The lamp holds sway along the shadowed streets
A penumbra encircles its sweet shine
As night rests softly like a feathered cloak
Upon a multitude of dancing stars
And night and stars and lamp become a song
A story writ in music’s measured bars

The lamp’s penumbra swings on shadowed bars
Reflecting steel hung windows in the streets
A lunar globe joins in the star flung song
A haunting melody of heaven’s shine
Embracing all the world with diamond stars
Bejeweling the velvet nighttime cloak

And through the sensuous velvet of the cloak
Spin rays of universal singing bars
Embracing rapturously the mighty stars
Journeying light years to my own streets
Where I seek consolation in their shine
And constellations rapt in starry song

As through the streets of grace there comes a song
Enrapturing the world wrapped in night’s cloak
And spinning madly in its swirling shine
Commanding us to step to rhythmic bars
And dance as one through all the city streets
Embracing in the moonlight and the stars

One moon transcends the night and all its stars
Your countenance becomes my own sweet song
Your eyes wash blue upon the sparkling streets
Your hands touch mine beneath a velvet cloak
And feathered softness modulates the bars
Of music and of memory’s bright shine

As through the muted starlight’s silken shine
The moon descends to dance among the stars
Her grace beneath the velvet golden bars
Of radiant light and feathered muffled song
Transposes even evening in her cloak
As dawn breaks suddenly upon the streets

Her brilliance glorifies another song
And music folds away night’s feathered cloak
As we embrace upon our golden streets


Karen Melander Magoon resides in San Francisco; she spent nearly twenty years singing opera in Germany and Austria, returned home to the USA where she wrote and performed three musical portraits of famous women–Lillie Langtry, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Clara Barton, and is hoping to perform a fourth on Colette.  She has written poetry since she was in pre-school, her first prize being a pen and a dollar from a local newspaper. She has been published in Peoples Tribune, Street Sheet, A Feather Floating on the Water (Anthology edited by Virginia Barrett); About Place Journal (A Boy Killed) Quill and Parchment (Winter Scene, Jan 2016), Overthrowing Capitalism, anthology  volumes 2014 and 2015, 2016’ 2017; Homeward Magazine (Sacramento).


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4 Responses

  1. Sathyanarayana

    In my view sestina is the toughest of all poetic forms. I am rather scared at its rhyme scheme. This poem has great imagery and wonderful wordplay. In my view it’s very difficult to be a lyricist than a poet. A lyricist knows how to sync the words with tunes and hence their poetry is of much higher order and sweeter it tastes with underlying musical notes playing smooth with the words. Kudos Madam for this great piece of lyrical poetry.

    • C.B. Anderson

      Actually, most sestinas don’t really rhyme — it’s simply a matter of repeated words. But, yes, the pattern is rather complicated. One may, however, write a first stanza consisting of, say, rhyming couplets. Then the overarching pattern creates ensuing stanzas that rhyme in an interesting variety of ways. Also, to make things & easier, and perhaps more interesting, instead of repeating the exact same word, homonyms or homonymous word segments can be used: e.g. pail/pale & leaf/belief & extent/content &tc.

  2. E. V. "Beth" Wyler

    I enjoyed reading this poem. You’re very talented.

    E. V.

  3. James Sale

    I agree with Sathyanarayana in that the sestina is a tough form to crack and I certainly never have! And CB Anderson makes some great points too. So this is a really good poem – well done.


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