Everything was dark.
The winds and rain told her it was stormy.
This promised to be a long and restless night.
Suddenly she heard a shot.
Like a bell it rang,
loud and clear, out.
She didn’t want to go out
into the dark
but then again it rang
in the gloom, stormy
with dread. The shot
only made it worse, this wretched night.
Why did she choose to work at night?
Was it for the money, or because she needed out
of a bad choice, a bad life, one that was shot
to the curb, trashed, leftover, dark
with misery and leftovers, stormy
mistakes and memories? Again it rang.
She’d lost track of how many times she heard it. Yet again it rang
deep in the summer night,
wrenched and wretched, stormy
and sullen. Now the lights went out
and all was dark.
Her hopes of seeing the gunman were shot.
Tonight reminded her of when her father was shot,
so long ago, a thousand miles away. Then too the sound rang
deep into the murky dark
on a wet night
drenched with fear. He too didn’t want to go out
into the dreaded yard, so stormy.
She had to go, stormy
or not, lights or not, fear or not. There was a shot
and she was paid to check it out.
Suddenly her phone rang.
It was the manager that night.
She could stay in. It was just the transformer going dark.
She was grateful in that stormy mess that her phone rang.
What sounded like a shot was only an accident of the night.
A transformer going out makes noises, and then all is dark.
This sestina is based on the famous opening lines from Snoopy. “It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly a shot rang out.” I chose six words that I felt I could work with, and inserted them into the form. Then I wrote the poem. Writing a sestina is a little backwards, because you know what is at the end of the lines instead of at the beginning. It is like having a destination but not knowing how you are going to get there.
Sestinas have a very exacting form. I encourage you to write one. They are always 39 lines, with six stanzas of six lines each, followed by a three line stanza. The final words of each line in each stanza are in this order – 123456. 615243. 364125. 532614. 451362. 246531. In this poem I used 1)dark, 2)stormy, 3)night 4)shot 5)rang 6)out.
The order of the three line stanza is 2_5, 4_3, and 6_1. The first of the two words can be anywhere in the line, but second word must be at the end.
Try to pick words that can be used multiple ways – as nouns or verbs, or adjectives.