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I think this is a sestina

I wrote it in the spring of 1977 and found it a couple of weeks ago, stashed in some papers in a bag in my basement:


The type of crime depends upon the thief.
The young ones grasp at fortunes straightaway
And pause not for a careful strategy,
But headlong rush the vaults, a show of force
To compensate for all the skills they lack
That only long experience can teach.

Impatience, though, means life will never teach
The hungry, eager, lightning-fingered thief
About the cunning and the guile he lacks.
Impulsive, he must act, and right away
And hope his boldness overwhelms the force
That seeks to stop his lawless strategy.

But he is young, and so his strategy
Lacks subtlety that only time can teach.
This youthful blindness is a potent force
That often is the downfall of a thief.
He sees this as the law locks him away.
His time in prison shows him all he lacked.

An old and artful thief has no such lack.
His years have long refined his strategy.
His youthful habits long since thrown away,
He knows that time, indeed, had much to teach.
He’s learned so well, this cunning, crafty thief.
He laughs aloud at any lawful force.

His guile is second nature, never forced.
Experience is the last thing that he lacks.
This knowledge is so vital for a thief
If he’s to plan successful strategies.
He skill is something he could never teach,
But still, he knows it will not slip away.

He knows the law cannot put him away.
He sees it as a powerless, futile force.
His every heist’s a lesson that will teach
Detectives that there’s so much that they lack
As they guess at his well-wrought strategies
That he’ll remain at large, a brilliant thief.

The law force put the younger man away.
His strategies all suffered from a lack
Of what time had to teach the older thief.

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March 2017

Wish I'd Said It

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"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

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