T.S. Eliot never wrote a sestina.
I guess he was afraid of copying Pound;
Or else doubted his metrical finesse. If
We rate poets according to form, he blew.
With Old Possum, it’s like free verse all the way.
Yet, except for “Sestina: Altaforte”

And “Mauberly,” form wasn’t Ez’s forte,
Either, assuming that means the sestina,
The villanelle, the sonnet. Yet there’s a way
To give the term a wider relevance. Pound
On the podium, rave, fume until you’re blue
In the face, but free verse is here to stay. If

They want an audience—this is a huge "if"—
Poets should know most readers under forty
Loathe rhyme and ta-dum, ta-dum, ta-dum. Joe Blow
Knows zip about the sonnet or sestina.
He buys Bukowski paperbacks by the pound.
Would he groove on Gioia or Hacker? No way.

“Little Miss Muffet, eating her curds and whey”—
Form is all just Mother Goose to Joe B. If
Asked, he’d probably say he didn’t like Pound
Or Eliot so much, either. Meanwhile, for T.
S.E. (whose friends called him Tsetse) “Sestina:
Altaforte” may well have plotzed. Many blue-

Bloods prefer jazz to “high culture.” Kind of Blue
In their book’s better than “Gerontion.” Weigh
The two. Secondhand emotion, says Tina
Turner, is boring. So which is the real riff?
Do you like your faves piano or forte?
Is U.S. currency the dollar or pound?

Both, from time to time, paid bills for Ezra Pound,
Our poet-chameleon. Winds of change blew
Where they would, and he followed, “Altaforte”
Is just one approach he took. I mean, it’s way
Too hard for most bards to get down with. Me, if
I had to write villanelles and sestinas

Every week, I’d blow my brains out. Sestinas
Rock, sure, but they’re not my forte. Write as if
I were those guys? There must be another way.