Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 013

For this week’s poetry prompt, I’m also going to discuss an interesting poetic form called the cento. A cento is a poem composed of lines from other poets’ poems. It’s similar to the “cut-up technique” made famous by William S. Burroughs and others. The main difference is that a cento uses only lines from other poets, whereas the cut-up technique uses lines from any and every where.

I want you to go through your favorite poems and piece together your very own cento. The lines do not need to be popular or well known–but you should know where and who you’re drawing from. The method that helped me was to find the lines and write them down first before trying to make something out of them. Later on, you can try this exercise on your own poems, especially ones where you might like a line or two but feel disappointed in the whole (I know I’ve written many that fit this description).

Anyway, here’s my effort for the week:

“And we let the fish go”

A bestiary catalogs these hips are
big hips: My mother is a fish.

In Goya’s greatest scenes we seem to see
the best minds of our generation destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked, because we could not stop
for Death, beside the white chickens.

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
“I am not a painter; I am a poet;
and I eat men like air.” I have gone
out, a possessed witch, even as I speak,
for lack of love alone–sweet to tongue
and sound to eye–and that has made
all the difference. They tell me you

are wicked and I believe them, for I
have seen your painted women under the gas
lamps luring the farm boys. We wear the mask
that grins and lies, “The blind always come
as such a surprise.” Let us go then,

you and I: We real cool. We rage,
rage against the dying of the light.


(As you can see, many great lines were referenced and turned into a new whole, fighting for a new meaning. Btw, 21 poets–including the title–were referenced: I wonder who can figure out the most.)

You might also like:

  • No Related Posts

60 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 013

  1. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    Cento Australiana

    I love a sunburnt country.
    On her dark breast we spring like points of light,
    morning’s first colour, curving to day’s end

    the children screaming at the water’s edge with seagulls,
    hearing the birds’ ancestral incantations
    among the arid relics of old tide patterns.

    Sometimes when summer is over the land
    the harbour breaks up in thunders of sunlight
    and a steep blue sky

    as I feel the weight of light begin to bleach my feet
    where seagulls rode upon the foam
    and the hawk in the high sky hung.

    January heat. Raw saplings stand like cattle
    at high voltage summer noon.
    Flies multiply in the heat.

    The scrub is thick in the gully
    with graceful curves of dried up streams,
    lantana green smell on your hands.

    Look at the sky! It’s ‘trying’ to rain;
    this desert, blinding, unnamed
    leaving us undefended as the stars.

    Red rock forms sheltering walls
    by a ring of worn river stones,
    lightning-gutted remnants.

    Walk into the memory of rain
    the dream of grass
    the glint of fronds and blades in the light

    this hushed sun-haze morning,
    turning over wet leaves with my walking stick;
    green leaves – a patch of world along a river.

    Because a little vagrant wind veered south from China Sea
    slow drops of rain began to fall; the wind
    suspended in the amber sky.

    The moon had rippled past the hotel glass
    and suddenly there was a presence.
    Sniff the bougainvillea and you’re in the south pacific again the purple islands.

    The East wind sucks itself along sea shelves
    it blows all summer long like a bellows
    great murmur of rain spreading over suburbs and into the hills.

    At night, in each other’s arms, we touch the sun . . .
    watching the rocks bleed lichen onto the snow.
    I am rested and walk away, into the rolling dunes.


    Australian poets:

    Dorothea Mackellar
    Judith Wright
    Joyce Lee
    Rosemary Dobson
    Gwen Harwood
    Bev Roberts
    Bruce Dawe
    Vincent Buckley
    Rod Moran
    Jennifer Rankin
    Kristin Henry
    Dorothy Hewett
    Les Murray
    Dorothy Porter
    Tony Page
    Barbara Giles
    Michael Leunig
    Chris Mansell
    Susan Hampton
    Barrett Reid
    Shelton Lea
    Wendy Poussard
    Mal Morgan
    Gary Catalano
    Katherine Gallagher
    Jennie Fraine
    Roland Robinson
    Philip Martin
    Liz Hall-Downs
    John Shaw Neilson
    C.J. Dennis
    Oodgeroo Noonuccal
    David Campbell
    Pi O
    John Kinsella
    Michael Dransfield
    Maie Casey
    Bridget Porter Oldale
    Judith Rodriguez
    David Malouf
    Doris Leadbetter
    Jenny Boult (aka M.M. Bliss)

  2. S.E. Ingraham

    Ah Earl,
    After all of our many outcries
    Your last poem was sure a surprise
    I’m sorry if my big mouth was out-sized
    But glad to know your heart’s full-size.
    Sharon I
    (sorry for the pitiful rhyme – yours rocks – it’s late here and I wanted to reply before I turned out the light..)

