A sestina is an Italian poetic form consisting of six stanzas with six lines each plus a three line envoi at the end. The last word of each sentence, the teleutons, are repeated in a specific order, and the envoi contains all six teleutons in a specific order. The format is abcdef, faebdc, cfdabe, ecbfad, deacfb, bdfeca, envoi: be dc fa. In other words, sestinas are a pain in the ass.
I wrote my first sestinas in college and hoped I would never have to write another one again. But Doug challenged me to write one from the perspective of Godzilla, and here it is. You should read his (from the perspective of King Kong), it’s dope. Anyway, I thought I would focus on how Godzilla was originally created by the Japanese as a horrific symbol of nuclear holocaust. Hence the references to Fat Man, Little Boy, the Enola Gay, etc. My teleutons for the poem are: a – create b – tail/tale/tell/told c – here/hear d – fireballs e – listen/listen f- drop
Under the ocean where I was created
in a womb of dancing atoms, a tectonic tale
is breaking the skin of sea floor. Dreams burn here:
lava flows underwater like bleeding fireballs,
sunless sleep disturbed as they listened
for the sound of the nightmares they dropped.
Fat Man and the Little Boy drop,
like two suns tumbling, sent to destroy creation,
no one will be left alive to listen
for the lessons we need to learn from this tale,
just a skyline made of a blossoming fireball
and a symphony of silenced screams horrible beyond hearing.
So I’m born, a radiating thunder lizard, here
to crush American Dreams as my footfalls drop
like apocalypse, and from my lips a chorus of fireballs
razes all that you have created
like runaway rays of sun, my tail
too large to fit in your streets, listen
to see if your superheroes will sing if no one listens,
their words so tired that no one hears,
flag colored costumes useless in this tale.
Look at the sky for God, for an answer, to see if black rain drops,
to see this towering monster created
by the heat of a million rabid fireballs
unleashed on a people turned to ash by the fire, balled
fists and screams evaporated while history listens.
I loom, people scramble in my jagged eclipse, the penumbra I created
is shaped like the ghost of the Enola Gay flying across the moon. Here,
I will illuminate your whispered crimes as the indigo of night drops
before your story is fully told.
Children will sleep trembling under my tail,
the threat of my story like a guillotine of fireballs,
a sharp string of ghastly stars waiting to drop
because even before this lesson, they should have listened,
before we came to this, they should have heard,
they should have known what would be created.
I speak english in this tale, but they don’t listen,
so I speak in fireballs, the language they hear,
the nightmare they dropped, the monster they created.