! But also because I’ve been in contact with a couple of very supportive websites for online poets. This poem is written for the “open link” night of dVerse Poets Pub, which also inspired the form.

The sestina, for those who don’t know it, is a form consisting of six six-line stanzas whose lines end with the same six words, repeated in a somewhat confusing cycle. The last three-line stanza, called the envoie, also uses all six words.


It was heat so hot it cut the air
into panels of swaying bend and warp,
her gaze into off-set swathes of view;
heat so hot that it blotted out the sun,
passing off white noise as summer sky;
heat as hot as any she’d not felt,

for the weather did not burn but lined with felt
her day, her lungs, her movements through the air,
enclothing its tight fist around the sky.
So very hard to breathe a weave and warp
that were weighted not with light but sun,
which, even as it seemed to hide from view–

only a smear in the red-orange view
of dusk, the pink of dawn–made itself felt
as a chemical ball of flame, a sun
of some far planet that in time/space warp
had circumvented the Earth’s true sky.

Oh where, oh where, she wondered, was the sky?
Its hue, its blue, the newness of each view,
the healing that could ease the twist and warp
that tugged at all she thought, at all she felt.
Oh where, oh where, she wondered in dull air,
was he who once was called her only son?

In truth, of course, he still was called her son.
The names of things not found under the sky
remain their names, like lyrics to an air
whose tune is lost, like paintings of a view
long since blocked out (by trees, let’s say, who felt
their limbs took precedence). In the warp

of her wandering mind, even the warp
of branches that curved and craned for sun
was conduct consciously planned and felt–
for all was sentient, live, under the sky,
while also dead. This special point of view
appears to the human for whom to err

has been divine, who’s felt the loss of sky
that held a son, a point of view
so sharp, it limned the warp of missing air.

P.S. For those interested in process–I did not have a clue of what I was going to write when I started only that I wanted to try another sestina. So I focused on a few good repeating words, and started out with a line (more or less) from the novel I am supposed to be working on (which does not have a story anything like this.) Oddly, I did not think about “err” as a homonym till the second or third draft.

(As always, all rights reserved.)

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17 Comments on “Another Sestina? Yes! “Seeking””

  1. Very rarely do I have a clue what my poem will end up to be when I first sit down to write… Your poem here has such a nice flow of word combinations, which rolled right off my mental tongue as little pieces of wonder…. Of course aesthetics are the physical beauty of poetry, and emotions are the core of it I think. I have had so many days like the one you so beautifully portrayed here, where the sun has somehow not reached it’s full potential in my day, the sky less than the crisp beauty my desires need, and the blah of it all overpowers me. I want to give you this quote from the great poet Robert Frost, because I think you might enjoy this:

    “I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.”
    – Robert Frost

    • manicddaily Says:

      Thanks so much. I guess that is true. (In fact, I’m sure of it.) But this one really went in a very different direction than I had anticipated, and really is not based on my experience. The intensity of the day and confusion, sure, but thankfully, not that kind of loss. Thanks so very much for your thoughtful comments.

  2. Luke Prater Says:

    Sestinas are no joke… and you’ve done the form justice here… kudos

  3. brian Says:

    hey different is good…and i think you did really well with the form…did you drop a line in the 3rd stanza?…you summation stanza at the end is tight and rings with emotion…

    • manicddaily Says:

      Oops! Yes! Agh! I may have written it but I was walking around working on index cards. I’ll have to look back at my cards. Crazy. Thanks. I’ll have to come up with something!

  4. manicddaily Says:

    Yes, found my cards and I didn’t notice missing line! Geez!
    Thanks again.

  5. claudia Says:

    i have high respect for everyone who approaches a sestina…great job…and funny that you mention you had no clue where you were going…often happens to me when i write form poetry as well…not sure why…

  6. Intriguing tornada, I’ve only written two sestinas so I admire your efforts. I especially like the err/air homonym. Thank you.

  7. tashtoo Says:

    You been bitten by the sestina bug! Strangely addictive form that you’ve done a brilliant job with, from my understanding. Knew nothing of it until dVerse, now it won’t let go, however, most of my own attempts have been far from postable! fantastic work here!

  8. Mary Says:

    I too am impressed that you tried another sestina. One of the hardest of forms, I think; and you did it so well.

  9. I love this poem… I rarely know what I’m going to write when I 1st… sometimes I do, then end up with a totally different story on paper.. nothing like the joy of letting poetry run its course through your veins… great work

  10. ayala Says:

    You did great!!!!!!!!

  11. I found this absolutely delightful! The air is so heavy I could positively feel a hot flash coming on, such is the vibrancy of your word play. And the son? Anyone who ever had a son feels the pull of looking for them always, regardless of age.
    Very well done.

  12. Wow amazing this one is a difficult challenge to write and you have done such an excellent job on it.

  13. Joe Hesch Says:

    So many poetry forms give me the willies, but you’ve made this sestina a comfy fit to my ear and eye. So much of my fiction springs from a lime or concept from one of my poems, so I found interesting that you worked this piece from the opposite direction.

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