Today at the dVerse Poets pub it’s Sestina time!

This complex form contains six stanzas, each with six lines and concludes with a three line envoi. The pattern of the form is as follows:
1. A,B,C,D,E,F
2. F,A,E,B,D,C
3. C,F,D,A,B,E
4. E,C,B,F,A,D
5. D,E,A,C,F,B
6. B,D,F, E,C,A
7. BE, DC, FA (The envoi of three lines with BDF midline and ECA as the end lines.) Note: The Poetry Foundation gives this variation on the envoi: FB, AD, EC.

She’s sick. Her nose starts to run

and bleed. Crackling leaves

fall out of the trees and spread

a carpet of scratchy brown

over her world. She hugs and rocks

herself; staring down at a street


that mocks her. A battered street

sign wobbles, ignored. Cars run

through it and punkls throw rocks

in its face. The sight leaves her numb: she is like the brown

dented sign. The paranoia begins to spread.


Flinching beneath her bed spread,

she tries to forget about her street

life; but a trembling finger traces the brown

stain on her pillow. Her senses run

wild: she hears the scrape of leaves

outside, and swears they are sharding rocks


into powder. Salivating, she rocks

hard and shivers, tasting the spread

of howling madness. She feels the dead leaves

scrawling her name on the street.

Her best pair of stockings have a run

in each leg, but her five inch brown


stilettos are brand new. Her brown,

shiny hair swirls at her waist. And she rocks

across the asphalt knowing the run

in her stocking will spread

up her thighs with each strut. Street

life agrees with her tonight. Damp leaves


cling to one spiked heel as she leaves

her corner with some john in a brown

Chrysler. An hour later the street

is forgotten as she shaves sparkling rocks

into lines of powder. The euphoric spread

whispers–daring her imagination to run


beyond itself; run shrieking through wild leaves

burning with psychosis. With arms spread like brown

broken branches, she soars to the rocks in the street.





Susan Marie Shuman/ Susan Writes Precise

22 thoughts

  1. I like how a brown vein runs through your sestina, Susan, and the way you paint a picture of the tragic life of your protagonist, who is most definitely on the rocks. I also like the way you played with ‘leaves’ and ‘rocks’.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I love the way this builds up and we are face to face with the character as she descends into that rocky vein of desperation and a life on the edge. Great, a very edgy and modern sestina with yes, the brown, leaves and failing threads on the rocks.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So dark, sad and stark, but the earthy brown sifts through the stanzas like sand residue, providing cohesion and stability. You touch on so much, opioid addiction, love for sale, loneliness, despair; nice job. Your tale was so well penned, I ask, “what form?”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so wonderfully dark, and the theme builds itself to the struggles of an addict living only for the highs of the drugs.

    I think there is a linebreak missing in the second stanza… there should be six lines not five, but I see that you endwords are there, so you just need a linebreak

    Liked by 1 person

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