Sestina

4:21:00 PM

Let's just get this out in the open, sharing poetry you've written can be a somewhat torturous experience. It's like giving somebody your journal, and then letting them keep it. Forever. So they're in your head, and they know what you think about things and they know how you feel about things and there's nothing you can do about that. And it's sort of horrifying, but you keep doing it, don't ask me why. This poem is one that I wrote a few semesters back in a creative writing class...it's a sestina (don't feel bad if you don't know what that means.) But basically, it's a super-structured poem in which you have to use the same 6 words at the end of each line in every stanza, you'll see what I mean. I don't really know where it came from but after I wrote this one I wrote like a million others because I loved that it made me think of a million different ways to use one word. It was also totally different than my typical 2 line poems. So that's that.

The Records & the Moon


It was a familiar place.
Mama put on the evening records,
The Righteous Brothers voices a faint whisper.
As soon as she entered the room she knew he wasn’t there.
Everyone will tell you but nobody knows,
She tried to forget that everyone was right

Mama sat on the green velvet couch; father would be to the right
He wasn’t there but instead a vacant place
She denied it and yet, everybody knows.
She tried to listen to the records,
She looked at me for a moment but her eyes weren’t there.
She tried to talk but her voice was a whisper;
Speak only well of others and you never need whisper.
The words stung my ears. She’s right.
The words lingered momentarily but couldn’t stay there;
There in that thick air, they needed a simpler place.
The words moved away from the tension and settled with vinyl records
And Mama pretended she didn’t know                

But father was sure she did; she knows, she knows
But she didn’t, all she remembered was the time the moon was a whisper
Lingering in the curtains and between empty sheets, she played Etta James records.
Every night Louis Armstrong sang Mama to sleep, nothing else felt right.
Mama started to wait for Daddy’s empty place,
She wanted to be alone there.

She looked at the empty sheets, he’s there.
Mama knows.
I do too, but I know that it’s not my place.
Mama sits alone in the church and listens to the whisper
It’s screaming “we were right.”
“I told you this would happen, just for the record.”

And again, Mama only has her records.
Daddy’s not here, he’s there.
He loves the other woman and he thinks that alright.
I watch Mama pretend she doesn’t know,
Then turn to Grandma and whisper,
“He doesn’t live here Ma, he knows it’s not his place”

So she’ll put on their records,                                                                                                               
He’ll get his own place, we’ll pretend not to know,

And she’ll whisper: It’s alright.




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2 comments

  1. Love it. You write like an angel.

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  2. Mallory. This is real good stuff. Beautiful beautiful.

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