“Sestina in Seattle” began as a challenge from Martin to John, to write the first stanza, six lines, of a sestina based in and around Seattle. Martin provided his own sestina “Lunacy and Light” as a model. For mysterious reasons, while “Sestina in Seattle” was the fifth poem begun (and the poets’ first foray into formal verse), it was the fourth poem finished, a couple of weeks before “Scum Sifter in St. Louis.”
“Sestina in Seattle” offers a wild ride through and around the biggest city in the Pacific Northwest, touching on logging, rain, heroin, the Mariners, grunge, salmon, Microsoft, and, of course, the future extraplanetary expansion of the Starbucks empire.
“Sestina in Seattle” first appeared in Compass Rose Number 10 (May 2010). It is the forty-first poem in the final sequence of Poets’ Guide to America.