OULIPOST POEM 19: Miss New Jersey Sestina

Today’s prompt from the Found Poetry Review’s Oulipost Project: Sestina!

I love sestinas.  The first “successful” poem I ever wrote was a sestina.  Ashbery said of sestinas: “Rather like riding downhill on a bicycle and having the pedals push your feet. I wanted my feet pushed into places they wouldn’t normally have taken.”  That quote was formative in my development as a poet, I think.  I think I look for that sort of experience, of the poem taking me to places, no matter the form.  Maybe that’s true of everyone.

When I can’t find a first line, or a first stanza, or anything to write about, I normally start writing a sestina to try to find flow.  But I haven’t written a sestina I’ve been happy with in a long time.  Maybe not since that very first one.  I feel happy with this one, though.  All of the words and phrases come from an article about the Miss New Jersey pageant circuit.  And I kept the exact article title as my own title, since I basically wrote a satire of it.

On the road to Miss New Jersey: What it takes to wear the crown

Hairspray hung in the air.
We need to make sure our girls are educated—
is about waving in parades
and looking pretty!
I believe in any girl shopping
for the perfect miracle.

Money raised for the miracle
has been such a whirlwind of air,
yoga classes, exercising, and shopping.
“I haven’t even really had time to be educated
and beautiful,” said Pretty
Invincible Melissa as she was waving in parades.

Disney songs for months at parades:
“I’m OK with my miracle
schedule and walks in pretty
shoes. I like the air
on farms,” said Pretty Educated
Melissa as she was shopping

for local fruit. Yes, shopping
for a local peach. (Not at parades,
at grocery stores, for she is educated.)
“My mom is a miracle,
as is hairspray, volunteering, and the air.”
And, “I like to show people what it’s like for pretty

girls. Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty
girls.” Pretty Girl Melissa didn’t choose shopping
in New Jersey, but she had $100 to air,
and $250 for parades.
(Being educated,
that’s not a lot.) “I need a miracle,”

said Local Peach Melissa. “A miracle!”
Girls do this by holding fundraisers with pretty
local children (educated
local children) with awareness of shopping,
going to parades,
and being born into air.

Not a lot of girls are pretty. Not a lot of girls are shopping.
“I haven’t even had time to think about miracles.” Platform: “No air,
no parades. No local fruit in grocery stores, no something, something, educated.”


Condo, Calista. “On the road to Miss New Jersey: What it takes to wear the crown.” South Jersey Times (via NJ.com). 19 Apr 2014. http://www.nj.com/indulge/index.ssf/2014/04/miss_gloucester_county_more_than_just_a_beauty_pageant.html#incart_m-rpt-1

This entry was published on April 19, 2014 at 2:01 pm. It’s filed under Humor, Oulipost, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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