  3. Earl Parsons

    My demise

    I meant not to demonize
    Or criticize
    Or proselytize
    My intent was to advise
    Not chastise
    Or baptize
    With my attempt to Christianize
    And Americanize
    And militarize
    Instead my verbal exercise
    Those who poetize
    For that I apologize

  4. Michelle H.

    "For the Child in Us"

    I know you won’t believe me,
    When the golden day is done,
    My friends think I’m loony.
    With Robert Bruce and William Tell,
    The moon is our lantern, the stars are our guide,
    Till morning in the land of nod.
    I’m appearing out of nowhere,
    Down by a shining water well,
    The dragon burned my homework.

    (This one was tough for me – I have favorite authors and poets but I do not have great memory retention – so I picked one old favorite and one new favorite and read their poetry until I could find some lines I liked. The poets are Robert Louis Stevenson and Jack Prelutsky.)

  5. Jane penland hoover

    Listening for an Answer

    And I think of whispering prayers, the something
    that I asked of you once in that worn out orchard to assure
    myself that you were real and how I do not remember
    what I asked, but how I took that hard green bud, knot of a
    single peach, for your answer. And tonight I remember
    where I am visiting old Florida friends where I will sleep
    sound in their big quilted bed, back in the arms of
    belief where gentleness flows down…

    where I hear “Don’t try to end it. Be your note. I’ll show
    you how it is enough… sing loud! How in the morning as I
    walked along the lakeshore I fell in love with a wren
    and later in the day with a mouse the cat had dropped under
    the dinning room table

    earlier as I walked along the lakeshore I fell in love with
    a wren and later in the day with a mouse the cat had dropped
    under the dinning room table. And how earlier
    shipping oars, my own wake rocked me into shore, here
    where birds have not yet returned though here and there
    a banana shoot, a foot of two of cane like green ribbons
    in the distance

    where in the afternoon I found myself standing at the
    bathroom sink gazing down affectionately at the soap, so
    patient and soluble, so at home it is pale green soap dish
    I can hear my breathing. I can hear the lateness of the hour
    by what isn’t moving. The wind gone now
    Don’t grieve for what doesn’t come. Some things that
    don’t happen keep disasters from happening

    and yet I think about this man, about his question
    about how the whole world carried me today
    and how I think that I’m in love with soap…

    Poem written using lines from the following:
    (Rumi –The Essential Rumi)
    (Jim Kacian – Dust of Summers)
    (Lavonne J Adams – In the Shadow of the Mountain)
    (Pat Schneider – Another River)
    (Billy Collins – Nine Horses)
    (Stephen Dunn –New and Selected Poems)
    (Robert Morgan – Cold Mountain Review)
    (David Manning – The Flower Sermon)

  6. S.E. Ingraham

    This is completely off topic and a non-sequiter if ever there was one but I am trying to find the Elizabeth, who, back in April when we were all busily penning our poems-a-day, recommended the book, "The Poet’s Companion". I have been trying to find it ever since and was lucky enough to finally purchase a copy in Victoria B.C. when I was there on vacation a week or so ago. So – to Elizabeth whomever, thank you, thank you, thank you, – it is everything you said it would be and I’m glad I took the trouble to hunt down a copy. Sharon I. (if anyone knows the person in question and they are no longer on this site, please drop me an e-mail, so I can get in touch – thx)

  7. Rodney C. Walmer

    Great to see your back lain, your poem "Death Runs in The Family" is very moving. I have read it several times since you have posted it. It seems I am finding something new about it, each time I read the poem. Great to have you back with us my friend, glad you survived those rapids. Betcha they were fun.


  8. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    Iain, your arrival is well timed. As Sharon has, please visit my website,

    Iain and Sharon:

    I do believe you will find the Poem du Jour (written in response to prayer about the weird turn this blog made since last Weds.) to be of par-TIC-ular interest!!

