So yesterday I posted a failed sestina. But what I didn’t realize was it could always get worse. My second try was so bad I named it “Take 2” and I haven’t even gone back to work on punctuation and capitalization. If you’ve ever read the children’s rhyme about the old lady who swallowed the fly, then the frog to eat the fly, then the cat to eat frog, well, that’s what Take 2 is like. I can post it here for fun. Shall I? Why not? This is all about learning, right?
let me tell you a secret
it’s beautiful like a rose
although filled with regret
you told me a lie
when we stood in the rain
but still I decided to stay
why should I stay
I dream of places so secret
and getting lost in the rain
until the sun’s rose
reveals that lie
you told without regret
I cannot help but regret
the decision I made to stay
even after I knew the lie
that you tried to keep secret
by handing me a rose
all covered with rain
here comes the rain
and it fills me with regret
that I can’t find a single rose
or a real reason to stay
but it’s still a secret
that you told me that lie
don’t we all tell a lie
when we stand in the rain
we keep it a secret
so that we won’t regret
but do we stay
or follow the compass rose
follow the direction of the rose
or choose. Instead. the lie
we never know unless we stay
if it will always rain
and that, I guess, is my regret
after all, it’s not a secret
if you regret the lie you told
come find me in the secret roses
where I stay, living in the rain
Truly awful. Sestina three is slightly better. I chose the words at random. I’m not sure why it’s a murder mystery/ghost story set in South Korea (okay, my fascination with Korean drama and K-pop probably influenced that), but it’s definitely better.
Meet me by the Han River
where no one looks like me.
But I’ll carry a yellow rose
and you can wear a white coat.
That’s where I can tell my tale
of love long lost and buried.
Meet me where seeds are buried
asleep on the banks of the river.
Are you sure you wish to hear my tale?
it’s really only about me.
There’s no real way to sugarcoat
or exchange my yellow for a red rose.
It’s been a while since I rose
from where they thought I was buried
and stood without dress or coat
at the edge of the Han River.
I’m not sure why you linger with me
just to hear this tired old tale.
They thought I’d never tell the tale
of how I was deceived by his rose
and how they tortured and murdered me,
dug a shallow grave and buried
me there on the frozen banks of the river
where ice had begun to freeze and coat.
I saw a beaver shake water off his coat
and I whispered him my sad tale
before he slipped back into the river.
It was winter then, there was no rose
of any color where I was buried
in this icy wasteland where they left me.
You say you’re only here to help me,
you in your beautiful white coat.
Do you know where the dead are buried?
Do you know how to tell my tale?
But we watched as the sun rose
above the banks of the Han River.
The same river where they buried me…
I can’t pin a rose on your white coat…
My tale ends here where I am buried.
So that’s where I am with sestinas. It is definitely not my favorite form I’ve tried, but it is the most challenging. I didn’t think it could get harder than villanelle, either! Will I continue writing them? Tune in tomorrow to find out. In the meantime:
A rose I found outside a Church kind of makes me believe in God. Photo and poems copyright 2023 Michelle Garren-Flye