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Dot’s poetry corner

April 27, 2009

This week’s poetry stretch over at The Miss Rumphius Effect challenges us to write a tritina. A tritina is sort of a half-baked sestina. It’s the same idea, with the verses halved, so a substantially easier puzzle. Miss Rumphius explains the rules here. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of writing within a form. Here are a couple of quick attempts:

i. After the rain

Taut as a dart-strung bow
my son’s arm slices the air,
aiming beyond my sight.

Only his sharp sight
can see the shimmering bow,
a cloud-ship in midair,

hung from a light ribbon of air.
A suspended breath, a gasp, and the sight
shifts – Oh, despair! – as bow
bows, fades from air, our sight, and all but memory.


I listen to his breath
in the moment before sleep,
how it catches and falls,

sucks at lips and lashes, falls
lower still. From his chest, his breath
sinks. His tight fist relaxes into sleep.

There is no struggle: sleep
steals in, stumbles, and falls
headlong across his body, releasing his breath.

He breathes a sigh, or sighs a breath, as sleep at last falls into him.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2009 12:49 am

    this was well attempted !! made me understand it too 🙂 thanks !

  2. April 28, 2009 6:45 am

    I like the less obsessive tritina form–the sleep one came out particularly well, it seems to me. I might have to try one sometime, probably not in public.

  3. April 28, 2009 8:33 am

    I’ve never run across it before, but I like it. The sestina is a little too much of a puzzle for me. Although not as bad a pantoum. There are two things that seem to help with both tritina and sestina. One is choosing a subject that is about something repetitive or something on hold — I think that’s one of the reasons the second poem works better than the first here. The observation of a child falling asleep is a pause for the observer and a repetition of breathing for the sleeper. It doesn’t work as well for real action. At least not in my opinion. The other thing that helps is if one or two of the line-ending words you choose can be interpreted as either verbs or nouns — it gives you more flexibility.

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