    Yeah, I have an FBI file too, for minor stuff like going toe-to-toe with SS (oops, I mean Secret Service) during a Cheney protest in Buffalo, being an environmentalist (or "eco-terrorist," even though I am non-violent), etc. All in the name of justice per my Congregationalist roots (Sharon, we should talk!)

    Peace and love to all, Amy (momskas)

  9. Iain D. Kemp

    Yes sireee Sharon, Lil Red is back and hell I JUST damned near died o’ drownin’ & i see the it how tis cos they aint natives they is just mad peeple gettin madder all the while cos they they got a B-lack man gonna be P-resident & real soon. Now don’t get me started, this be all ’bout pootree and we gonna forgit how the FBI file on Phil Ochs was just 13 inches thick and how all he did was tell the truth.
    " Oh say can you see how the White House screwed me…"

    Y’all kiss my star spangled Whoo-hah while I sing "Kick it Cajun style…"


    Da Rooster is crowin’

    Nuff said!


  10. S.E. Ingraham

    Welcome back Iain and not a moment too soon – as you can see, the natives are restless, the peasants revolting (yes, aren’t they just?)…love your poem incidentally, especially the last line, also a favourite of mine and one of my secret fears; to be drowning, calling for help and taken for waving, not drowning (I actually know of someone this happened to…perhaps that accounts for my somewhat irrational paranoia in this regard.)

    And Amy, bless you – I had about bitten my tongue clean off trying to keep quiet about this whole political rhetoric thing (laced through pretty heavily with some religious rhetoric, it seems to me) and you said what needed to be said in the nicest way possible.

    I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it on here or not, but the church I attend, the Unitarian Universalists, were the target of a man who hates us because of what he sees as our "liberal" ideas, about a week ago. He went into the church in Tennessee and opened fire during a children’s concert, wounding over half a dozen people and killing two congregants that stepped in front of kids to keep them from getting killed.

    How liberal are we? Well – we were instrumental in getting both women and blacks the vote, and we believe that everyone should have the right to believe in whatever religion they choose. That’s just for starters. There is nothing about us that warrants getting shot, I don’t think, and even though I’m a Canadian, I can vouch for the American Unitarians when I say they are as kind and compassionate a group of souls as you’ll ever meet. We just don’t think anyone has the right to tell anyone else what to believe and how to think.

    Whew – I’m sorry – I didn’t mean to go off like that, but as you can probably tell, this shooting has really hit me where I live. And I don’t even live stateside, as I said.

    I’ll jump down off my soapbox now and get back to the poetry.


  11. Iain D. Kemp

    HI FOLKS! I’m back. Back from vacation, back from the dead (nearly drowned rafting!).
    I’ve posted a vacation poem in its rightful place & will try and catch up with rest asap.
    Belated happy burpday to Robert and good poeming everyone!

    Prompt: a Cento

    Death runs in the family.

    Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn
    The evening advances and withdraws again.
    Without you every morning would be like
    going back to work after a holiday.
    Late August, given heavy rain and sun.

    Time was away and somewhere else.
    Even so distant I can taste the grief.
    I sat all morning in the college sickbay,
    Though my mother was already two years dead.
    She died in the upstairs bedroom

    My father worked with a horse-plough
    Iago Prytherch his name, though, be it allowed
    The day he moved out was terrible
    Barely a twelvemonth after.
    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

    The bells of waiting advent ring
    all the way to the hospital.
    He drowsed and was aware of silence heaped.
    “Let me die a youngman’s death…
    …once I am sure there is nothing going on.”

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    In valleys green and still.
    Into my heart an air that kills
    “Is there anybody there?” said the traveller
    Nobody heard him, the dead man.

    Calm is the landscape when the storm has passed
    I have seen the sun break through
    I think continually of those who were truly great
    I know I shall meet my fate
    and not waving but drowning

    I chose to use the index of first lines from the anthology: The Nation’s Favourite 20C Poems (UK) that was published as a result of a TV poll by the BBC in 1999. The lines are all first lines except one which is a last line (the last line!) It was an interesting way to go about it and I think it almost works.
    Poets selected are (in order) Sir John Betjeman (3), Hugo Williams, Adrian Henri, Seamus Heaney (3), Louis Macniece, Phillip Larkin (3), Tony Harrison, R.S. Thomas (2), Wendy Cope, Edwin Muir, John Stallworthy, Siegfried Sassoon, Roger McGough, John McCrae, A.E. Houseman (2), Walter de la Mare, Stevie Smith (2), Stephen Spender and W.B.Yeats.


