A sestina dedicated to my dad

[wp_ad_camp_1]

 

Welcome back, friends!

Today I am sharing a poem I wrote when I was about 16 years old. I wrote it as part of a homework assignment for one of my classes in high school (read more about my boarding school here).

This particular class was taught by Miss Brookes, a teacher who taught several literature and English courses in the school.

One of the things I appreciated about Miss Brookes is that she introduced us to various styles of writing that were totally new to us. In her class, we got lots of practice writing all types of poems. One of these is the sestina. Not sure what a sestina is? Not to worry! Wikipedia’s got us covered 🙂

sestina (Old Occitancledisat [klediˈzat]; also known as sestinesextinesextain) is a fixed verse form consisting of six stanzas of six lines each, normally followed by a three-line envoi. The words that end each line of the first stanza are used as line endings in each of the following stanzas, rotated in a set pattern.

Sestinas have a very strict pattern which follows this structure:

1 2 3 4 5 6
6 1 5 2 4 3
3 6 4 1 2 5
5 3 2 6 1 4
4 5 1 3 6 2
2 4 6 5 3 1
(6 2) (1 4) (5 3)

As I wrote this 17 years ago, I don’t remember a whole lot about my writing process. However, I do remember first looking at the poem’s structure and thinking that it would be an exciting challenge. I can only imagine that it must have been pretty difficult figuring out how to write anything whilst adhering to this super rigid structure.

 

[wp_ad_camp_2]

 

In any case, the poem I wrote is about my dad. He is someone who taught all of his kids the value of hard work. He embodies real grit, bigtime smarts, and some serious “stick-with-it’ness.” For as long as I can remember, he was up before the sun, and worked grueling hours 6 (sometimes 7) days a week. And at the end of a long day, he had the energy to play chess or checkers with his kids before falling asleep on the couch.

And all these years later, he’s still at it, EXACTLY the same as always! Going strong in his 70’s!

Dad, this one’s for you! 🙂

img-20170114-wa00241645461902.jpeg

__________________________________________________________

 

Entrepreneur, Provider, Disciplinarian; DAD.

He’s known for deep thoughts and great work –

Why does he have the motivation to work so hard?

How does he juggle work and those he loves?

The seconds at the factory do not readily turn to hours,

Nor do the hours flow quickly into a complete day.

 

Every morning before tackling the long day,

I hear the unique sound of my dad.

The morning has begun with quiet red hours,

But before my father rushes off to work,

He pats us on our backs and reminds us of his love.

I know that washing us grow up must be hard.

 

He eats a big breakfast to keep him going hard

Dad needs an extra boost to start his working day.

He works like this for honor and for love,

If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be a real dad.

The factory amazes and confuses me; how does it work?

It runs under dad and through every day’s hour.

 

My dad is tired, but it is not the resting hour.

He must not sleep, although exhaustion tries sohard

To overwhelm him. He must support his family through his work

And work is not limited to light hours of the day.

He’s tired… but wanting more than sleep – to be a good dad,

A father who supports his family with life and love.

 

He doesn’t show it like how the world thinks of love,

Like expensive presents or a few measly hours.

No, he’s not the typical, everyday dad.

I’m glad he’s not, although accepting this washard.

Maybe I’ll thank him for everything one day

And ask him to teach me his life’s work.

 

At the end of the day, as he arrives home from work,

He pats our back and declares again, his love.

I can tell from his face that it was a long day,

I can tell it’s been long from the time of the hour.

How does he go on after trying so hard?

I am so lucky to have him as my dad.

 

Still, he has the strength for checkers at this hour.

He always wins, but he pretends that it is hard.

What a lucky girl I am to have him as my dad.

 

____________________________________________________________

img-20170611-wa00021082925455.jpg

Have you checked out my other poems? Here is one on tragic love, and another one on scaling a mountain! Need more stories in your life? Here is one about a little cockroach!

Do you know how to play checkers or chess? What was your favorite class in high school or college? (Mine was 9th grade Biology with Mr. Schuit!)

