Cowardly Sestina by Chris Bullard

This is the poem I wanted to write:
My poem that shares the pain –
A poem naked to the teeth
Walking like a shaman through fire.
This is the poem that bares it all.
This is the poem that shows another face.

Yet, why remark on the pox on your face?
Ugliness is ugly to write
And people despise a know-it-all.
So shouldn’t I hold back some of the pain
And not throw more gas on the fire?
What’s the point of a knock in the teeth?

A smile is a better way of baring your teeth
When meeting someone face-to-face.
If I allowed my words to strike fire,
The flames might leave me nothing to write.
There’s so much pain in taking such pains.
Everyone’s bored with tell-it-alls.

Consider how little I’d gain, after all,
If I started gnashing my teeth
And howling like a beast in pain.
Remember Prometheus chained on a rock face.
Complaints were all he could write
And people forgot how he had given them fire.

People claim there’s comfort in fire.
But low lighting is more flattering for us all.
Those thoughts that dog me when I try to write
I’d rather not deal with their teeth.
There’s much that I’d rather not face.
It’s best to smother my pain.

So this is the poem that holds in the pain.
This is the poem I’ll consign to the fire.
This is the poem that puts on a good face.
This is the poem that glosses it all.
This is the poem that’s lost most its teeth.
This is the poem anyone could write.


Better to not let pain show in my face.
Better to not write about the troublesome fire.
My eyes will show nothing at all. I’ll cage my words in my teeth.

© 2016 Chris Bullard


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Chris Bullard is a native of Jacksonville, FL. He lives in Collingswood, NJ. He received his B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and his M.F.A. from Wilkes University. Kattywompus Press published his third chapbook, Dear Leatherface, in January of 2014 and WordTech Editions published his second full-length book, Grand Canyon, in 2015. His work has appeared in publications such as 32 Poems, Rattle, Pleiades, River Styx and Nimrod.


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