  12. Rodney C. Walmer

    Sharon, I want to thank you once again, you have given me the courage to try one more in this format. I am thinking perhaps from some of my favorite country singers who have been the means of many of my inspirations.


  13. Rodney C. Walmer

    Amy, I am very sorry. You are correct of course, we are here to write and enjoy each others poetry. I can only say, in my defense, that I am on a never ending search for material to use with my students, and I let that need run away with me in this situation. Please accept my apology.


  14. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    Sharon, thank you for your kind words.

    Earl, this is not the blog for that discussion (believe me, my rhetoric would be quite different if we were on a political blog, but we’re not).

    I am the wife of a pastor, and with all due respect, please do not tell me what I "should" be feeling. Each one of us has a heart, a way, and a voice. But we need to be sensitive and stay off the soapbox on these things.

    Let’s get back to work! You, too, Rod! Oh – visit my blog if you want to know how I really feel!! Love to all, Amy

  15. Rodney C. Walmer

    Thank you Sharon, I am not so sure that I am very comfortable with the poem myself, but it is my first attempt at this format.

    Thank you Earl, I will surly make a poster from your statement and hang it up in my classroom. 🙂 And, in ten years, I am certain my students will thank you as well. 🙂 Though, there has been occasion where I have made posters like this, and other teachers have wanted copies, do you mind if others want a copy?


  16. Earl Parsons

    Amy – I am passionate, and sometimes passion can be misconstrued as anger. Nevertheless, mine is pure, patriotic, Christian passion. And, yes, I am firmly grounded in what I believe and why I believe. Nothing is more important to me than my Lord, my family, and my country.

    Maybe we shouldn’t discuss politics in a poetry forum, but why leave out such an important part of the American landscape? And, you, dear Amy, being a New Yorker, should be up in arms about what was done to that beautiful city. Your passion should be burning to make sure 9-11 never happens again anywhere on American soil. In my mind, 9-11 and politics go hand-in-hand, and that’s why I have passion.

    Please, believe me, I am not angry, but I am very, very passionate. If the voices of the passionate patriots are silenced, and that’s the goal of the liberals, America will do down in flames. I just can’t let that happen. I have to do my part. I wish every American would do their part.

    And I’m not trying to be flippant with you. I respect your opinion and rather enjoy the discussion. Happy writing to you, and may God bless.

    Rodney – Use whatever you want. I’d be honored to help out in any way I can. If you want, you can contact me by email and we’ll open a dialog. I may have other writings that may help you teach.

  17. S.E. Ingraham

    Rodney? You have done magic, that’s what you’ve done…
    And Carol, you with your slippers going out in the rain – you take my breath away. Sharon

  18. Carol A Stephen

    Always, the Miracle, a cento

    The eyes are
    sunlight on a broken column

    it is an ever-fixed mark
    that looks on tempests and is never shaken;

    it is the star to every wandering bark
    At its freezing point wind shatters.

    Easily as wind may lower and lift
    the sight shakes us.

    Thus, though we cannot make our sun
    stand still, yet we will make him run.

    There is always, like this, the miracle. Then there is after.
    I shall go out in my slippers in the rain.

    Carol A. Stephen
    August 1, 2008

    Thanks to:

    TS Eliot, Will Shakespear, Kazim Ali, Maggie Schwed, Andrew Marvell, Brian Brodeur, Jenny Joseph

  19. Rodney C. Walmer

    Night Dreams

    When the night has come
    We all want to change the world
    You know they didn’t even give us a chance.

    People asking questions lost in confusion,
    Temperature’s rising
    I wilt just like a fading flower,
    Love is the answer and you know that for sure.

    Yes is surrender you got to let it go
    Don’t need a sword to cut through flowers oh no, oh no
    Imagine all the people
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    But it takes so long, my lord

    And it’s true that it really only goes to show
    You’ll never know how much I really care
    Every night when everybody has fun
    They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
    what am I supposed to do?

