Rochelle Hurt: The cento is a collage form in which a poem is composed entirely of lines from other poems. It can be an homage to the originals, a subversive twist, or just a fun game. Contemporary examples of the form include “The Dong with the Luminous Nose” by John Ashbery and “Wolf Cento” by Simone Muench.
In homage to the poets of our current issue, I’ve composed a couple of centos in which each line comes from a different poem in issue 12.1. (I’ve added punctuation here and there.) We encourage you to compose your own 12.1 cento and post it on our blog. We’ll float a free issue to creators of the strongest three (either gift for a friend or added to your current subscription). Pro tips: 1. Remember to cite the authors you quote from the issue; 2. enjambment is your friend!
The sky lit up like a glass of water,
flipped eyelids first glint of light.
Our zinc roof unpeeled to show
Father the split fibula where the marrow must rust.
Dark blue run, rim of
a portable dark. Maybe a cave inside
leading to the sea. Grime and pastel.
Blindness is medicine for those who have
a secret room of hands.
Yes, simply because it contains all the secrets of
my transparent body.
Sources, in order: John McAuliffe, Dong Li, Safiya Sinclair (x2 – different poems), Marianne Boruch, Benjamin S. Grossberg, Justin Runge, Nick Courtright, CJ Evans, Changming Yuan, Kiriu Minashita.
O keel and swerve,
bird that flies from the past to the past
in a room adjusted by a metallic voice.
The future, clover-shaped, hail-beat.
Relax, this is only a sketch
of the inner eye. I would travel many days to see
these plastic heavens
the blue darkness vividly boils around.
My faith’s not what I’m told God wants it to be.
When the boats sail, I let them.