Have You Tried Turning It Off And On?
Looking at an old Poem Of The Week, (on sestinas; check it out) just to remind myself of how good it used to be, I came across a sestina I’d written and completely and utterly forgotten. It’s not a very good one but it’s a spring-board and what the hell…
You need re-booting, a fresh challenge, something to give your creative sinews a workout. Many people view the sestina as too complicated, too much like hard work: but I know that I merely have to exert my powerful will over the shambling army of soulless meat-puppets (©anytimefrances) who serve at my pleasure and they will write sestinas…(please?).
Anyway, here’s mine and we all know you can do better than this:
Nor in their empty hearts to feel
The blood-red redness of the sun,
To shrink to an insensible,
– from On The Adequacy of Landscape by Wallace Stevens
Words are potent magic and reveal in all we say
The objects of our passion and our potential prey;
Crept up on and taken, alarmed in a way,
Yet fully expectant of this bloody day
When those inattentive have got hell to pay
And no time to run and no time to pray.
We wolves like our meat raw, fresh on the day;
Take down the sick and the weak; that’s the way
To keep the breed hardy; the dim and tardy must pay:
That is the contract between predator and prey:
No mercy, no weakness, no inclination to say:
Forgive us, Lord–bow down, let us pray.
Gone in the tooth? Or the mind? That’s the way
Of the world: every dog yclept wolf has its day;
Did you really think that no-one had to pay?
For what other end did we beg for and pray?
Express no regrets, for there’s nothing to say:
Resign, in your dotage: you are the fresh prey.
You’ve lived by the word: the right word, the right day;
You’ve said everything that you thought you must say;
Vain regrets: all the lies that you told for good pay;
All the weaklings you marked, singled out: easy prey;
Make my end quick, Lord, and that’s all that I pray:
A fast end, a clean end: the wolf’s chosen way.
The words have now faded: for what did you pray?
A fresh-beaten path? Some new-fangled way?
The way never changes and nor does the pay
Despite all the things we might wish for or say,
The price is the same at the end of the day:
You’ve slowed down; you’re low down: now you’re prey.
Rejoice in your strength at the start of the day;
Your senses are keen, eyes sharp for the prey;
Guard your words well and beware what you say;
Cover your head when you bow down to pray;
(Though God’s not the critic that you’ll have to pay)
Time, merciless editor, guards language’s way.
To anyone who cares for language, now’s time to say:
No more shall we stand off; no more: seize the day;
These words are no bagatelle, but sum of all our pay.