The tattooed man struck her as ominous
When she first saw him naked. But his face,
Wet from the pool, seemed open as his hands.
She scanned him for that quality that glows
From inside, and believed it there. His blue
Eyes didn’t hurt. She watched close for what moves.
Beauty seems a firm first basis, and moves
us in lieu of facts. Some call this ominous.
Nonetheless, her mood would shift the lights to blue
If she should pass a day without his face
Turned to hers. Anything that hums and glows
Needs tending. Soon this duty filled his hands.
He’d always had some task to suit his hands,
But he was used to wood, not clay that moves.
He’d shape her in ways that, sometimes, glow
And sometimes throw a shadow, ominous.
He’d read few books, and could not read her face.
He’d babble with no clue till his turned blue.
Her righteousness bewildered him. Soon blue
Became the shade of all his days. His hands
Strayed to more pliant subjects. Soon his face
Spoke fluently to her, and she made moves
That anyone could read as ominous.
Still he was startled, flushed with rage that glows.
Some men can’t see what, to some others, glows,
She found a substitute to light her blue
Flame, who bore a resemblance ominous
That she did not see. She fit in his hands.
Meanwhile, her “old man” wondered if his moves
Had failed him. With age, pain showed in his face.
Things occurred to him – hard for a man to face.
His inked skin was a warning sign that glows.
At his age, he could not count on old moves
That long ago could turn her music blue.
He had a problem in his empty hands.
The situation seemed quite ominous.
Ominous indeed. We see just the face
We first find in our hands. Eyes open, glow
Blue – we believe their light. And then time moves.
-- © 2009 by Jack Veasey
All rights reserved. This work may not be duplicated or reproduced in any way without the author's written permission.
The above poem is a sestina. It's probably the hardest poetry form, and I've made several failed attempts to write one over my thirty-some years as a poet. This is the first one that's worked.
The form uses six words to end its lines, which in this case are "ominous," "face," "hands," "glows," blue," and "moves." The first six stanzas each have six lines, and the end words fall into a prescribed pattern -- for instance, the last end word in each stanza becomes the first end word in the next. All six end words then appear in their original order in the final three-line stanza. Then you down six shots of Jim Beam, scream into a pillow for six minutes, and hibernate for six months. (Just kidding!)
When it works, you have a hypnotic, beautiful poem. But you have to be REALLY careful to pick six words that bear that much repeating.