Day 15: Happy National Poetry Month?

Today, I fail.

Well, it was yesterday, really. I flopped. Hard. While looking for a poetry prompt to write about, I came across these very interesting ones. (I’m totally not blaming the prompt here, but my lack of skill.) One of them was to write a sestina, a form I’ve never tried before. Several others included the normal “write a poem with these words in it” along with a list of words. One of these was “fire, spice, burn, chill, tangled”. I loved those words. (Note the past tense.)

Welp, I decided I was going to write a sestina using those words (plus one I chose) as the end ones for the six lines of the six verses a sestina is made up of. Easy, right?

A word of advice for would-be writers of sestinas (although who does that to themselves these days—besides me?): read a few sestinas first before wading into the fray. Sestinas are madness. Not only do they use the same six words at the ends of the lines for all six verses, these words have to be in a particular order. It’s like the Mad Hatter designed a poem.

But some people can make it work so elegantly! I read some sestinas after I wrote my hot mess. The good ones are beautiful and tell a story you’ll love listening to. I looked at my mess and laughed.

Part of the secret of sestinas, I believe, is to choose the right words. I haven’t quite figured out what words those are yet, lol, but I’m going to try to write a sestina with these words for tomorrow: secret, rose, regret, lie, stay. I chose these words myself, so I can’t lay the blame on anyone else tomorrow!

Anyway, if you want to wade your way through my hot mess, check it out:


By Michelle Garren-Flye


I want to run away from the chill,

find a way to add some spice

to the ice that holds back the burn.

Each moment I become more tangled—

break to gaze at a tarnished star—

and race headlong into the fire.


I feel it in your touch, this fire

that may at last unfreeze the chill.

I’ve wandered too far from my Star

living this life without spice

in this web of lies so tangled.

Let’s just watch it all burn.


Why say chill out when I want to burn?

Of course, the heat is hottest in the fire

but maybe it will loosen what’s tangled.

Let me leave the web that chills.

It’s not impossible to live without spice

but you’ll never make to the stars.


Are tears enough to add spice

when you find yourself all tangled

and there’s no one around to start a fire

to light the way—a nearby star

may guide you but it will not burn

and you’ll feel the wind’s chill.


Hot and cold become entangled

and the light of the distant star—

so hot when it leaves home may chill

as it crosses space, loses its burn.

Banish me into the fire

sweetened with ginger and spice!


Essential to life is warm spice;

in the scents you can be tangled.

The smoke will lead you to fire—

a flame in my heart like a star.

Take a moment to watch it burn

then return to the everyday chill.


A tangle of herbs may produce spice

to add a burn to dispel the chill

but nothing matches the fire of a star.

Today I fail. Tomorrow I rise. Photo and poem copyright 2023 Michelle Garren-Flye.

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