 

[wp_ad_camp_3]

Advertisements

“Muna” – A short story

[wp_ad_camp_1]

 

Hi friends! Welcome back to another “Story Friday!”

This story is of a young girl named Muna. I wrote this when I was about 16. I was interested in exploring the character of a child who is surviving in a war-torn country, and caring for her brother.

————————————————–

MUNA

————————————————–

Muna clung to her tiny brother, Akmad, seeking, with all the power in her weakened arms to protect the tiny child from the horrors of their once-dear home country. She silently cursed her Albanian ancestry and the Serbs that sought to take everything from her people. Already, Muna had lost so much. Her mother, her father, her home, and worst of all, her pride. The Serbs had stripped her of everything but life itself, leaving her only eyes with which to weep. The baby, Akmad, flinched in her arms as a troop of Serbs flew past, arms raised and screaming their frightful battle cry.

The one short year since his birth had not hardened Akmad toward the terrible truths of the world. The child’s dark eyes harbored none of the haunting fear that his sister’s carried. He was a jovial toddler, a bouncing boy shielded by the blessing of ignorance. Muna wrapped her frail, depleted arms even tighter around the boy and willed the world to be at peace. In all her eleven years, she had yet to experience even one week without clashes and conflicts between the government, Serbs, or Muslims. Her dark, solemn eyes held a sober maturity that never failed to startle even the most lighthearted onlooker.

She rearranged the thin quilt around Akmad and gazed pensively from within the cramped alley. Muna grimly set her jaw and pushed down her loathing of her own country. She cradled the child as a mother would, and sidled cautiously down the filthy street in the heart of Kosovo, bracing herself against the icy wind. Now it was deathly silent; the raiders had moved on with the goods they had stolen from defenseless people and abandoned buildings.

Muna recoiled vaguely when her mysteriously dark eyes fell on a woman sprawled on the street. The woman’s hair was matted with fresh blood. It seemed on the exterior that Muna had merely glanced at the body and looked away, as her slight reaction was perceptible only in her tightened grip around her wriggling brother. Her face gave away none of the emotion she felt inside, but inwardly the sight of the red liquid brought memories catapulting from the past into her mind.

She was only ten years old when it happened.

Her mother had just put Muna and Akmad – who was but a tiny newborn – into their makeshift beds and sang them a song. The lullaby was both haltingly lovely and mournful. Muna’s mother had been an exquisite Albanian woman with dark, serious eyes, and her possessing smile radiated such peace that Muna knew her mother was the most beautiful woman in Yugoslavia.

A sudden knock shook the door. Muna’s mother ushered them out of bed and swiftly into the moldy attic, hastily imploring her two children to remain still and silently hidden until she returned for them. Her mother hurried to the door, knowing that it was not her husband on the other side.

He had been missing for two days, and the family had wordlessly understood that they would never see him again. Suddenly a pair of government officials burst into the room, demanding money and threatening death. When they saw that Muna’s mother had nothing to give, they assaulted her verbally, then physically. She had withstood the attack in firm silence, but Muna could sense her mother’s noiseless, tortured screams. She squeezed her eyes tightly shut and prayed to every god whose name she could recall. At last, two gunshots ripped through the bitter air and suddenly the faceless, nameless soldiers were gone.

Long moments had passed, and a stifling hot silence permeated the tiny apartment. Muna waited, terrified. She cradled her whimpering brother and straining to hear sounds of her mother’s footsteps. She silently counted to the highest number she knew, and when that was done, she repeated every verse of the Koran that she had ever been forced to memorize. At last, when the silence was too much to bear, she ventured out with Akmad in her arms.

It was then that she had found her mother. The body was naked and bleeding from two bullet wounds in the torso.

That had been a year ago.

Muna, scarred by the image of her mother’s lifeless face, had been driven to the streets a month later when she had no way to pay rent for the tiny apartment. No amount of begging or pleading could have persuaded the rigid landlord to allow them to stay, not even when she had beseeched him in shame from her knees. No money, no Albanians.

On the streets, Muna was subjected to the harsh conditions. Hunger, cold, abuse. As a result of her traumatic existence, she withdrew into the recesses of her mind, rarely speaking, and even rarer still, smiling.

