This poem previously appeared in Small Pond

How to Write a Sestina

The idea is to use only simple words
To end each of your six required lines.
Allowing you to get the most use from them.
For instance, use multi-purpose words like 'body'
And avoid one-function ones like 'braggadocio'
That are used to, say, block on third and long.

Remember that a sestina is overly long --
Six time six lines is a lot of words.
You're going to need all your braggadocio
To get through this. There will be lines
And wrinkles all over your poet's body.
And every day you'll see more of them.

Hey, two stanzas! Just need four more of them.
Plus an envoi. Which is only half as long.
We can do this as well as anybody.
Humming along though we know the words.
We're pleasing our readers but the bottom line's
Where we have to profit from braggadocio.

By now we know how to spell 'braggadocio'
And 'sestina' -- good Italian words like them
Will help you get in a few good lines
At your next cocktail party, jumping headlong
Into witty conversation with your new-found words
That are guaranteed to impress somebody.

You need a healthy mind in a healthy body
Unless, of course, you're Felix Braggadocio,
A man of brute strength and few words.
I'm a nose tackle, he says, who needs them?
But professional football careers are not long
Especially playing in the defensive lines.

Completing this won't keep you out of the bread lines.
(Poetry has never nourished the body.)
But that's the short run -- in the long,
Command of the language, a little braggadocio
And a flair for the obvious makes you one of them,
The movers and the shakers. Mark my words.

Well, there's thirty-six lines of braggadocio.
I think we need an anti-body for them.
Something long on wit and short on words.

Edmund Conti has had recent poems at Sticks Press, The Hypertexts, Folly as well as in interview with Orson Welles. Most of the lurid details can be found by googling Edmund Conti. But if you are going to do that, why not just google Billy Collins?

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