Prompt: Write a sestina and/or a poem about the sestina form.
Kipling did it, Pound did it,
half the poets around did it –
but let’s not try doing it,
let’s not write sestinas.
John Ashbery did it, Elizabeth Bishop did it,
Dante, Petrarch and Philip Sidney did it.
But why should I do it?
I don’t like sestinas!
(However I did it, and here's the result:)
Mothers and Sons
The neighbour’s been out drinking tonight.
Now he is home, yelling at his mother.
My husband wants to call the police
but I hear her standing up for herself.
As far as we know he’s not violent.
It’s an old grudge from when he was a child.
I know what it’s like. I have a child
who used to drink late into the night,
sometimes barely restraining his violent
rage against me, the evil mother
who lied to him and even to herself –
or so he believed, becoming my thought police.
He’s the one I can never please,
although he was a sweet and loving child
and we thought had sufficient love for himself
also, but now his moods can be dark as night.
I’ve been in the place of that other mother.
Her son’s yelling is a kind of violence.
And violence unfortunately begets violence.
In my case I almost had to police
my reactions, remind myself I was a mother
and this loud, hard man was once the child
who used to cry himself to sleep at night
after his dog died. My neighbour herself
has told me a similar story. She says herself
that her son has a soft and a dark side. He’s a shy violet
when he hasn’t been drinking. But Wednesday night
is his night at the Club. The local police
drink there too off duty, he’s often chilled
with them before coming home to yell at his mother.
Was I indeed a very bad mother?
I suppose we all wonder that about ourselves.
Isn’t it the parent’s fault when something ails the child?
I remember him broken-hearted, sobbing violently.
Now he never says sorry, he never says please.
I’m reminded of all that, as I listen tonight.
He is the child for whom I’m a failed mother,
and I’m hearing tonight a woman like myself
abused violently by a son she can’t please.
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