Dark roses

October tiptoed so gently, coming with fall
kissing the apples to red, singeing the leaves
with scarlet and brown; in yellow she rose
me from sleep with foggy fingers poking me right
from my bed into bitterness rain; she made me a pile
of cotton and wool dancing her into the gale.

October came with widdershin winds, as a gale
shredding canopies, wrecking branches to fall
into havoc; in her wake leaving streets piled
up with rubble, pages torn from his books and leaves
tumbling and sticking to wetness of asphalt, but right
afterwards heaven just cleared and the shy moon rose.

October was the lofty light skies and the rose
clinging right at the edge of its living: it was a gale
of lightheaded laughter from a gaggle of girls right
outside the librarian’s window; now when it’s fall
he is apple cheeked, smiling and he leaves
the cobwebs and dust on pages he’s piled.

October is the lady (too loud) with hair in a pile
of seaweed wearing a corduroy smock and rose-
colored glasses collecting from maple leaves
shades of the summer that passed with a gale
and a sigh. She is end and beginning, the fall
from a blessing, a curse of always been right.

October is driving a bike, sharp turning right
at the edge of the cliff, hoping not ending up piled
up as debris left after the apple tree’s windfall;
She’s Ophelia’s corpse in stagnant water, the rose
left at his doorstep from a leftover lover. She’s a gale
of woodwind and drums, a presence that leaves.

October is a book he was reading turning the leaves,
but forgetting each word — the ultimate fright
of losing his sense, the whirlwind, the gale
in his bloodstream a book burning craze, his junkpile
of thoughts, the falsehood of demons who rose
claiming his thinking; she’s death and his downfall.

October is leaves on his grave, a book pile he left
(not read), his birthright to rise, a rose on his desk
the gale arriving at nightfall with boots on his feet.

Dark roses on light background by Henri Fantin-Latour

When you write a sestina you are never really ready, I feel I could polish this one for ever. But I post it for OLN at dVerse. I might polish it more before the pub is closed. Also linking up to Tuesday platform at toads

44 responses to “Dark roses

  1. A most wonderful sestina! I love the way you used October and describing how fall and death came. So many images in here: widdershin winds, his junkpile of thoughs, Ophelia in stagnant water…one of your best Bjorn.

  2. Soo much to love here 😀 but this line especially; “October was the lofty light skies and the rose clinging right at the edge of its living” took my breath away! ❤️

  3. “October is a book he was reading turning the leaves”…great line, so much in this poem, one to come back to and read again (and again).

  4. A commendable job, Bjorn. Sestina is quite a difficult form to tackle and your way with it is very smooth and natural — the word repetitions do not seem forced anywhere.

    The October imagery is resplendent here — it is like a kaleidoscopic view of different facets and moods with all of it coming together in the form of an epic tale. I especially loved the third stanza with its imagery and wordplay. 🙂

  5. Each line is such a joy to read and I admire the rhyming pattern of your verses. I love the character of October best in stanzas, 4 and 5. Your best work yet Bjorn!!!!

  6. Jaw-dropping gorgeous. I know nothing of the sestina, but is that part of the form? To repeat the words in puns and double entendres? It really works wonders to describe the gale we’re swept up in as readers.

    • The sestina is a form where you have to use the six end words that are recycled according to a permutation that is prescribed… then you reuse them in the last closing three liner as well… the challenge is to really use them in a way so you do not really notice them… I

  7. I have always loved the time of October. You further celebrated and elevated it. I am all the more impressed when I am reminded after reading some of the discussion regarding translations, that some of the DVerse poets are amazing us in a second language. Pretty cool.

  8. A wonderful personification of October tiptoeing, kissing and poking – excellent use of verbs. I love the sound and idea of ‘widdershin winds’ and the ‘rose / clinging right at the edge of its living’. So pleased to see you’ve given the librarian a cameo role in this poem, Bjorn!

