battlefields: a sestina

For years I’ve been stymied by fear
there is so often a suffocating dread
following like a cloud at my heels
It’s all those little battlefields
I carry in spite of my aching back
agony burns my shoulders with a weight

I feel pain now controls my fate
every thought has now become drear
a once strong body now gone slack
waiting for each new doubt to spread
randomly across these bloody battlefields
hampered by mud beneath chariot wheels

this unknown enemy dogging my heels
bears down with ever increasing weight
I struggle over countless battlefields
eyes constantly rain tear after tear
not apt to lessen this feeling of dread
no way is found to hold emotions back

another wave of panic tortures my back
sends waves of despair down to my heels
shaking a spirit already crushed by dread
I feel lost beneath this black weight
will I ever be able to overcome this fear
that invades all my personal battlefields

that invades all worldwide battlefields
making it impossible to turn back
even were I able to face my fear
doubt would forever shadow my heels
even were I able to bear this weight
there would come another to dread

much like butter smeared on my bread
a necessary part of all battlefields
this foreboding, ever present weight
like a searing flame on my bloody back
what little courage I once had spills
away as I feel each new spasm of fear

should I dare turn back to face this fear
beneath this weight that keeps dread
on my heels across endless battlefields

JOURNEY : a sestina

drawn by something I can barely feel
brought to me on an unexpected breeze
was little more than a whimsical stray
tossed upon my senses from a western sea
that set my course as I began this journey
led upon my path by that fleeting caress

what a fool I am to be led by a soft caress
must I always be pulled apart by what I feel
is this going to be another fruitless journey
whose end becomes as elusive as that breeze
I hope has truly come from that western sea
I push on afraid something will make me stray

yet from this course I cannot walk away
even should I never again know her caress
forever looking toward that forgotten sea
my ship is tossed about on its uneven keel
struggling to stay on course as waves tease
my senses trying to interfere with this journey

that could very well be my final journey
dreaming again to hold one I could never betray
begging just one more chance to try and please
hoping against hope to taste another brief caress
from those lips I am yearning again to feel
whose memory pull me towards this mournful sea

that for years untold has been just an empty sea
not worthy of being a focal point of any journey
I struggle toward my goal not letting how I feel
cause me to dread what happens should I stray
struggling at times to hold fast that last caress
that awakens this sudden desire to squeeze

out those bitter particles carried by that breeze
bringing tears to eyes fearful of what they see
as I realize there has been a change in this caress
that has been my fateful guide on this journey
afraid something should cause me to delay
aching to express exactly what it is I feel

as I near the end of my journey I can imagine I feel
a different caress from that now brutal breeze
bringing its bitter spray in from that western sea

crying lines: a sestina

I must needs write this sestina
wasting countless reams of paper
scratching out aching words to find
my way to carry forward on this journey
a simple vessel that should never impede
these crying lines inked ‘specially for you

senseless sentences directed towards you
I struggle while writing yet another sestina
refusing to yield to thoughts that impede
my vagrant scratching across this paper
setting out heedlessly upon this journey
that takes me ever towards what I find

I must have in order to finally find
that gift of gifts ‘specially for you
if it is to be found along this journey
that will ever hold me through my sestina
a timeless pursuit of words upon paper
thoughts on top of thoughts impede

while yet I refuse to let them impede
my progress toward what I hope to find
with each drop blotted from this paper
bearing these lines inked especially to you
lines that have compelled writing this sestina
should we ever embark upon this journey

that may some day become our final journey
together should nothing ever dare impede
these words as they slowly form my sestina
allowing at long last to finally find
those lines I’ve been trying to give you
they’re in my heart not on this paper

words that must never land on paper
I look forward to sharing this journey
I tremble while scrawling these lines to you
hoping against all odds nothing can impede
my desire to achieve that end I find
I must needs write yet another sestina

lest faded paper should your trek impede
this fruitless journey it seems that to find
what I’ve written you must read this sestina


If someone could ever develop a plan
that could help make man’s burden light
what cost would it set on the price of freedom
would there be enough balance to keep
those with stronger wills from laying claim
to what the weaker need to pay their passage

