Ouliposter-Badge-Plum-300x300This will be one of your most challenging Oulipost prompts! A sestina is a poetic form of six six-line stanzas. The end-words of the lines of each stanza repeat those of the first, but in a differing order that in each successive stanza follows the permutation: 615243. The entire sequence of end words is thus: 123456; 615243; 364125; 532614; 451362; 246531. All words and phrases must be sourced from your newspaper text.

THANK YOU, DOUG LUMAN! Doug’s sestina tool made this much simpler, though still quite the challenge. Choosing the six end words, no matter how good they seem, can still cause a few headaches by the time SIX stanzas are accomplished.  I had not aimed for making sense, in some cases calling for superlong lines to accommodate and in several places it is touch and go, especially in the envoi.

Easter eggs

Easter eggs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is what I ended up with, still in time to go shopping for special treat once-a-year Easter eggs from the local cheese/chocolate/fudge shop.




The Sestina

Zoo Variations

The Land of a Thousand Hills, this pocket-sized country,
Rwanda rolls across the heights of central Africa,
misted landscape of contoured fields and hidden valleys.
Deep in the humid heart of the continent,
genocide against a million people killed, horrific days seared in memory
beautiful and tragic, 100 horrific days’ history.

The way CIA analysts once examined history,
the hallmarks of the prime minister of this country:
this secrecy taken further than his predecessors’ memory.
He doesn’t talk to Africa,
an environment he couldn’t explain once exposed on this continent,
the sleazy way the game is played in the big leagues in Canadian valleys.

Along the watersheds of Nile and Congo valleys,
though a tale of despair may be its history,
rainforests are home to endangered mountain gorillas of the continent,
they live in several far-flung groups amid nettles country.
Eastern Rwanda a stark, different Africa
spring-loaded impalas, bar-code arrangements of zebras, a savannah scrubland memory.

Mountain gorillas, Rwanda

Mountain gorillas, Rwanda (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The government has not yet shaken off the miasma of sleaze- memory.
Politics is by its nature secretive valleys,
a forest so thick it looks like crosshatched Africa.
At dusk, the chatter and cry of lawyers and senators, it is wise to be suspicious of history.
The way our legal system is set up in this country?
No way that should be legal on this continent!

Panda diplomacy on this continent:
cherry-blossom tourists’ memory,
quarry out in their “habitat” country,
pandas’ playground of brown grass and leafless trees, valleys
two corpulent and charismatic hostages, heedless of our cooing history,
the new mother seated Buddha-like, chomping on bamboo from Africa.

English: 0

English: 0 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Her cub, plump as a dumpling, fast asleep in the crook of a tree from Africa.
The baby takes a bus to Beijing on the Chinese continent,
selling the vile jabberwocky history:
65,000,000 unnatural deaths under Chinese Communism says a memory.
Execution sites should not be located around tourist area valleys,
the zoo an arcade of inhumanity seasoned in country.

I am the only visitor to this country.
Everyone else is at the zoo valleys.
What is the meaning of change? Memory?


CAS April 19, 2014

You will find other sestinas for today posted at the Oulipost blog here: http://www.foundpoetryreview.com/category/oulipost/

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This constraint is also known as Beautiful Inlaw.

Select a name from one of your newspaper articles, famous or not. Compose a poem using only words that can be made from the letters in that person’s name. For example, if you selected “John Travolta,” you may only use words that can be made from the letters A, J, H, L, N, O, R, T and V.

The use of web-based tools is highly encouraged to help uncover different words that can be made from your letters of choice. One tool you might consider is the Scrabble Word Finder.

Having struggled earlier on with trying to lipogram words into a poem without using any vowel but U, my eye was caught immediately by a name of the sports page, Craig Anderson, who plays goal for the Ottawa Senators. However, two articles later I still ended up with a very short poem.  So many nice words that wanted a “T”  or a “G”. I wasn’t left with very many “meaty” words, due  to the constraint of selecting from the newspaper, of course.  Few of the wonderful words Scrabble Word Finder provided were included. I used Doug Luman’s lipogram generator, as I have had problems with the various tools including his beau present, but the lipogram provided me with a usable base, all I had to do was eliminate the straggler words that didn’t fit my selected letters.

English: Spartacat, official mascot of the Ott...

English: Spartacat, official mascot of the Ottawa Senators. Note that the picture has been cropped from original. Français : Spartacat, macotte officielle des Sénateurs d’Ottawa. L’image a été recadrée à partir de l’originale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is the list of words I was able to use:

Craig car Canadian came ion can can can Consider can rear road round Red Red received received remain rain right rear road round Red Red received received rain a and and and and and an a and a and a a and a and a and and a and As a and a a and and are a a a a and a and and a and and and and and an a and a and a a and a and a and and a and As a and a a and and are a a a a and a and and and in in In in in is is in I is I I I is I ice in in in a and and and and and an a and a and a a and a and a need no no need no do do do one one end rear road Red Red received received rear road round Red Red received received season see season so so season second season said season said season said season s ions said ion season says s season season said on order on on need no need no no

second article: is son, a in an in in and and son, red and
s is a as in 1,000 in a 27 in residence
’s is and noses as and 35 cries. One . dance, a 21-


The resulting poem:

Second Season Canadian Can-Can

Consider Canadian second season rain
round craigs, on rear roads.

Ice can remain in residence
on 1000 red noses,

in 35 cries,
and as one dance.

Carol A. Stephen
April 8, 2014


Ice Storm, Carleton PlaceSOURCES:

  • Warren, Ken, Anderson tries to look ahead, not back at the lost season Ottawa Citizen, April 8, 2014, (B1)
  • Rayner, Gordon, Prince George begins his royal duty in New Zealand, Ottawa Citizen April 8 print edition (A6 from UK Telegraph story)


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Perec-300x300Today’s prompt is a short one, although not without its own measure of complexity!


Compose a poem whose words — or at least the principal ones — all begin with the same letter. The words must be sourced from your newspaper.

I again decided to split my poem, using 5 letters, one per stanza, to create a poem built of 5 tautograms.  The title?  Black Sabbath will appear in Ottawa on April 13, 2014, which just happens to be my birthday.




Birmingham band, British born Breed:
Butler, Brad, Bill. Broke boys,
bruises, bumps beers.
Black beyond big
built on British Beatles blues
and beyond.


One original, Ozzy Osbourne.
Often out,
only one of Original,
often out.


Surprising success.
Singer stuff started:
stage show, something simpler
strings, soul, slang.
Stones style.
Strangled, smashed stage so surprising.


Police, pubs, parties,
pot, paranoid,
Play, playing, played.


Rare rockers reunited,
rhythm, rock revived,
realize respect.


Black Sabbath on stage at Schleyerhalle in Stu...

Black Sabbath on stage at Schleyerhalle in Stuttgart, Germany. “Reunion Tour”. From left to right: Geezer Butler, Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


  • Robb, Peter Black Sabbath keeps it simple, Ottawa Citizen print edition Apr. 5, 2014 (F1, F4)

And much thanks to the Oulipost Project and Found Poetry Review’s #Doug Luman, for his text tools which help so much to make these efforts possible .

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