Poetic Forms-The Sestina-Writing Prompt #6

We had fun with the acrostic form, specifically, the abecedarian.

I enjoyed reading your poems. Thanks to all who participated.

Shall we move onto something a bit more challenging? Another form that I enjoyed working with is The Sestina. It is a structured form using detailed repetitions. Mine emerged on a very snowy day. I dropped my car off for repairs and attempted to take a train home, but the train was delayed. Someone stepped in front of it, which happens from time to time in the Chicagoland area. While I didn’t see any evidence of the act, I was deeply upset. Trudging through the snow in an attempt to get home, I stumbled upon a quaint little tea shop. I stopped in for some tea and quiche and wrote my sestina, which was due in my creative writing class that week.

It is called…

Suzette’s Creamery

A broken car, a train wreck and one tragic soul

Today began my walk in the snow

I landed at Suzette’s Creamery Sweet

Chocolate croissants placed on crescents of lace

Black and white checks topped tables of marble

Dark roast creamy swirls, my lips pressed to china


Cups made from English bone, warmed my soul

Outside the train tracks despite the cold snow

She must have at home, her own yards of lace

Which draped the oak tables where she placed her china

The company she kept, her pastries of sweet

Unchangeable stone swirls carved in marble


A tragedy on the train tracks in the snow

I walked for miles I could walk to China

I soon found this shop with tables of lace

Behind the counter, the woman was sweet

Showed me to my table topped with cold marble

The pastry and coffee felt warm in my soul


The train today brought on the death of a soul

I learned this as I walked through the snow

My travels arrested at the shop full of lace

I dreamt of her place though none so sweet

As dainty the flowers growing wild by the marble

No more will she sip her tea from bone china


I could not imagine as I touched the topped marble

How she must have felt poor, poor soul

The loneliness and pain is not so sweet

As the checkered black and white tables with lace

While the clawed feet of the tables rusted in snow

The dainty of roses graced the saucers of china


I walked along the gravel tracks in the snow

I soon found the shop that served coffee in china

Creamed tarts of cherry, cream cheeses and sweet

Rounded dollops of sugar, whipped cream on lace

Outside the sirens screamed for her soul

Carefully placed her body on stone cold marble


Her soul frozen somewhere in snow

While I rested with sweets, china and cups

The tables adorned with lace and cold marble.

Susan Ward Trestrail

I have some instructions from poets.org.

The sestina follows a strict pattern of the repetition of the initial six end-words of the first stanza through the remaining five six-line stanzas, culminating in a three-line envoi. The lines may be of any length, though in its initial incarnation, the sestina followed a syllabic restriction. The form is as follows, where each numeral indicates the stanza position and the letters represent end-words:

7. (envoi) ECA or ACE (poets.org, para. 3)

This one is challenging, but as we all know, rules can be broken.

Try following the form strictly or using your own adaptation of the Sestina.

Any takers? This one isn’t for the faint of heart.

I can’t wait to see your Sestinas.



9 thoughts on “Poetic Forms-The Sestina-Writing Prompt #6

  1. Oh my gosh, this was hard. But I tried. So here, for my second ever poem, is …


    Don’t be fooled by how she cuddles.
    It only looks like she will purr.
    She won’t. She will however, chase wild creatures in her dreams.
    It doesn’t mean she loves me (and if she does she’ll never tell). It won’t be long before she pounces
    on my big toe—the most expensive toy with which she plays—
    before her plaintive meow will say, “It’s all about the food”.

    And while we’re on the subject, not any food
    will do. I can bribe her for the cuddles
    or pretend that as she plays
    she’s ready to reward me with The Purr.
    But don’t be fooled. She pounces
    on my expectations quite enough. Make no mistake, her love for me is only in my dreams.

    Though she twists and turns about my feet, her dreams
    are all about her treats. Most specifically the morsels of her food
    that she can chase. Down the stairs and up the stairs, then on the stairs she pounces.
    And afterwards, a stretch, a lick, a hambone curl and cuddles
    on the bed. Perchance she hints the silent rumble of a purr.
    But don’t be fooled. It is the joke she plays.

    In truth, she teases me alone. I am her folly while she plays.
    It happens many moments of the day. No, don’t be fooled. Her dreams
    are realized precisely when he steps into the room. It’s he who is rewarded with The Purr,
    whereas my purpose is again restricted to the food.
    When he arrives, she knows me not but cuddles
    on his lap. He scritches and romances and enchants until she pounces.

    Yes, he’s her love, her only love. At his request she pounces
    on the fingers that he wriggles and she plays
    with him, her friend. Her adoration as she cuddles
    is absolute, complete. She can’t be moved. She won’t be moved. She dreams
    of him. She sings for him, she lives for him—and food.
    And twice she has rewarded with The Purr.

    She loves him, there can be no doubt. But even still that purr
    remains inside. Perhaps she errs and lets it loose. With cries of joy he pounces.
    “Hear that?” he says, but no (of course). It’s no surprise I missed it. He coaxes with her food,
    he tries in vain to make her sing. She owns this game, she always has. We are the mice she plays.
    She twists and turns and donut-rolls, then tumbles into dreams
    behind his knees. And we contort to fit.

    This is the food that satisfies much more than her lost purr.
    Heart-songs held fast by cuddles. Capricious pounces
    of delight. We work at play, but don’t be fooled. This is the life of all my dreams.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love this Crystal! It’s like a short story, but with form. I love your ending.

      “This is the food that satisfies much more than her lost purr.
      Heart-songs held fast by cuddles. Capricious pounces
      of delight. We work at play, but don’t be fooled. This is the life of all my dreams.”

      I especially like how you used enjambment in your second line. Excellent!


      • Thank you. I had to look up enjambment…that’s partly why I enjoy these challenges! I tried to stick to the form, but the last line of my sixth stanza doesn’t. However, I decided I couldn’t make it work well. Thanks for the challenge!


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