While upon the road of life the passage
of time has no mercy and waits for no plan
to evolve that teaches man never to claim
more than his worth to the promise of light
at the end of a tunnel which should ever keep
one from reaching toward his freedom

Stupidity often makes things other than freedom
worth much more so man takes a darker passage
forever dreaming his puny efforts will keep
him ever pointed toward this unheard of plan
hoping it will never be brought to light
that his greed makes him willing to claim

more than he needs while to many having a claim
to fame becomes more valuable than any freedom
while many have drifted so far from this light
that a miserable existence marks their passage
through a life where they never become able to plan
far enough ahead to do more than earn their keep

Often it comes to mind that I should never keep
such bitter thoughts towards those who claim
a higher station in life whereas the type of plan
they follow only leads to a loss of the freedom
they will always need to assure that their passage
through life keeps them moving toward that light

It has never been my goal to make light
of the quality of life so many others keep
but I feel that it will make my own passage
more bearable if I make no further claim
on life than that of ever seeking my freedom
wish that I should be the one to design this plan

Much wealth could I claim with such a plan
but since there is no passage beyond that light
it is only my freedom I would wish to keep


At last an early morning light
comes to share labor with this cold wind
that has struggled all night without peace
or relief of this fear that tends to weigh
on me. No physical battle is so hard to face
as this internal struggle that is needed to keep

a grasp on sanity. The only way I can keep
going is by constantly trying to make light
of my demise. All stays hidden behind my face
as it receives with resignation this dreaded wind
from unknown regions that blows on all in its way.
Never will I be allowed to enjoy a moments peace

as long as my soul is taken away one piece
at a time. There will be no other to pay my keep.
Unthinkable obstacles constantly bar my way
making uncertain my journey toward the light.
A journey made harder by a suddenly fickle wind
whose change becomes one more pain to face.

Although nothing is to be seen upon my face
each gloomy hour that passes tears another piece
from my tattered spirit and tosses it to the wind.
I know not when my end will come. Should I keep
struggling, struggling to reach that so distant light?
Hoping against all odds that it will let me weigh

what little good I have done along my miserable way
against the chilling bitterness of this end I face.
Not so much as a struggling memory brings to light
any hope that I will ever attain that elusive peace
which teases me with just enough promise to keep
me moving forward against this ever colder wind.

As I stand beaten before this bitter wind
I realize that I am not alone upon this way.
Countless others before and after come to keep
this final appointment that all must face
I begin to understand how I may receive the peace
that is shown to me by that ever growing light.

. and I turn to face that brilliant light
wishing that I might keep from this fateful wind
that brings the final peace. All must pass this way.



An empty feeling lies in the pit of my stomach
so very like the tenderness of a bruise
that is left by the stabbing of a knife
I want to flee with nowhere to go
held in this dreadful place by the fear
that I am about to lose all that I love

I cannot be certain it was this shattered love
that left the fires of hell here in my stomach
while being slowly consumed by this fear
that brings so much pain. No trace of a bruise
can be seen yet it is there every time I go
inside my head to try and escape this bloody knife

that has pierced my soul in a way no real knife
can do. I don’t know what it takes to keep this love
from breaking me. I stay knowing I should go
but that is a choice I am not able to stomach
my insides are like a cauldron where bitterness brews
over a fire that is fueled by nothing more than fear

my life has been a constant battle with fear
an agonizing pain as intense as a twisting knife
that with each passing day leaves a new bruise
on my tattered spirit. A distorted love
has filled my life with a bitterness hard to stomach
all the signs are telling me I need to go

that is something I know I should do yet my ego
keeps me ever fighting back against this fear
that has built a home deep inside my stomach
it would be better if I could take that dreaded knife
and sever those strings that this hopeless love
has bound me with so a healing of that bruise

could come to this place where those sour brews
sap the strength I will need to make myself go
will not be easy to give up all semblance of love
more difficult still is always living with a fear
that one day soon I will reach for that knife
try to erase this pain that dwells in my stomach

I hold a knot of fear deep in my stomach
where this bitter love has left its violent bruise
it is plain to see that knife really needs to go

..Jerry Marks 1999