Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Shunpike Sestina

The troll-kid was only in kindergarten
(in troll years.) He’d be shunned
by my city’s schools, turned away with silky
smiles: “Come back when you turn six.”
No naps, no waking up with milk and Toll-
House cookies. More likely a Ritalin-spiked

cocktail. Toy soldiers, carrying pikes
and muskets, shattered all over the garden:
raising a changeling takes a high toll
on movables. A troll-child’s imagination
diagnosed as illness and cursed at least six
ways from Sunday; a tongue fatherly but not at all silken.

After that, Fairyland went down smooth as silk,
smooth as an Olympic high-platform half-pike
charming the judges into a perfect six.
But oh troll-muffin, it’s not all a garden
of delights. There are darknesses to shun,
bridges with no trolls may still have tolls

and you can have phantoms without a tollbooth.
That glamorous woman in carmine silk
has her own agenda, and she may shunt
you onto a byway where giant, toothy pike
devour minnows like you. No friendly gardener
to rescue you, petal. Every spawn of the sixth

day of creation needs food; any child of six
knows how to keep a pet, the toll
that feeding a rabbit takes on a garden,
a whole grove of mulberry devoured for one yard of silk.
So watch out for the Crab King’s pikemen,
beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

the frumious—ah, but I’ve shunted
into the wrong poem, my head stuffed with a stanza or six.
I couldn’t make it all the way up Pike’s
Peak, couldn’t pay the ski-lift toll
although the snow lay out like clean silk
sheets sloping down, down to the ice-garden.

In Pandemonium’s gardens, all the flowers are silk.
The Queen comes riding down the Sestina Shunpike
when the bells toll, at seventeen past six.

Don't ask me anything. Just buy these books and read them. That's all.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

No comments: