#SampleSunday – Sestina and SAGE

I’ve put up the Prologue and Chapter 1 of my forthcoming Hydra Publications release, SAGE: Book 1 – The Fall of Onagros.

But wait! That’s not all!

Here is one of two sestinas I’ve written. I wrote one and swore I’d never write another one, but damn if I didn’t. This was written when our #4 daughter was in high school. It was a tough time all around, but I got a poem out of it, so….

Oh, the McGraw Hill Online Learning Center says this about sestinas:

A poem of thirty-nine lines and written in iambic pentameter. Its six-line stanza repeat in an intricate and prescribed order the final word in each of the first six lines. After the sixth stanza, there is a three-line envoi, which uses the six repeating words, two per line.

I ain’t sayin’ it’s good, I’m just sayin’ I wrote it.

Hell in a Small, Closed Circle
by Marian Allen, Copyright 1998

Tomorrow's Sunday.  First, I go to Mass,
then take my daughter to a college fair, 
then bring her home in time to meet her friends 
to play some Shadowrun--a role-play game.
they're playing here tomorrow, in her room
upstairs, and she can hardly wait till then.

I had kids home in high school now and then,
sometimes a few, sometimes a pallid mass
of artsy types.  My mother left the room
so we would feel more comfortable.  Fair
and cool, we thought.  But I am not so game
and don't quite like to disappear.  Her friends--

the Shadowrunners--all her gamer friends--
are boys.  That would have been a scandal then.
She says that times have changed, but does the game
of male and female change? or does the mass
accretion of biology, the fair
(or is it carnival?) of culture leave no room

for off-screen girl-boy friendship? leave no room
for me to blandly host this pod of friends?
I really like these kids!  It isn't fair
of God to send her such neat friends and then
boost my maternal fears to such a mass
of mental anguish over just a game.

Sometimes I wonder if it's just a game
with her--this entertaining in her room
of boys, to see how agonized a mass
of panic she can cultivate.  Her friends
and she could stay downstairs and play.  But then
I wouldn't worry.  Is she being fair

to me?  And is suspicion being fair
to her and to the kids?  They want to game
and nothing else.  ...But what was wrong back then
is still wrong.  Isn't it?  She says her room
is not a "bed" room, just a room.  Her friends
won't think a thing about it.  So this mass

invades tomorrow, then up to her room.
I will be fair and let her play her game
upstairs with friends.  But first, I go to Mass.

Moms, can I get an “AMEN”?

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Two people disagree about what’s safe/appropriate in a situation they’ve both experienced under different circumstances.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “#SampleSunday – Sestina and SAGE

  1. Jane

    September 3, 2012 at 10:50am

    Back when I went to church as a kid, the line of policy was that girls cannot swim in the pool at the same time as the boys. i.e., Yes: boys and girls cannot swim together!

    This was a prohibition of such evident whimsy as to have contributed to my serious lack of respect for most other notions of religious behavior (as espoused by said church). Fortunately, it was the 1950’s, and I had already absorbed by osmosis a fairly workable set of inhibitions and so was suitable to be released upon society without having to become a menace OR going straight to hell.

    Ah, the good old days….

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      September 3, 2012 at 6:03pm

      Mothers of pubescent girls get crazy. I admit it. It pains me, but I admit it.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Holly Jahangiri

    September 3, 2012 at 6:13pm

    This reminds me of writing the villanelle from H*ll… Well done, Marian, well done. Now try a villanelle. It makes sonnets and sestinas look… easy. These forms are like word games – the trick is to make them look halfway NATURAL. I’d say you did a great job with this.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      September 3, 2012 at 10:24pm

      I thank you, Holly. Hmmm….No, no, it’s almost 10:30pm. Much too late for a challenge. ~yawn~

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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