Seagull Seguidillas

The Seagull’s Fifteenth Seguidilla

An orchestra of flavors
Comes from the boardwalk
In July, and thoughts of death
Lose by a long chalk.
Playing Skate or Die!,
Kids in the arcade throw bread-
Crumbs at destiny.



The Seagull’s 271st Seguidilla

A little form’s a lot of
Fun. Most tragedies
Are giants. What’s up with low
Brow seguidillas?
This one’s wearing twill
And eating ratatouille
With Shaquille O’Neal.


Click here to read Jake Sheff on the origin of the poem.

Image: photo by Chris Brignola on Unsplash, licensed under CC 2.0.

Jake Sheff:

I came to learn about the seguidilla first by reading Jean Froissart’s The Chronicles on a train from Paris to Lyon. Later, I’d learn that as a member of Queen Philippa’s court, the French historian crossed paths with Chaucer and Petrarch, and that he too was a poet, with several virelais. Upon returning stateside, I tried my hand at the virelai, in a series of death-songs. (Shortly before traveling through France, I was introduced to this genre by Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments.) Alas, a language like English, with its paucity of rhymes in comparison to its Romance counterparts, struggles with the form’s demanding rhyme scheme. But it was in researching the virelai that I discovered the seguidilla. Here was another form inviting me to try it, but as a seagull. (Initially, it seemed, alliteration was its sole reason.) I’ve now been working on this project for nearly a whole year, with only one interruption: to compose The Zebra’s Hebrew Melodies, a poem whose sonic structure is borrowed from Byron’s The Destruction of Sennacherib. I’ve done this in my usual way: by jotting down ideas all week, then, in my free time, consulting those notes as I strive to create something captivating (in the way the ocean’s captivating when it reflects the stars). When I listen to this seagull, it’s hard to imagine that he’s not the child of Emily Dickinson and Paul Muldoon. He must be the rarest of birds, because whenever I sit down to write, I do so believing it impossible that he exists, but with each seguidilla, I find myself proven wrong.

Jake Sheff
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