I don’t know how to write a sestina,
Not really, but already I know this:
“Sestina” is not the word you want
To end a line with. Seriously, look,
How many different ways can it be used?
I think I’m going to regret this choice.

And while we’re on the topic, how much choice
Is left once you’ve begun a sestina?
When every line must end with words you’ve used
Already, is there any art in this?
Check stanza one, line four. No, really: Look!
You see? It doesn’t matter what I want.

So, what’s the point? I guess, in part, I want
A challenge. Every day I make the choice
To keep this streak alive, which means I look
For topics everywhere. A sestina
Is harder than a sonnet, and if this
Does nothing else, it’s one more form I’ve used.

The brain, just like a muscle, must be used
With regularity unless you want
Your skills to atrophy, so think of this
As calisthenics or road work, your choice.
I’m sweating as I write this sestina,
And trust me, it is not a manly look.

Most “gimmick” forms don’t get a second look
From me (although I will admit I’ve used
My share of haikus), and a sestina
Requires more commitment than I want
To give most nights, but having made the choice
To try it out, I’m glad I tackled this.

As Billy Collins said, a verse like this
Can yield surprises. If it has to look
Or sound a certain way, the poet’s choice
Of words are thus constrained, yet those he’s used
Gain power in the process. If you want
Six bad-ass words, then write a sestina.

Is this the end already? I’m not used
To tercets. Do they look like this? I want
To not regret my choice…damned sestina.


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