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Paint chip sestina

This week the Paint Chip poetry challenge from Linda Kruschke is to write a sestina. Do visit her blog for more information, her poem and links to the other participants’ poems.


The paint chip words and phrases you have to work with, in the order in which I pulled them randomly from the deck, are antique lace, sawdust, field of poppies, gold medal, safety orange, pinot noir, and the blues. Some of these might actually work well as end-words for your sestina. I managed to use one as such.

Linda Kruschke

Remembrance and memories

I sometimes wonder about family values.
My mother’s claim to fame as a student nurse
Was winning (in her final exams) a gold medal.
Dad fought in World War Two. No field of poppies
For him. Instead capture and farming to feed
The foe, while waiting for release and victory.

For me, not to lose my temper was a victory.
School rules instilled in pupils worthwhile values.
At home we grew vegetables and fruit to feed
Ourselves. If we became ill, Mum could nurse
Us back to health, without recourse to drugs from poppies.
Her devotion and self-sacrifice deserved a medal.

Through service Dad gained more than one wartime medal.
He had been repatriated after the allies’ victory.
Anemones were his gift to Mum rather than poppies.
Availability affected prices and hence flowers’ values.
It was after the war that Mum trained to nurse,
Learning the best ways invalids to feed.

In Trafalgar Square we bought some bird feed.
Soldiers in uniform wore many a medal.
They may have owed their health to a nurse,
And their liberty and freedom of speech to victory.
How have we lost our forefathers’ values?
They have faded and died like winter poppies.

But spring heralds new life; sprouting seeds of poppies
Lead to pepper-pots in autumn to feed
The birds, which live by different-from-human values.
Now Olympic sports competitors gain a medal
As a reward for record-breaking victory.
Never a grudge should the losers nurse.

In illness my children needed me to nurse
Them back to health. Painting tulips and poppies
Led to daughter’s art exam success – a victory.
Beauty does not fill a stomach, but can feed
The mind and spirit. A flower show medal
Is something its recipient values.

Mothers nurse, while babies feed.
Red poppies recall a dead soldier’s medal,
But Christ’s victory far exceeds earth’s values.