Poet and nonfiction writer in Washington, D.C.
Be on the lookout for THE INCREDIBLE SESTINA ANTHOLOGY, edited by Daniel Nester and to be published by Write Bloody Publishing in fall 2013–featuring two of my sestinas.
“The sestina has everything to do with whether or not you can get said what you thought you wanted to say, as you find out what it is you can say….A hundred sestinas must die, so that one may live.” - James Cummins
In Fall 2008 Black Warrior Review published “The Robot Issue” (Volume 35, Issue 1), which featured the chapbook Bitch and Brew: Sestinas. Verse Daily featured “The Platypus Speaks” in January 2009, and the BWR staff nominated “The First Editor of Encyclopedia Britannica Regrets Everything” for a Pushcart Prize.
“Secrets of Small Machines” has since been featured by the online journal REDUX (”Work Worth a Second Run”).
Curious about this persnickety form? Wikipedia explains it all
From Bitch and Brew:
It’s trombones gone wild here, all croak and brew,
all flamingo in the girl’s shaking hands
as she strokes the brass-tubed neck, drains the spit,
strangling the bird as she follows her cue
into Sewanee’s chapel. It’s true I
have no part in this, simply cutting through
the bushes—not realizing I’ve cut through
their green room, forty young musicians brewing
on the sidewalk with caffeinated eyes.
A girl builds xylophones bone by bone, hands
fitting steel like ribs on a barbeque.
It’s an all-girl band, all polish and spit,
girls adjusting black, forgiving skirts, spit-
slicking hairs strayed from ponytails, and through
the crowd I see one bounce tubas on cue
to each hip, twin babes begging her to brew
the milk, their fat curves wiggling in her hands.
Some nights song refuses to be song; I
can only think it beast, or meal, or eye-
formed occupance, or eggs laid in the spit
of Dizzy’s mouth until grown out of hand,
a hatch of big song pushing his skin through
the cheekbone’s taut limit. I sip the brew
from my Solo cup and watch the girls queue
up with sweaty instruments for their cue.
Tonight, song refuses to be song. I
head to the writer’s house—all chips, dip, brew,
all swapping smokes in lieu of swapping spit—
all players playing After this, I’m through.
And one man with a guitar in his hands—
one woman, gin and tonic in her hands,
her lost lyric—his body giving cue
after cue, vamp after vamp, waiting through
her hemmed silence. Her eyes meeting his eyes,
traveling the calm paved road of him. Spit
once for luck, twice for spite, thrice for the brew
of hands. No song tonight. Only games I
know, sharking cues to my pockets. Well, spit.
Get over it, girl, get through. Bitch and brew.
* * *
Looking for more?
Some earlier thoughts on sestinas on the “Chicks Dig Poetry” blog
A sestina-driven complaint over at the Linebreak blog
“Sestina Inviting My Sister to Become a Pirate,” first published in Cimarron Review and featured by Verse Daily on July 9, 2005
A poetic installment of Modern Alice at TRIP CITY, “Hunger (A Sextina),” published in April 2012