I lift my eyes and pray to God above,
deliver me, dear Lord, from Satan’s Hell.
I come to You with heart brimful of Love,
content to drink life’s water from Your well.
And if, by chance, I do not measure up,
perhaps a drop of mercy from Your cup.

Or maybe I’ll pursue the loving cup
and seek earth’s pleasures not those from above.
The quest of flesh is always looking up
and heaven’s to be found in sight of Hell.
Don’t seek perfection when you can do well.
I’m perfectly content to live on Love.

And, even though I am sustained by Love,
I see beside my plate an empty cup.
I’ll have some wine then go back to the well
and toast the near departed up above.
As, merrily, I make life less a Hell
by never feeling down, just drinking up.

White wine with fish or red with beef sauced up.
For haute cuisine’s a special kind of Love.
The French know food can soothe a burning Hell.
Their balm is butter, gallons, not a cup.
And if gastronomy is spurned above,
my Gallic gut shall even still eat well.

The best vindictiveness is living well,
but vengeance hardly ever evens up.
I’d rather laugh and joke and stay above
the pitfalls and the hard attacks of Love.
Somehow sadness lives within my cup,
overfilled in Heaven or in Hell.

I think God knows that I am bound for Hell,
but no one really knows another well.
Everything I’ve learned fits in a cup.
I hope appreciation lifts me up
because all God’s creations I do Love
and know good things descend from God above.

My palms now form a cup I raise above
to show a life lived well and full of Love.
Lord, get the keys of Hell and lock it up.



Mike Bryant is a poet and retired plumber living on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

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11 Responses

  1. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    A Sestina is a challenging form to take on. To add rhyme, philosophy and a pinch of humor into the mix is admirable – a privilege to read.

    • Mike Bryant

      Thank You… I wonder if you remember who set the challenge of constructing a sestina in iambic pentameter.

  2. C.B. Anderson

    Both of the above comments on the form are telling. For the first, I think that adding rhyme is a good idea, for otherwise sestinas tend to drag along in a rather boring way. It’s interesting how the rhymes get rearranged in every stanza, and the few that I have written always include rhyme. For the second, I would never think of writing a sestina that wasn’t metrical. To make a sestina even more interesting, consider using homonyms and homophones for the words at the end of each line. Most of the sestinas I’ve read are fairly tedious, but this one did not put me to sleep. You, Mike, have plumbed the far reaches of the pipes that deliver the water of life.

    • Mike Bryant

      Thank you C. B. High praise indeed. It was my wife, Susan, of course, who suggested that I try the iambic pentameter with this difficult form. I decide on the six words. It was a challenge that I really enjoyed.

  3. James A. Tweedie

    This put a new twist to the phrase, “In the (his) cups,” but with a more satisfying conclusion!

    • Mike Bryant

      James, well spotted! I appreciate your astute observation. Thanks!

  4. David Watt

    Mike, this piece demonstrates a mastery of the sestina form, far above that of a journeyman.

    • Mike Bryant

      David, thank you. It’s interesting that you’ve used the words “journeyman” and “mastery”, since I did exceed journeyman status in my chosen trade, and I am a Master Plumber.

      • David Watt

        Mike, my analogy was based on the assumption that you had indeed followed the path from journeyman to Master Plumber. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  5. Monty

    Not that it’ll render it any more decipherable; but it’d seem that the final word in the above esoterica should’ve read “wandered”.


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