Silence Sestina*
 
In what darkened, 
ragged, 
screaming
fire
does the kiss
of silence never

see? Or ever
darkly,
kisses
raged
evening fire
that loves while screaming?

In what screaming,
never
fired,
dark, 
hot ragged 
tropic does your kiss

descend to kiss
my scream:
ragged,
nev’r
silent, dark
burning yearning fire?

You rise to fire
my kiss
in dark
screams
that never
suffer your ragged,

silent, blunt rag-
ing fire;
never
kiss
my screaming
silent darkness?

In my forced silence, I can never kiss 
your ragged fire, your oblique passion, 
in the shared silence of our screaming dark.

c 2016 James Rovira
16 October 2016, Brookhaven, MS
IHOP

A note on form and sources: I’ve been reading Neil Gaiman’s Sandman vol. 3 lately — many thanks to @DWhiteDaniel for lending me his copies — and came across Gaiman’s creation of an author being driven mad by ideas in vol. 3 (trust me, the guy deserved it. But better than trusting me, buy a copy for yourself and see why). One of his ideas was a “sestina about silence, using the key words dark, ragged, never, screaming, fire, kiss.”

Since reading that, I wanted to try my hand at such a sestina. This is it. I also invented a consistent syllabic rotation for this one (somewhat arbitrarily 4-2-2-1-3-5), which I follow through stanzas 1-6. The envoi is written in blank verse. I got up ridiculously early this morning, couldn’t get back to sleep, and decided I’d rather do this than grading. Many thanks to IHOP in Brookhaven for its similarly ridiculous attempt at eggs benedict and for keeping the coffee coming.

I think the best tribute to any author is to say that he made you want to write.

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