Rachelyn farrell

Research Scientist
Narrative Intelligence Lab
University of Kentucky
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Structure (Sestina)

(Sestina – a VERY restrictive form in which the last word of each line in each stanza has to be repeated (in some form) in this exact pattern, and then all appear again in a final triplet. Also it’s supposed to be in iambic pentameter.)

Structure is the kindle for the fire
of everything that takes imagination.
You build a box, and in it, your creation
will grow and thrive, so orderly and straight,
into a mighty pretty little box.
Exactly your initial inspiration!

So why don’t we just nix the inspiration?
We’ll shred it up and set the lot on fire.
Define dimensions for the perfect box
And cut the keys to fit the locks– Imagine!
How beautiful, symmetric, clean, and straight
The masterpiece would be that you’d create.

Then why not mass-produce the fine creation?
It’s cumbersome, for each to be inspired;
To have to chop the jagged edges straight,
when all we need is big machines and fire.
So fuel the furnace, just as you imagined
An infinite conveyor belt of boxes.

Now build a fortress out of all the boxes,
to hide behind perfections we’ve created.
No longer will we need imagination.
With all of this to show, we’ll just inspire
the others to attack with cannon fire
And watch our walls remain intact and straight.

My point is this, I’ll give it to you straight:
Art is only art when it’s in boxes.
Otherwise, it’s just a fickle fire
that’s doomed to die if more is not created.
The ashes of the muse that once inspired
And nothing left to spark imagination.

So bottle up the beauty you’ve imagined,
and line it up among the rest, and straighten.
From now on, when you feel the inspiration,
Just pack it up and throw it in a box.
And don’t forget to label each creation,
In case they get disordered by the fire.

Take aim and fire straight at my creation.
Imagine, as the boxes tumble down–
if structure could replace our inspiration.