LZ-129, 97 aboard. Piercing God's
flood of clouds like humanity’s
ark, its shadow engraves the water,
diffracting its wake. Air-
ship of dreams, traversing earth,
skimming the sun's face of fire.

Ailerons, tempered by fire,
lay a course across the heavens,
an icarian defiance against earth's
mighty pull. And we mortals,
suffered thus to soar through air,
to bridge this abyss of water.

'H' – For an instant the waters
reflect an elemental symbol. Engines fire
a final approach to Lakehurst Naval Air;
then the full emblazon, as if the Lord’s
hand writ the tablature of human
frailty, 'HINDENBURG', on earth.

Near moored, to be winched to earth;
bow-trimmed, even-keeled by water
ballast. Suddenly, what no one
expected, explosion, fire –
"Starboard! Aft!" – a fury, act of Fate,
hydrogen flames engulfing air.

The bow rips, exposing to air
a frail skeleton, tilting to earth,
flinging passengers into Providence.
Dreams dissemble into ash; water
sublimates into fire;
we watch, helpless to a soul.

"Crashing to the ground... oh, the humanity!"
We surge screaming to the wreck, air
strangled with smoke, dreams a fire-
chalked silhouette across the earth.
And faith unravels like a contrail over water:
Nearer my God, nearer my God -

All around, burnt air, scorched earth,
untethered fire; so, this vale of water,
this coil of man - Nearer to thee my God.


  1. Short link - http://bit.ly/s4H001

  2. Wow. This one made me cry. I didn't see it coming. The hand, the Hindenburg, the Icarus beneath the surface = the science of poetry made manifest. I didn't expect a historical moment somehow, with the first fiery stanzas, so it hit me strongly. "So this vale of water, this coil of man.."

  3. Wow! I am blown away, Sam!! Love everything about this..the imagery especially, considering how I love experiencing a poem with all my senses. You continually amaze me with your talent. Great job.

  4. great poem.
    i enjoyed the imagery that you projected into my mind.
    Keep writing!

  5. Thanks so much for the kind words. This isn't the first sestina I've attempted, but the first to survive the editing process.

  6. And yet the form is the least noticeable part of the poem. Awesome work, Sam.

  7. Seriously - I didn't catch the structure on the first or second go-round. What strikes me most on contemplation is the active voice you use - serious verbs, like "rips" and "engraves", "surge" and "unravels." This is a poem where the words (sorry, there's no way to say this pun-less) explode at the reader off the screen/page. Lovely.

  8. Nicely written poem, loved it!
    Keep up your great work!
    All the best

  9. Thank you! I think I may work my way through the entire periodic table of elements.

  10. Yet another tour-de-force. I like this "Sestina" form and will attempt taking it up as well.

    BTW - I have put out a call for submissions at my site. I'm sure you could easily cinch that challenge and it would be an honor to receive something from you:



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