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Trenta Sei

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Explore the Craft of Writing
American Verse

Trenta-sei, (Italian = 36), is a modern day verse form that appears to have taken its cue from the Sestina and the Villanelle. "Like the Sestina it is a strong pattern not likely to get lost in the language of the poem" Miller Williams, Patterns of Poetry. To me it seems less rigid than the other two verse forms. The rotating repetition of lines from the first stanza brings a little feel of the Villanelle but the repetition is less obvious.  It is important that each line of the first stanza is strong enough to lead the subsequent stanzas. It is written as if the first stanza is tumbling down onto the top of a stream of stanzas that follow.  The Trenta-sei was created by a 20th century American Poet, John Ciardi.

The elements of theTrenta-sei are:

  1. narrative verse, it tells a story.
  2. usually written as accentual verse (the rhythm of today's speech) with 5 stressed syllables per line
  3. stanzaic, composed of 6 sixains, 36 lines total.
  4. rhymed, with the rhyme scheme of a heroic sestet, aB1A1B2C1C2 / B1dbdee / A1fafgg / B2hbhii / C1jcjkk / C2lclmm
  5. composed with each line (with the exception of L1) of the first stanza taking its turn as the first line of the following stanzas..

    Game Six, a trenta sei by Judi Van Gorder 10-26-02 written while watching the game unfold.

    Bonds at bat, Rodrigues paws the mound,
    no outs, one strike, two balls, two more and a walk?
    Excited fans react with thunder stick sound
    the summer sport disciples have come to gawk.
    Illusive is the rocky road to fame,
    a national favorite, World Series game.

    No outs, one strike, two balls, two more and a walk?
    It's the top of the sixth, no runners on base
    he swings with quickening speed and powers the rock
    I watch the ball soar high out into space,
    he has done it again and jogs home to his fate;
    his place in history, he won't abdicate.

    Excited fans react with thunder stick sound,
    with rattle slap and clatter, the roar won't stop.
    The noise so loud it rumbles and shakes the ground,
    a stampede of horses thundering clippity-clop.
    LA fans wave their mascot monkey on a stick.
    If the Giants win those Angels will be sick!

    The summer sport disciples have come to gawk
    enjoying beer and hot dogs passing around
    while spectators cheer, others in shock.
    It's the thrill of the place, the faithful expound,
    intensity builds increasing the sound in the din
    Come on San Francisco bring home that big win.

    Illusive is the rocky road to fame,
    team in red at home and now down one.
    My guys on the road with rally monkeys to tame;
    a hit, the Angels scored, now this is no fun.
    The top of the ninth, can we pull this one through?
    My stomach in knots like I just got the flu.

    A national favorite, World Series game,
    "strike three" he shouts--and number six is done,
    tomorrow will tell if dreams go up in flame.
    Another nine innings and the best team has won,
    we'll call them the champs and have a parade.
    I'm praying the Giants will make the grade.

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On a Starless Night 

The stars hid their light that chilly night,
 a lone snap of a twig broke the silence
 and her lithe body froze prepared for flight.
 She'd hid him in the brush beside the fence,
 obedient he lay in shrouded allusion
 waiting her return to end his seclusion 

A lone snap of a twig broke the silence
a soft stirring in the grass across the field
warned of a stalker's malignant pretense.
A bobcat crouched low using the dark as a shield,
the fur on his back bristled with intent
he lifted a searching nose to catch the scent.

Her lithe body froze prepared for flight
to lead the danger away from the nest
but if the need arose she'd stay and fight,
a mother's heart beats inside her breast.
Earlier she'd left to hide the older twin
within the forest deep with discipline.

She left the younger in brush beside the fence.
too weak at birth, he could not travel far.
Into the twilight he was closeted in self defense
in the frigid cold of the night without a star.
The bleating of the fawn betrays his fear
response from Mama says "I'm near"

Obedient he lay in shrouded allusion,
the doe deftly lunged at the lone threat.
With a snarl the cat snapped back in confusion
relentless thrashing razor hooves he met 
he finally turned and ran to avoid the fury
through the meadow bloodied and weary.

Waiting her return to end his seclusion
he awkwardly claimed his legs and stood
then took stronger steps to conclusion
She looked him over as a mother would,
a few more steps then she led the way
to where she came at the dawning of the day.

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