From the Vaults: Batman Sestina

Happy Batman Day 2021! Here is the last, I think, of the formal Batman poems I wrote in grad school. I beg you not to judge me too harshly; this was my first sestina and while the rules for the form are easy enough to get, actually writing something beautiful while following them is another matter.

For other Bat-poetry of mine, check the vaults, especially “Gotham Jabberwocky” and “Two-Faced Love Song.

Batman Sestina
by Jessica Lévai

The daylight fades and I put on my mask,
Which hides my face just as it frees my eyes.
My hands are gloved, and to protect my heart,
A solid metal plate, for what it’s worth.
(How hard I find it, not to think of death.)
I hit the gas and drive into the night.

The city wears its truest face at night.
What sunlight shows you is a fragile mask.
It covers up the sense of fear and death
All too familiar to my jaded eyes,
Which see so little hope in human worth.
I make my way into the city’s heart.

A siren cries; I feel it in my heart
And know I have much work to do this night.
What would the city’s brave police be worth
Without the help of one who wears a mask?
For I see things that never reach their eyes;
Alone I fight without the fear of death.

I follow crime as silently as death.
I know the beating of a guilty heart,
And I can bring out terror in the eyes.
The worst of them, I know, come out at night
To wait for me. The ones who wear a mask,
Just like my own, I fight for all I’m worth.

My promise to you means my work has worth,
For it was made the night I watched your death.
I swore to you I’d always wear this mask,
And be your vengeance on this earth. My heart
Has not forgotten. I command the night,
But through it I will always feel your eyes.

The night is over. When I close my eyes
I know the good I do. But is it worth
The sacrifice and pain, night after night?
Perhaps it’s not so wrong to wish for death.
The weight of time has made me sick at heart.
And yet I cannot throw away the mask.

As I take off the mask and rub my eyes,
I know within my heart this life has worth,
And I will meet my death some other night.
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