  9. The storm hits again and again, tenderly disguised as quietude, transitions in life on the cusp and wake of Autumn. You regale us with the tales and faces of this constant change, balancing on This fulcrum of October, pushing us into long new seasons, and poignant forgetting. What is left when the traces of remembering are gone?

    “October is a book he was reading turning the leaves,
    but forgetting each word — the ultimate fright
    of losing his sense, the whirlwind, the gale
    in his bloodstream a book burning craze, his junkpile
    of thoughts, the falsehood of demons who rose
    claiming his thinking; she’s death and his downfall.”

    Maybe the kernel of being, it seems a resurrection of sorts “birthright to rise.”

    Sweet releaf. Polished and rhythmically toe tapping right down into the grave and above. Superb Bjorn!

  10. kaykuala

    Much happenings come October. Perhaps as a reaction to anticipate the cold months of limited activity.


  11. Oh my! This is splendid. So many wonderful phrases. . .but the total is wonderful. The rhythm is perfect, too, taking us through the winds and changes.
    I understand about the polishing though. Like Kerfe, I’m often changing things as I’m ready to post.

  12. An excellently “aged” sestina, Bjorn. Your October imagery offers plenty of “piles” and “leaves”. I’m sad at the librarian’s death but at least he “died with his boots on”.

  13. Very well done. Sestina is one of the most challenging forms there is (at least for me) and you have composed a beautiful one. I like your varied images here for October and the very last stands out for me.

  14. I wrote a sestina once for a class. It’s such an ambitious undertaking, I applaud any effort but yours seems near perfection to me. (I love the closing.) But to the poet, a poem is never done.

  15. I love the way this starts off with elements of sweetness and whimsy, then winds down to something darker. It reminded me a bit of a friend who died in October several years ago.

  16. I think you’ve done a great job with this – and the repetition of the October at the beginning of each stanza really helps anchor it; to be honest, having written my first and only sestina a few months back, I can appreciate how hard it is – so I applaud your efforts. I think you’ve really taken this and woven in several stories that seem to intersect and overlap – which makes it all the more complicated for your efforts, yes? I admit, I am intrigued and fascinated with each element/component – October as setting/scene – the “librarian (aged)” – the “woman companion” – and clearly, this is about their relationship, and reflections and musings, mostly from his perspective;
    to be honest, though, for as much as I appreciate the element of young girls outside the window and how this implies a younger love etc. and then the wonderful tension between the real relationship, I end up getting a bit muddled as I continue reading. For me, personally, I feel slightly overwhelmed with the depth and complexity of how much you’ve put into each stanza – which is no easy task. This being said, I do like most of them, each as they are – and I’ve had to sit with this for several readings to come to the fullness of the words.

    I think you’ve done a very remarkable job – exceptional really – and to be sure, yes, I do think you might want to tweak some of it; but after all you’ve done with it? I’d say, be proud of it – because it is a great story and complex for it’s form and beauty.

  17. Love all the life, voice and wonderful imagery you have given October. October certainly deserves ii and in my opinion this is wonderful just as it is! i LOVE it!!

  18. Oh my! October will never feel quite the same way. Your October is magic, whimsy, deep, beautiful and I could live in it forever.

  19. October’s description in the fourth stanza is so very sweet! I can tell you spent time on this – you should be proud!

  20. Wow, Bjorn. I got most of the way through this without realizing it’s a sestina… that is some skill right there. It’s so good, and October, yes, she is just like all of this. I can appreciate that you might want to tinker with this forever but it is really strong and evocative just as it is now. Cheers!

  21. This is a monumental piece of work, Bjorn. I did not even realize it was a sestina until I reached the end.
    Each stanza is so redolent with the mood of October.. I actually had goosebumps on my arms, so tactile is the imagery. Just a most wonderful reading experience.

  22. What an intricate style to adhere to. You crafted it well. I can’t imagine wrapping my head around a sestina… perhaps I will try one day.

  23. Pingback: Apples and wind | Björn Rudbergs writings·

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