    I was feeling insecure
    Nothing to kill or die for
    Don’t need a watch to waste your time oh no, oh no
    Say a little prayer,
    It’s getting better and better,
    Well we all shine on

    Ev’ryone come on
    Surely not to live in pain and fear
    So keep on playing those mind games together
    Even when I’m miles at sea,
    My body is aching
    My eyes are wide open
    I’m just sitting here doing time,
    Nothing is real and nothing to get hungabout.
    And I do appreciate you being round. . .

    ©Rodney C. Walmer 8/01/08.Written for the Cento “Cut up Technique” Poem writing. All of
    these poems come from Beatles, Lennon, McCartney, and George Harrison poems/lyrics.
    Although, I have no idea what I have done here, I want to thank you, Robert, for making me
    challenge myself once again.

  20. Robert Brewer

    Btw, my list of 21 poets for my poem is (in order of appearance): Elizabeth Bishop, Kay Ryan, Lucille Clifton, William Faulkner, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams, Walt Whitman, Frank O’Hara, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Christina Rossetti, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Ted Kooser, T.S. Eliot, Gwendolyn Brooks, Dylan Thomas.

    12 men and 9 women from different time periods and backgrounds, yet their voices blend together so well. Maybe that’s what makes their work timeless. 🙂

  21. Rodney C. Walmer

    Earl, that was very well stated. If you don’t mind, I would love to use part (not allowed to mention Christ) in my classroom for my students. I would of course quote you as the author. I do believe you to be one of the few honestly remaining patriots in this once great country. While I have never served (turned down due to health reasons) I have tried to make this country better through the education of my many students over the years. When I come across something someone has stated that I believe will help my students, I like to bring the words to them. So that they may see through the eyes of others what patriotism means. As many of you may know I teach math to the 7th grade a turning point in their lives. My students for the most part come from welfare homes, projects etc. They live in a world that many of us could never dream of, nor conceive of. Most of them have a mother, no father, mom has the boyfriend of the week in and out. They see drugs, violence, and misery on a daily basis. So, their views of things like presidency and this country are tainted very tainted. I try to help them to understand, after all it’s why I’m there. So, with your permission, I would like to take your words Earl, and make a nice poster out of them, and place it on my wall. Unfortunately I am not allowed to mention god in anyway. I would have to leave that out. 🙁 As a god fearing Cristian myself, I understand the loss in that, but it’s the law. For those of you who don’t know much about me, I am a Jewish/native American. Though, my mother is Jewish, I believe in our lord and savior Jesus Christ.


  22. S.E. Ingraham

    Well said Amy – as a Unitarian Universalist, one of our guiding principles is to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person – I agree that learning to treat others with love and respect is well worth the effort and truly important. And for this forum, I also agree with you about the political rhetoric and do not think this makes you a bad anything. I tend to agree with Voltaire who said something like, "I may disagree with what you say but I will fight to the death so that you may say it." (that is very loosely paraphrased but you get the gist)

    And Rodney – thanks for your kind words; they made my day…

    Sharon Ingraham

  23. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    Sara! You cited some kickass poets. I included Johnny Cash in my list of many classical poets – I was going to work in Ira Gershwin, but felt that, because of my subject matter, "Let’s Call the whole thing off" was a little light-weight, LOL.

    Nice, graceful. Do animals cry like humans? These things are so ethereal; it’s why I love poetry. Good job!

    Amy come and play!

  24. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    Earl – yeah, I am sure there are many disagreements on this forum. But we must learn to treat others with love and respect. You are extremely entrenched in your views, as am I. I’m also a former New Yorker (8 years, Manhattan) and remember the shock of seeing my old city devastated. I also remember that regular New Yorkers were never kinder to each other.

    As far as the White House goes, I do believe we should keep the forum free of political rhetoric. This does not make me a bad American, so please don’t think that way. Let’s just talk poetry – and again, I was only concerned for your longlasting anger.

    I wish you good things and great poetry to come! Peace to you and yours, Amy

  25. Sara McNulty

    Sorry mine is late; I was away with no computer!

