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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back at the Bamboo Room

Congratulations to everyone who worked on the Bamboo Room sestina. We completed 6 stanzas. Personally, I’ve enjoyed the process and the result:

They met at the Bamboo Room;
there's no bamboo there, but plenty
of privacy, in the booth there
where smoky jazz tinged the air a translucent blue.
A guy could get lost in the dark
while fumbling for a last-chance breath,

her grass skirt rustling like when the wind breathes
as the guy gasps for air, give me room, room
to move, space to roam. She looks back, her eyes dark,
wide, an open field with plenty,
like a vast sea of ionic cobalt blue.
"These colors kill me," he says. She says, "There, there"--

and takes a drag from her cigarette. Their
lips meet. He savors the rum and the smoke on her breath,
recalling last-night's dream, somehow crystalized and blue.
"The color's different," she says, "in my room.
There's wine and sad music and plenty
to do." Her pink orchid lei smells like dark

blossoms opening, like night flames for Jeanne d'Arc
and he's burning, they're spinning, they're
adrift in blue oceans; mad, mad. But plenty
of heat. Fevered moans erupt in gasps of rhythmic breath;
for every bride, a groom, and every room
inside their bodies sings with music Coltrane blew.
He shakes his head, steals her cigarette, and says, "We blew
hard, baby, like a storm, like thunder crashing through the dark
like soul pirates," in his eyes betrayal of rheum.
Still blazing, she licks away his tear, melding their
...their what? Silence, then. Then only their breaths,
and the subtle whisper from the bass. That's plenty

of cool to heat two hearts, plenty
of fire, enough to singe the cold, white moon. Blue
are the scales he knows, blue the width and breadth
of his sadness, his knowing that this is the last time, that dark
notes will blue this melody, and their
song become an endless ache once they leave this room.

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Do we want to leave it as is or write a final 3-line stanza? Does it feel finished? Thoughts on a title?

2 comments:

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

So close, but it definitely needs the final tercet! The standard sestina would be three final lines, incorporating the words
there, breath (first line)
blue, room (second line)
plenty, dark (third line)

(where, breath, room, and dark are the end words).

--there are also alternate sestina variants that use the words in slightly different order (check google!)

This will take some thought--

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

We met in the Deep Cleveland reading; there's no Cleveland there (because it's held in Strongsville), but plenty of poets, in the bookstore there, where smoky poems tinged the air. A poet could get lost in the dark on the rainy highways trying to get there, but nevertheless there was a pretty good crowd for a Friday-night poetry reading.

And, since Shelley C. was there, along with all six of the named collaborators on the clevelandpoetics collaborative sestina were there (and, who knows? Maybe some of the anonymous ones, too!)-- we read the sestina as the capstone poem of the open mike.

=================
For the record books, here's the final sestina, including the concluding tercet:

They met at the Bamboo Room;
there's no bamboo there, but plenty
of privacy, in the booth there
where smoky jazz tinged the air a translucent blue.
A guy could get lost in the dark
while fumbling for a last-chance breath,

her grass skirt rustling like when the wind breathes
as the guy gasps for air, give me room, room
to move, space to roam. She looks back, her eyes dark,
wide, an open field with plenty,
like a vast sea of ionic cobalt blue.
"These colors kill me," he says. She says. "There, there"--

and takes a drag from her cigarette. Their
lips meet. He savors the rum and the smoke on her breath,
recalling last-night's dream, somehow crystalized and blue.
"The color's different," she says, "in my room.
There's wine and sad music and plenty
to do." Her pink orchid lei smells like dark

blossoms opening, like night flames for Jeanne d'Arc
and he's burning, they're spinning, they're
adrift in blue oceans; mad, mad. But plenty
of heat. Fevered moans erupt in gasps of rhythmic breath;
for every bride, a groom, and every room
inside their bodies sings with music Coltrane blew.

He shakes his head, steals her cigarette, and says "We blew
hard, baby, like a storm, like thunder crashing through the dark
like soul pirates," in his eyes betrayal of rheum.
Still blazing, she licks away his tear, melding their
...their what? Silence, then. Then only their breaths,
and the subtle whisper from the bass. That's plenty

of cool to heat two hearts, plenty
of fire, enough to singe the cold white moon. Blue
are the scales he knows, blue the width and breadth
of his sadness, his knowing that this is the last time, that dark
notes will blue this melody, and their
song become an endless ache once they leave this room.

There can never be room enough, he knows, not ever, but plenty
of emptiness there, as they vanish into the blue
shadows together, dancing to the dark beat of her breath.

Cited...

The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau