Poem 6–Hold On To Your Butts

This next poem is something I have never even considered attempting before.  I wrote a sestina.  I may not ever do this again.  I’m not even going to lie about it.  The assignment was to write a sonnet or a sestina, and since I’ve written sonnets in the past, I went with the sestina.  You might want to grab a beverage for this one.


The Order Includes Both Extant and Extinct Species

She held the baby turtle in her hand,

leaving fingerprints over the shell’s braille.

The turtle, in response to the  potential conflict,

pulled in its limbs and prayed for water.

She held it close, knowing that her power

was false—it could have chosen to struggle


even as she could have chosen to struggle

against the insignificance of her own hand.

Life was the mouse that escaped the cat’s power

only to find itself tripping over the braille

of the mousetrap, pinned and begging for water.

In the place where death and life conflict,


what was the point, if not conflict

resolution, of a satisfactory end to the struggle?

The cacti will always plead for water,

spines held aloft like supplicating hands

that rise above the desert braille

with nothing to grasp against the flood’s flashing power.


But interference was outside her power

even as she orchestrated the conflict

of razor blade against skin, scribing braille

apologies to no one who could read them. Her struggle–

to not write more lines with a shaky hand

while watching the sink pool with blood soaked water.


She wondered if a drop of holy water

could infuse in her some divine power.

She held the droplet in her hand,

indistinguishable from tap, a conflict

she had no stake in, so felt no need to struggle

against her senses or the rosary beads raised like braille,


or gooseflesh raised like a braille

scripture, not from divinity but from rain water

laced with laudanum.  The haze is one less struggle

for the turtle to hide from.  It exercised its power

of avoidance until it couldn’t evade the conflict

anymore and shrank itself inside her hand.


She stroked the turtle’s braille and found the power

to place it near the water, end its conflict,

the futile struggle against her hand.


So, what do you think?  Should I attempt more sestinas in the future?


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