And that’s that. Fought the sestina to a draw, all 7 stanzas done. Looking at it, I think I may see a way to make it a better poem by rearranging the order of some stanzas. Be perfectly happy to twist the form for that result, so it might happen. If you care to examine its progression to this point, fill your boots: Day 1; Day 2; Day 3; Day 4; Day 5.
The Winter Wings of Gulls
When their wings of winter begin to drift, pile up,
turn the sky and the salt marshes’ blue pools white,
when their cries ache like late-January mornings deep
in joints, seep as north winds do through old cracks
to settle into bone, I can’t ignore how gulls turn
overhead, disconsolate, impatient, hungry all the time—
it’s the same ache that fastens all of us to time,
that stretches taut through our days, pulls us up
out of our beds in the night to pace, and turn
to sit stiff upright at screens with fingers white-
knuckled at keyboards while age’s incipient cracks
slowly chasm in our skin to sink our beauty deep.
When night comes you think gulls hide their deep
longing? Think they go silent under stars ticking time
away in photons as each core grows heavier, cracks
under its mass, implodes to a singularity or blows up
in scatters of gases and dust? Transcode cries to white
light that spirals away with the stars as they turn?
Lay with me under the ticking stars. Let’s try to turn
each other liquid, to grow languid and laugh deep
into the night. But we’ll fade towards sleep, dim white
apparitions; our thoughts nebulous, dusty with time
that settles like grit in our neurons and jams us up
with memories pitted by age, striated with cracks.
The gulls don’t care if winter frost’s snaps and cracks
leak from their bones and wings, or if each October turn
over the harbour brings the water closer to icing up.
They don’t care how far apart photons drift in the deep
spaces between stars where the tick tick of time
almost drowns in the hiss of hydrogen’s static white.
Look up at sunset, when the yellow sun stains the white
flight feathers, as they mewl over mussels dropped in cracks
between the rocks. What aches in them is hunger, the time
from one morsel to the next. They don’t call out to turn
our minds to winter, our bones to brittle ice held deep
in flesh. Don’t give a streak of shit how we gussy them up
in myth. But look up at sunset. The gulls are old. The white
feathers drifted down centuries. Their beaks are deep cracks
the days fall into as they turn in the sky, swallowing time.