Sestina

A sestina is a particular poetic structure based on six stanzas of six lines concluded by a tercet. The same six words in permuted order end each line of each stanza. It’s a challenging form to compose, and I’ve been wanting to try my hand at it for a while now. Here goes…

Worry is a worm eating me inside
As I endure this storm of emotion
That threatens to overwhelm my senses.
I cannot concentrate: my churning mind
Refuses to obey my need for calm.
I try to find some refuge in routine.

Like a straw to a drowning man, routine
Offers slender hope. It’s only inside
The familiar sequence I find calm,
A brief lull. Overload of emotion
Breaks like waves on the wall within my mind,
That guards my fragile hold on my senses.

My fear, like a hound tracing spoor, senses
Its quarry: any break in my routine
Will bring it swiftly in to grip my mind
In its cruel jaws. I watch from inside,
Not daring to rest in case emotion
Spills over the dam, shattering my calm.

I must maintain my air of inner calm,
And not let fear overwhelm my senses.
To shut down and give in to emotion
Is not a choice in times far from routine.
Unable to withdraw to the inside
Because there is another I must mind.

With love for my wife strengthening my mind
I battle my demons, retain my calm.
No sign on my face of the fight inside
As I maintain control of my senses,
Cocooned in the comfort of my routine,
Sheltered from raw power of emotion.

That’s not to say I feel no emotion:
Its echoes still impinge upon my mind.
But had I not the bedrock of routine
On which to build my citadel of calm,
Then fear would undermine and my senses
Would overload and I would break inside.

Strength lies in routine, or else emotion
Can build up inside, overwhelm my mind.
I fight to stay calm, control my senses.

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