This was my first real attempt at writing a sestina. I have tried once before, but found myself too restricted by the form. This time, I adapted a poem that I’d previously written into a loose sestina – and I think that it has been more successful. I have been less rigid with structure, perhaps, but I felt that it suited the context of the poem. I have written about a woman who I grew close to when I was volunteering at a care home.
“How’re you feeling today? It’s been an awful long time.”
yes yes its been a long time since
my husband died in that car crash out to sea
i wonder have you
seen my nephew i so like to be clean 
“What nephew? Do you have a nephew, joanne?
You’ve never mentioned a nephew, joanne.”
why of course i have a nephew its time
for him to curl up right under that clean
rug i have nomummynodaddynobrothersnorsisters but since
i gave birth to my little nephew hes been curled up under that clean rug “Do you
mean sons, joanne?” no i havent any sons they drowned themselves see
like puppies in my bathwater one spring day by the sea
so i havent any sons but i have a little daughter and you “Me, joanne?”
are my daughter and you are getting married “Me, joanne?” yes you
you silly billy milly and ill make you roast potatoes once ive time
to clean this whole room up spick and span thats my plan since
i have nothing else to do “joanne is your leg any better?” oh a clean 
leg why i have two have you seen my fluffy new socks theyre ever so clean
and smart i do like to be clean “joanne, your seat
is wet.” oh no my darling dear my seat could never be wet since
it wouldnt be clean and i do so like to be clean “Oh, joanne.”
could you be a darling dear and get my son for me its time
to see him before he jumps off of the ship again you
know “Oh joanne, oh joanne, don’t raise your
top like that – everybody’s watching and your clean
nephew can see from under the mat.” dont worry darling theres time
dear, clean daughter, no one even knows im here you see
no one knows when i came or when i left and “Oh, joanne.” 
i left a long long time ago for a walk in the sunshine since
Eva who slips me Digestives and Darjeeling left since
then ive been screaming hellos at this clean warmth and youd
think it were a mortuary and me and i joanne
who is beside herself in a clean
mortuary i need to wash in the sea
you see theres no time Eva dear no time no time
joanne hasnt been there since she got new socks no joanne
hasnt been to see that clean place where my nephew drowned you see
i need time off to go to the sea, need time away from the mortuary oh need time
For those who are trapped in clean mortuaries

5 thoughts on “joanne”

  1. Pingback: Joanne - Ascerblog
  2. Good job!
    Honestly, I’ve given up on sestinas ages ago. As much as I love the idea, it’s made with French in mind, and it works beautifully in French and kinda meh with any other language.
    Anyways, I loved it, great job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I agree. I don’t think it comes as naturally to English. I noticed that the poem I’d written was repetitive anyway, and thought that it might lend itself better to the form – but I think that I’ll stick to free verse from
      now on. 😄

      Liked by 1 person

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