April 1, 2015

NPM 2015 - April 1 - Sandra Beasley

 For National Poetry Month this year, I've decided to post a poem each day this month by a poet born after 1965 ...so, in the last 50 years. The chances of having someone from 1995 onwards (i.e. a published poet less than 20 years old!) are low but regardless, 50 years sounds like a good round number. The reason to do this is that I've mostly read poetry by poets who were born before the end of World War II and a few from the 1950s and so I thought I'll focus on younger poets from the last 50 years and familiarize myself with some more contemporary poets.

So, for today then, is a poem by Sandra Beasley, an American poet and non-fiction writer, who, per wikipedia, was born in 1980. And yes - many contemporary poets have websites, blogs, and twitter accounts! ;-)

For a poem for today, here's a sestina*  by her, via the Verse Daily website.

Sestina Inviting My Sister to Become a Pirate 
by Sandra Beasley
We wake to breakfast in a burning house,
Mom cussing. Our eggs have embers in them.
Fly the black flag on this family again.
I'll wear the eye patch, you will thread a ring
through your ear. Now, let us head out to sea.
Let all the Atlantic try to douse us.
You have to remember that they love us.
Burying a hatchet's harder than razing a house,
and raising a child is hardest. The sea
can lift bottle, barrel, ship. But for them
to keep this marriage afloat will take ring
and pulley that could raise Atlantis again,
with God shouldering the rope. Once again,
pegleg life is better balanced for us.
Parents? We'll take parrots. Choose a skull ring
set with rubies, grog-soaked night-jigging, house
boys to swab the deck. Fellow mates. To them,
it's clear we were always meant for the sea.
Monsoons, I know. We could go down at sea.
Captains blue- and black-bearded, drunk again,
might mutter that we're just wenches to them,
prod us with swords. But I'd rather see us
walk a plank than back into this damn house.
So what if Dad has lost his wedding ring?
So what that his story has a familiar ring?
Oh, my darling buccaneer, don't you see?
Burying a hatchet's easier than burying a house,
burying a treasure easier again—
all the same day's worth of digging to us.
If their smiles glitter like doubloons, let them.
But then lock the chest tight. We can love them
in the leaving, as galleons love moorings
of harbors they may yet come home to. But for us,
for now, no X can compete with the sea,
cross-stitching white caps again and again.
I believe a dank cabin beats a house
ablaze. I believe we can beat them, that the sea
offers vows sacred as rings. I won't ask again.
Join us. I'll wait in a rowboat, by the lighthouse.

Copyright © 2005 Sandra Beasley All rights reserved
from Cimarron Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

You can also read two great blog posts by her about sestinas here and here.

*  A sestina is "a fixed verse form consisting of six stanzas of six lines each, normally followed by a three-line envoi. The words that end each line of the first stanza are used as line endings in each of the following stanzas, rotated in a set pattern. 
The invention of the form is usually attributed to 12th-century troubadour Arnaut Daniel; after spreading to continental Europe, it first appeared in English in 1579, though sestinas were rarely written in Britain until the end of the 19th century. It remains a popular poetic form, and many continue to be written by contemporary poets."

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