Brian Baumgart

49th Mailing to Colin Firth – A Sestina

You don’t know me, Colin,
but someone close, a secret
and distant friend, you could say,
moved me, gave a petite speech
about a man, a charming English
chap. If she is honest in desire,

and, yes, you are the one she desires,
then, Colin—can I call you Colin?—
we must rejoice in the lovely English
garden we all know you secretly
stroll through, practicing speech
after speech, humming each word you say

as though the rubbish others say
can’t even come close to being
as delightful as the sensual speech
of a bird; yet yours does, Colin.
Don’t deny that the secret
to success is the tremble of English

tendencies. Trust me: I teach English
at a community college and what I say
is certain. Let there be no secrets
between us, and with this being
the forty-ninth letter to you, Colin,
I won’t pretend I watched The King’s Speech;

I’ve heard your preparation with a speech
impediment was immaculate—better than The English
Patient, obviously: Probably because Colin
Firth did not star. Do not listen to what they say.
You are a rather stunning human being—
at least that’s what my friend moans in secret.

But I think you know my secret:
there is no friend, there was no speech
and, if we are being honest,
I don’t give a damn if you are English,
French, Liberian, Zambian, or, say,
even Martian, because a Martian Colin

still can’t help being a desirable Colin.
The language of every speech you say
is love, in secret, disguised in English.


Brian Baumgart is the director of the Associate of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at North Hennepin Community College just outside Minneapolis. He holds an MFA from Minnesota State University-Mankato. His writing has been published in various journals, including Ruminate, Cleaver Magazine, and previously in Sweet. He loves sestinas more than Colin Firth, although his son is actually named Colin, so maybe he’s lying.

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