Sestina: Example and Form

It’s not about peanut butter, but here is an example of a sestina. I wrote this poem a couple of years ago:

Wasps In Fact

I know the facts of the story.
I was there as witness, of course
and more than that, one of the saved
during the slaying of the wasps.
My father played the hero role
armed with a spray can and ladder.

Not sturdy, it shook, the ladder
as he climbed to the top story.
I never questioned my dad’s role,
the labor of knocking off course
any homesteading plans of wasps,
nor doubted if I would be saved.

The nest was enormous; he saved
it, carried it down the ladder,
proof that the multitudes of wasps
matched the large claims of his story.
The stings he received in the course
of battle also served this role.

He insisted they played no role
in making him sick, the stings, saved
that blame for the flu cutting course
through the city. That the ladder
needed fixing fit the story
well, too, but not illness from wasps.

Now it falls to me, fighting wasps.
My children have filled my old role.
I saw right through my dad’s story
long ago. The spin he used saved
his ego I thought. The ladder
held steady later on, of course.

Raising children has been a course
in hindsight relating to wasps
and the sturdiness of ladders.
Less a character trait than role
requirement, dad’s bravado saved
us from fear; that’s now my story.

Over the course of time, the role
of wasps did not change; also saved:
the ladder’s part in the story. 


I’ve seen variations on the form, but they all involved using 39 lines and repeating the same six end words. I took my guidance from The Book of Forms by Lewis Turco. 

You can read more about the sestina here:

Author: thedamari

I live in Missouri, a more beautiful place than many realize. I love writing, reading, walking, bicycling, and making lists. I’ve written poetry since I was seven. A few years ago I branched out into short fiction and memoir pieces. I also perpetually have a novel in progress. My brain pursues ideas at a brisk pace, wandering all over the map. This blog represents one of my efforts to keep up with it.

One thought on “Sestina: Example and Form”

  1. I look forward to learning more about sestina. I like the word. May play with it. Thanks so much for the recent likes. Nice to see you here in the blogosphere. : )


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