    I built my house beside the wood
    so I could hear you singing
    and it was a sweet and it was good
    and love was all beginning

    Fare thee well my nightingale
    `twas long ago I found you
    Now all your songs of beauty fail
    The forest closes `round you

    Do animals cry like humans
    as I having lost you
    yowled flagged
    curled in a ball

    This is how
    we beat the icy field
    shoeless and empty-handed
    hardly human at all

    If today, I follow death
    go down its trackless wastes,
    salt my tongue on hardened tears
    for my precious dear times waste
    along that promised cave in a headlong
    Will you
    to mourn for

  26. Emily Blakely


    It’s time for a change
    to slow my thoughts
    and I love November
    for a landscape of love so vast
    an energy, a liveliness,
    brought tendrils of life.
    Thankful today
    someone says
    “Look who’s coming home!

  27. Rodney C. Walmer

    First, Salvatore, your poem is wonderful. Sharon, you have done something wonderful there, with Tears of God, Earl "Remember 9-11" strikes a chord with me, being a New Yorker. I remember the Twin Towers, and how proudly they stood a testament to human achievement. I would take my students there annually. Everyone else has done wonderful stuff here on this one. I am still considering my approach to it. So, I may need some time on this one.


  28. S.E. Ingraham

    Well Robert -I’ve been trying to find your poets but I’m stymied at a mere 8 and have deadlines to meet today so probably won’t get back searching until tomorrow. Here’s what I have so far:(in no particular order)

    Robert Frost’s,"The Road Not Taken"
    Dylan Thomas’,"Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night"
    Walt Whitman’s,"Song of Myself" (I forget which number)
    Allen Ginsberg’s,"Howl"
    Emily Dickenson’s,"Because We Could not Stop for Death".
    Carl Sandburg’s,"Chicago".
    Gwendolyn Brook’s,"We Real Cool"
    Elizabeth Bishop,"The Fish"

    I loved your poem incidentally; you set the bar very high.

    Sharon Ingraham

  29. Earl Parsons

    Amy,thanks for the love and respect, but I have no anger in my heart. I am a blue-blooded American Patriot who is sad about what’s happening to this great country of our. God has been removed, Satan has filled the void, and we’re on the path to our own destruction. My faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and my belief in the Bible keeps my heart full of love and hope. However, I cannot and will not stand silently by and let the lost drag us all to Hell with them. Instead, I will write what’s on my mind and pray for those who so desperately need to turn to the Lord.

    America is at a turning point in its history. This November the American people will speak and a new president will be elected. Who it will be is up in the air. Do we want the best man for America, or will we choose the sharp-dressed, annointed one? If we choose the latter, this may be the last free election we have. We’d better wake up now or we’ll be living in a Socialist society, wondering where our freedoms went. Of course, our downfall will only bring us closer to the return of Christ. I hope we’ll all be ready for that.

    You see; no anger in my heart. Just love and concern for the greatest country that has ever existed on this earth. I want America to prosper and survive. I want us to put God back in His rightful place. I want a true Patriot in the White House. And I want everyone to love America again.

    I know there are several poets in this forum who do not agree with my point of view, and that’s all right. Everyone has a right to their own opinion. I have a lot of peace in my heart about the way I feel about things. I love America. I love the Lord. And I love my family. I hate Satan, all that he stands for and all that he’s doing to ruin this nation.

    I am a Patriot and I spent over 20 years in the military defending your right to believe what you want to believe, say what you want to say, and do what you want to do. Over the years I have learned to love all mankind, even those who hate me or want to kill me. I pray that even the most wicked will find Christ and walk the streets of Heaven with me some day.

    I guess I’ve said enough. I just wanted to point out that there is no anger in my heart. I love you all.

  30. S.E. Ingraham

    The poets I used and their work are as follows:
    Anne Sexton:"Locked Doors","The Evil Seekers","Doctors","The Children","The Wall","The Fish that Walked" and, "The God-Monger".
    Leonard Cohen:"Light as a Breeze"
    John Greenleaf Whittier:"Snow-Bound:A Winter Idyl"
    Ralph Waldo Emerson:"The Snow-Storm",and, "Days.
    W.H.Auden:"In Memory of W.B.Yeats",and,"Stop All the Clocks".
    Walt Whitman:"A Noiseless Patient Spider"
    Edward Thomas:"The Owl"
    Hart Crane:"To Brooklyn Bridge".
    Martha Silano:"Harborview".
    Sylvia Plath:"Ennui".
    Robert Frost:"Stopping By Woods on Snowing Evening".
    John Donne:"And Death Shall Have No Dominion".