Weeks and months passed. Muna grew less like her vivacious self, and more like the thousands of hopeless, lifeless beggars on the streets of Kosovo. She could not remember the last time she had eaten, for she always gave Akmad the scraps of food she was able to gather. As a result, her own body and health dwindled.

With a worried glance at the sky, she noted that the sun would die within the hour. A pale expression of fear flitted across gaunt features as she pondered the thought that confronted her daily. Where will we sleep tonight?

Muna hoisted her brother onto a thin hip and began the slow trek. She grimaced at the prospect of yet another night on a cold doorstep or between battered buildings. Muna rummaged aimlessly through a pile of rubbish, and came away with a half-eaten chipolata. One sniff of the cold sausage renewed her sharp pangs of hunger. She wiped it and placed it gingerly in Akmad’s little, grasping fingers.

She rubbed his heavily blanketed back as he wolfed it down noisily. A wave of guilt struck her as the child looked up expectantly, his tiny hand outstretched for more. She shook her head sadly and gave his ruddy cheek an affectionate kiss. Akmad squirmed in frustration, but accepted her maternal embrace. He wrapped his short arms around her neck.

The sun passed dejectedly over the horizon, sinking into the distant land of Bosnia. Muna settled awkwardly against a tree stump with Akmad nestled in her lap. She sat still and unmoving, waiting for the child to drift off to sleep. Her heart, though a mere shadow of what it once was, still longed with the same fervor for a better life. She stared after the sun’s bleeding rays and wished for the land beyond the horizon, where she could live free.

She knew that somewhere beyond the blazing orb lay a land called Montenegro, where Albanians were left at peace. Muna’s numbed mind stirred at the thought of liberation. Her frozen consciousness groped desperately for it. As the relief of sleep flooded her senses, Muna’s last thought was of Montenegro, where she would one day flee – one arm clutching Akmad, the other grasping freedom.

——————————————-

Check out my other stories & poems:

——————————————-

Have you wondered what life must be like for children living in war-torn countries? Can you imagine caring for a baby in such an environment? 

A story about a roach’s dinner

[wp_ad_camp_1]

 

Welcome to this week’s “Storytime Saturday.”

If you’re interested, you can also check out my previous installments: a poem called “The Knight’s Rose” and a poem about Mount. Kilimanjaro. 🙂

Today’s story is about a cockroach looking for dinner in a recently-cleaned kitchen. Now, I know most of us don’t like roaches. They are pests, ew! …which is why I thought it would be an interesting challenge to attempt to write her (the roach) in a way that didn’t villainize her.

———————————–

— The Roach’s Dinner — 

She skittered hastily across the glossy tiles in the darkened kitchen. Moonlight peeked through the window, reflecting softly off each tile and sparkling on her back.

She hopped with feline agility over the grout ditches between tiles, and quickly reached the edge of the floor where grout met cabinet. Her fleet feet transitioned neatly to the vertical wooden surface. Climbing came naturally, and with each strong pull, she ascended higher. At the top, she slipped easily onto the cool granite plateau.

A moment’s pause and sniff revealed that although a delicious aroma lingered in the air, her favorite foraging spot would not yield any crumbs tonight. Deducing that They must have cleaned the granite shortly before her arrival, she jogged to her left, heading for the smooth steel valley.

Due to steep and slippery inclines, it was risky to descend into the valley. However, the risk was necessary on nights when They cleaned. After peering carefully over the edge, she gingerly approach the edge, and skidded down. Haphazardly she fell, legs scrambling to regain footing on the wet, slippery surface.

At the bottom of the incline, she rolled nimbly and skidded to a quick stop. She paused to regain her bearings and wipe the wetness from her face.

A dark crevice loomed just steps away. She squinted into the deepness of the chasm, sniffing the air for hints of a meal. The scent of both fresh and decomposing food wafted enticingly up from the depths. Dinner at last.

With spry athleticism, she leaped from wet steel down to granulated rubber. Gripping the rough, rubbery surface, she crept lower still. One light hop, and she was inside the chasm, surrounded by inky darkness.

