There’s a chill in the early morning air.
Light spreads brightly downwards from the wide
fluttering clusters of papery wings,
tangles tongues with rain.

Anonymous at a timeless hour,
pigeons pace like commuters in the station,
detect a rhythm,
diminuendo of minor notes –
no cooing on the telephone wire.

A shadow flits ahead.
Along the crest, wind-whittled hawthorns
anchors in a gale,
flecked with tiny mayflowers, stars in the hedge.

In an attempt to solve the riddle of my soul,
I’ve forgotten about you, well almost, love,
and still you are distant,
full of forgotten faces with which I lace your sleep,
when up sneaks grief,
grumbling grumbling,
coming, reconciled with death.

So here is a humble apology:
broken cobwebs steeped in dust
like ravens splashing black crosses in your poetic sky.
A hot-air balloon,
union of verb and noun,
disintegrates silently on the moon,
coming to an end.

Kim M. Russell, 29th April 2017

On Day 29 of The Poetry School’s NaPoWriMo prompts, we are writing self-centos.

On this penultimate NaPoWriMo day, Julia Bird has asked us to reuse, recycle and rehash with a cento, a poem made up entirely of lines from other poets’ poems. Our version differs in only one way: Julia would a 28 line cento, but it should use lines from our own poems written during NaPoWriMo.

It doesn’t matter if we haven’t managed 28 poems so far – we can write a shorter poem, use multiple lines from the same poem or use lines from pre-existing poems. The important thing is it’s our own voices we’re remixing and restyling.

We are allowed to make minor tweaks to the lines to make them fit, so we don’t have to worry about changing tenses, adjusting grammar, or rephrasing slightly, but we mustn’t add words.

There are lots of excellent centos out there, but our example today is a classic: John Ashbery’s ‘The Dong with the Luminous Nose’: 


3 thoughts on “Self-Cento(red)

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