First year English student and first-time submitter Kristina Pantalone has sent us a haunting sestina entitled “Loosen Up”. This piece creates a build up effect, with each stanza providing a fresh perspective in its repeated vocabulary. By the end, the world around the poem becomes so layered through this repetitiveness that its meanings are complicated in the most disturbing ways. The vowel and consonant sounds play a crucial role in the movement of this piece as well, picking up intensity and speed as it moves along. It isn’t until the final stanza that the reader is brought back down from this seemingly out-of-body “trip”, providing a moment to settle back down in the present.
Loosen this constricting strap
of supervision in the heart of the pulsing night,
push through the impossibly strong pane
and escape through the glass to the moon that reflects a polish
that makes arms limp and legs trip
over themselves –seemingly drunk.
Only tipsy, not yet drunk,
realization hits under the buckle of another strap
that secures safety for the trip
in a nobody’s car, driving to the beat of the night
whose headlights plaster the road with too-bright polish
that lets them see through the precautionary pane.
Scream through the pain
of being young and stupid and drunk
-on life- so shiny and new like the rip-off fingernail polish
that chips with each graze and tuck of the visibly invisible security strap.
It chokes the breath from the lungs to-night
making it an unworthy trip
with nobodies who already trip
on other things, other pain
and coast away the night
with joyrides and glowing amber fire to be drunk
through a zippered lunch bag missing its juvenile strap
held by the backseat driver who helped to polish
off the fire who stinks of his sausage dinner – Polish
perhaps? His spicy breath lights a fire when he says, I’m glad I made the trip.
Too warm, as the car fogs and he removes the withered strap
-that sad rip causes pain
at realizing the whiskey was long drunk
before the start of the night-.
It starts to-night:
this eradication of the perfunctory polish
that sheens like sticky liquid and burns when drunk
on this abomination of a past-midnight trip,
reflecting through the invisible pane
of glass that shows the broken idealism that is a school bag’s pilling strap.
All you want to do is tighten this strong, little strap
and dangle from the shattered pane
to avoid this useless moonlight trip.