Balancing on a large metal blade, she paused once again to test the balance of fragrances swirling around her. Guided by her sharp senses, she located a soggy, delicious morsel, and quickly wolfed it down. Another tasty nugget quickly followed the first. And then another.

Once sated, she sighed. She turned to go, leaving the remaining particles for others in search of food.

She retraced her steps out of the depths and back onto the black rubber surface. She scaled the wet metal wall slowly and carefully, pulling herself upwards towards the granite. Upon the cool, bare granite, she cruised lightly, slowing only to position herself upright on the vertical wooden surface. She climbed downwards expertly, bounding onto the tile floor.

Moonlight glittered on her back as she cruised once again across the floor, back from where she came.

———————————–

She’s quite the little roach, isnt she?

We followed her as she scurried over the tiled floor, climbed up the wood cabinets, jogged across the granite countertop, slid into the steel sink, and jumped down the disposal!
There you have it! Just a roach looking for dinner. 🙂

Have you spotted any cockroaches recently? What did you have for dinner?  

The Knight’s Rose

[wp_ad_camp_1]

Having been inspired by Shakespeare’s “Love is not love / Which alters when it alteration finds” during my high school years, I became intrigued by the concept of true love.

Below is a piece in which I explore the tenacity of love through the story of two lovers who are separated not only by physical walls, but also by social status, the law, and ultimately death.

When I showed this poem to one of my teachers during high school, she remarked that it was rather tragic, as it features an innocent captive who is sentenced to death. I agree that there is a note of tragedy here, but I also think that love’s resilience, which is what I attempted to capture, is far from tragic, and is in itself rather optimistic.

 

 

The Knight’s Rose

Dawn Wairimu

2000

 

He came upon feet swift as falling rain,

Cloaked in a robe the color of the earth.

And through the misty midnight air he came

As dark and lithe, as swift as he was worth.

 

He reached the darkened window wherein lay

A sleepless maiden – waiting for this knight.

A simple slave, conditioned to obey,

Yet yearned her heart, for Passion Flames burned bright.

 

Rough work had made the simple slave’s hands rough,

But yet, upon his face her hand was smooth.

And though her arms were scarred and beat enough,

The gentleness he found in them could soothe.

 

Intrepid was the knight, yet so afraid…

For soon the slave would wrongly lose her head,

A scapegoat! Caught in so crime-filled a trade

That she would be the least among the dead.

 

And yet she knew although she’d have to die,

That through her death, she would be freed to live

Inside his heart, with ne’er a lonely sigh,

Able at last to fully herself give.

 

The Day of Death arrived upon swift feet,

And clothed in but a dirty, flea-filled sack,

The slave – against a pillar – tied and beat.

With growing welts upon her dainty back.

 

Her fervent eyes searched each face in the crowd

And found at last the Face that she loved best –

Her voice was silent, but her Love was loud,

And then, at last her tortured limbs found rest.

 

Bored with the scene, the crowds now moved away,

And soon the mournful knight stood all alone.

He knelt, and there remained to mourn and pray

Though prayers flowed with curses to the Throne.

 

Upon the rising of the silver moon

The grieving knight came forth from his black trance.

He rode toward the Starry Silver-Spoon

With him, she rode – o’er the earth’s expanse.

 

To starlit grove, romance cache; he came,

Still with her laden in his heart and arms.

In death, her lovely face was still the same,

Yet held in death far more enchanting charms.

 

And in the grave he buried her that night.

He would not quell the burning tears that flowed

And for his love, his heart blazed fervent white;

He placed upon the mound of earth; A Rose.

 

No matter if the day was bright or gray,

It mattered not if clouds were in the sky

For neither rain nor hail could bar the way.

The knight would come with brandished Rose held high.

 

And every year thereafter, he returned:

To place a Rose upon her treasured grave.

For till the day he died, the knight’s heart burned

With maddened love for his dear maiden brave.

 

And even now, although the knight is dead,

And though the world remembers not his woes,

He rises yearly from his earthen bed

To place upon his maiden’s grave; A Rose.