I woke up in a closet.

Having sex with complicated forms.
February 19, 2008, 1:09 am
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The first time I heard a Sestina, it was Sestina: Bob, and it dulled the word so much that I wanted to slap people for saying “Bob” when referencing the poem afterwards. But, the poem was funny. At that time I didn’t have enough confidence to tackle the Sestina for an assignment (oh, the name is so pretty — I thought I would fuck it up — and the form is so easy to make cheesy) and it was optional so either way I’d be free. This year, I was forced to write a Sestina. They are hard. And in every lesson, Elizabeth Bishop’s Sestina is taught and makes you feel like you could never match something so bittersweet with such simple words. Last night I wrote a second Sestina and I liked the form. If I sit down and do something in an hour, I know the quality always sucks, but it’s done and it was fun to read.

Sestina 2/17/08

Twice a week, I make you eggs.
For each egg cooked, I give you an orgasm,
A favor you return within minutes
That leaves us both too exhausted
To wash the pans in the sink.
Plates are left crusted with breakfast.

Instead of dinner, I make you breakfast,
And by morning the drain is clogged by eggs.
Once I left the water on and it gushed out of the sink
While we were in the other room, reaching orgasm,
Ensuring the day’s exhaustion.
We slept for ten minutes,

Until water reached our room. For minutes
We toweled up the flood, and vowed that breakfast
Dishes would never be too much to exhaust
Us – no matter how dried-up the eggs,
Were, or how badly we wanted an orgasm.
But that never made morale sink.

Now our favorite place is next to the sink.
There, we go at it longer, about twenty minutes
More than usual, and you would not believe the orgasm!
It’s the kind that burns off breakfast
And makes us less guilty about the cholesterol in eggs.
I’m always washing dishes – that explains our exhaustion.

If we paced ourselves, we wouldn’t get so exhausted,
And we’d have a cleaner sink.
For a week, we went without buying eggs
And dish-washing took less than a minute,
But there was nothing to look forward to after breakfast,
Because without the eggs, there are no orgasms.

We realized we couldn’t live without orgasms
Even though for that week we weren’t so exhausted,
But why take the fun out of breakfast?
We just need to ignore the full sink
And take a few minutes
To make a new agreement regarding eggs.

The decision took a minute over breakfast:
As long as my eggs weren’t fertilized, the sink
Could stay full and orgasms could exhaust us.

And for the sake of comparison, here is the first Sestina I ever wrote. If you think “emo” or “desperate-never been-in-a-relationship-teenaged-girl” you’re wrong, but that’s the way I feel when I think about it.

Sestina 12/08/07

Alone, Samantha prays for sleep.
Awake, she remembers
That sleeplessness grows into anxiety.
Eyes closed, she waits
For dreams, but she imagines Aaron beside her, listening
To her slow breathing patterns.

In the dark, patterns
Emerge of a swirling sky asleep.
In her bed, Samantha tries not to listen
To a form of Aaron she remembers:
His voice through a phone line as he’d wait
For her silent replies that signaled she was asleep, free of anxiety.

Her parents believed the right blend cured her anxiety,
But she spilled bottles and lapsed back into an abnormal pattern.
Aaron had fled, though she begged him to wait.
Night without his voice kept her mind from sleep
And made her body remember
How her own pulse rose as she’d listen

To his blood-flow. She had listened,
Her ear to his chest, anxiety
Absolved, and she’d pray he’d remember
Not to leave for a prettier girl — the usual teenaged dating pattern.
Sometimes, until he fell asleep,
She’d wait –

No one else was patient enough to wait –
So she could listen
To his joints twitch when he fell asleep.
His warm exhales on her face melted anxiety.
Alone she counts sheep that leap over fences in patterns
Then stumble past her eyes carrying what she remembers:

At midnight, Aaron used to enter through her window. Remember,
She’d say, Until they are asleep we must quietly wait.
They’d make a single shadow-pattern
On the wall as they clasped each other’s mouths mute from the listeners
In the next room, the sufferers of parental anxiety.

Samantha’s sleeping patterns were shot, but just to remember
Aaron in her bed made dreams replace sleep. Awake, she still waits,
And listens for the twitch of his joints. The silence gridlocks her anxiety.


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