Tag Archives: Cento

Interval: A Cento

I was asking myself:
will I be like this? How will I manage?

Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table,
A beggar shivering in silhouette,
with a splash of vinegar:
stoic, bitter,
strangely sweet.

It never stops still for a moment, so
I try to make it internal, and every wave is charmed.

How better to drift toward another world
but with leaves falling. The leaves, a modulation
of the accumulated darkness in which
two hundred million stars have wink and glimmer needles.
Soundless, their gaps in the dark
bless the traveler and the hearth he travels to.

All the blessings
for squash, apples, carrots, and potatoes,
the milk, the wine, the honey that night pours out.

The boy who lives inside me still won’t go away.
There was a gap in things and here we are.

This cento contains lines from the following poets: Andrew Motion, Langston Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Margaret Atwood, Donald Hall, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rosemary Willey, Phillippe Delaveau, Luke Davies, Todd Davis, John Taggart, Bruce Weigl, Ron Padgett, Wendy Videlock, Howard Moss, John Hollander, Dave Lucas.


Ghost light (Cento)

When you came with white rabbits in your arms,
not for greater gifts of genius,
the wispy, the lightly lifted or stirring threads of existence.

I’ve learned everything is falling outward –
Quickening for the land and sea,
Drawing contours, shapes, and lines.

Shining nowhere, but in the dark
watching illumination upon illumination,
plunging and lifting, the grain spilling back.

Another circle is growing in the expanding ring –
and vanished into where they seemed to start
They are the future of us all.

 This Cento was composed using lines from the following poets.

Rita Dove, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Christopher Buckley, Gail Wronsky,Stephen Edgar, Henry Vaughn, Robert King, Barbara Howes, Tami Haaland, Dylan Thomas, May Sarton, Seamus Heaney


Swept up (Cento)

Negation, all fulfilled desire
gold with a heart of cinder.

Everything suggests something else.

When the weeds sprawl
it is not what you think.

The dust motes float
and swerve in the sunbeam
because I say we rather than they;

They change the color of your dream:
We is whiplash
and backhanded ways of settling grief.

Very present like a dark poem,
far and unreadable just out
at the edge of this poem floating.

And it is this rocking back and forth

to take in to sate the mouths

of humid heavy air and the wing music
of bees and flies.
Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.
Tomorrow waits with a big broom.


This Cento contains lines from the following poets:

Shirley Geok-Lin Lim, Robert Frost, AF Moritz, Muna Lee, Carl Sandburg, Karen Volkman, Lee Herrick, WS Graham, Susan Donnelly, Alison C Rollins, Ha Jin, Jean Garrigue, Jacob Saenz

Disbelief ( a Cento)

Time does have mercy. But it doesn’t enumerate or wait.
A mother of course goes on setting the table, even if it’s with broken plate
lit with the fire of sighs, casts spells, burns sage,
sweats in a lodge, her own prayers flaming,

afraid to demand the right
to be afraid.
You’re trying very hard.
the sensation of anticipated
hearing close inside the ear
and the incipient murmur or cry

Ask and ask until nothing’s left to ask.

A hundred Cheerios, one by one, thinking,
bearing a slender cord for unseen hands.
The rims of wounds have wounds as well.
The memory- as the sole miracle hovering in the air-
Dreams. Time. Horizon. Farther from home than belief
of how your mother laid roses.


This Cento is comprised of lines from the following poets.

Chen Chen, Barbara Ras, Sheryl Luna, Robin Morgan, Ko Un, Alice B. Fogel, Carry Fountain, Edwin Markham, Lucie Brock-Broido, Arthur Davison Ficke, Simon J. Ortiz.

Choice words (Cento)

Under the wordless sky, come
with loveliness and the icy drouth
of hate –

The diverse forms of things, how can we learn?
Such is life’s trial, as old earth smiles and knows
We call things beautiful, not as such, but because of what they mean.

One moment rests my heart, to rend the next
with words alert and bold,
betrayals so long repeated
that they are taken for granted.

And passing on, smiled like a singing rainbow,
the sky too soon shall witness on your winter hill
as atoms dissipate, as chance sorts life.

A Cento is a poem comprised of lines borrowed from other poets. This one owes is origins to the following poets:
Edward Albert Clements, Margaret Fraser,V.N. Wylde,John Creagh, Kathryn Worth, Joseph Stanley Pennell, John Davies, Robert Browning, Anthony Madrid, and W.S. Merwin.

Unknowns (Cento)

The wars go on and on,
invading  your dreams.
Everything you saw
                                 you were,
and you saw everything.
Out of the heart of the ineffable
draw the black flecks of matter
and from these the cold, blue fire.
It produced a wavelike pattern.
All this prodding, so that to an outside observer,
we are the gods who can unmake
the world in seven days.
And just as I need every bit
 of what is seen,

even among these
visions that witches brew,
spoken with images,
never with you-
There was never any more inception than there is now,
to go into the unknown.
I must enter, and leave, alone,
I know not how,
but knew love and
know it through knowledge.
-The darkness in the open mouth
uttered itself, pushing
aside the light.
Jessica Hagedorn, Don Bogen, Diane di Prima, John Beer, Lisel Mueller, Jane Yolen, Michael Anania, Walt Whitman, Edward Thomas, Laura Moriarty, Helen Dudley, Margaret Atwood

A Christmas Card

Paper greetings, printed in opaque black,
swirled with ochre tones – and embossed
with tinsel and glare.

The serenity of straw and stable,
low station and artless beginnings-
in the midst of majestic creations.

Or how the mystery of snowfall
obscures the road ahead, yet in stillness
illustrates continuum beauty where we are led.

The green wreath, the evergreen bough-
decked in ribbon – tinged with gold
and captures glimmer and snow alike, somehow.

See the carolers, their faces
reddened in winter’s callous air –
mouths agape with our imagined joyful song and prayer.

In the bleak midwinter,
Snow lay all around, stars shown bright-
then pealed the bells more loud and clear,
Merry Christmas, Noel, this silent night.