    Bless them all – their words inspire me still. I found I quite enjoyed this prompt Robert. And thank you for introducing us to Silano’s work – what a find!
    Sharon Ingraham

  31. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    My poem will also be reprinted on my blog,

    Come over and please, please comment, all critiques welcome!

    Beautiful uses of Gwendolyn Brooks’ "We Cool," everyone. She was the only poet I love whom I could not find a place for.

    Carla, sensual and fascinating. You are a powerful woman.

    Nancy, your Auden was a lovely ending.

    Mattos, thx for the complete references, and for good work.

    Earl, I say this with love and respect, I hope your heart has mended; that intense anger reveal in your poem a big load to bear over many years.

    Finally, Salvatore wins the Homeric Prize!!!!! Epic, a mighty work.

  32. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    Me and My Dad – A Cento

    A drunken, vainglorious lout
    Cruelty has a human heart
    For miserable aims that end with self

    Surprised with darkness
    The girl has taken to cry a lot at night
    From the second she opens her eyes
    a shout and a cry
    And the cold weight press wholly
    The pulse that chokes from within
    The heart stops
    Too deeply to tell
    I know I can’t be free
    a broken-winged bird that cannot fly
    The cry at the mouth of morn

    Then on his hynt legs he says, ‘I bes walk tall Im No. 1 now’
    I am the last word
    Remember that I have done thee worthy service

    Oh! hear a pensive prisoner’s prayer
    Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me
    That I may nod, my eyes glittering with dreams

    She finally left her luxurious home; it was on a moonlit night
    Praying and saying wild farewells
    From Hell unto a high estate within the utmost Heaven
    Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free
    love, sweetness, goodness
    In the deserts of the heart let the healing fountain start

    Returning years later truly bald except for a wig of blood and tears
    (Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in)

    Daddy, I have had to kill you – you died before I had time

    Robert, this was grueling and incredibly satisfying. Some grief; letting go of a line meant letting go of the poet who birthed it. I used a different poet for almost every single line, and they are, in order, truly angels:

    W.B. Yeats, Wm. Blake, TS Eliot, Wordsworth, Richard Brautigan. Kipling, Louise Bogan, Julia Ward Howe, Mary Jo Bang, Lord Byron, Johnny Cash, Langston Hughes, Joseph Campbell, Russell Hoban, Carl Sandberg, Shakespeare, Anna Letitia Barbauld, Psalms 4:1b (David), Paul Eldridge, Don Marquis, Robert Service, Poe, Wordsworth, John Milton, W.H. Auden, Allan Ginsberg, R. Frost, Sylvia Plath

  33. Sheryl Kay Oder

    The poets I used (in order) are Gwendolyn Brooks, Emily Dickinson, Billy Collins, Edgar Allen Poe, Billy Collins, Lewis Carroll, Billy Collins, William Blake, Edgar Allen Poe, Gerard Manley Hopkins,Ogden Nash, Edgar Allen Poe, Ogden Nash, Billy Collins, and Robert Frost.

  34. Sheryl Kay Oder

    We Real?

    We real cool-zero at the bone,
    bouncing from typewriter to piano.

    Many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore
    encourages the writing of more poetry.

    Brillig, and the slithy toves
    to find out what it really means.

    “Pipe a song about a lamb.”–
    Fancy unto fancy, like shining into shook foil.

    “Every Q needs a U,”
    Quoth the Milwaukee-talkie.

    Poetry fills me with joy,
    and that has made all the difference.

  35. S.E. Ingraham

    Tears of God

    It’s dark for the angels who inhabit this town
    But God returns them on foot, light as the breeze
    Darkly circled, a swan-like form
    They are mute, each sequestered in hate
    Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space.

    The river has started to freeze
    All of the night is quite barred out
    Except, feeling out of sight
    The mad wind’s night-work
    Muffled and dumb like barefoot dervishes
    Hunting wild with swiftness of the tigress
    Where no wounds were and no blood reached
    Shedding white rings of tumult, fraying strands
    In the nightmare of the dark, sadder than waning moon
    The stars are not wanted now; they crack like macadam
    Put out every one – nothing now can ever come to good.

    Those who court catastrophes, out of battle escaped
    The dead dream clogged their chariot wheels
    With miles to go and promises to keep
    Chill from rippling rest, confused weeds and wounding tides
    Nihilistic words in head, by mourning tongues
    They stop dying in the little ways
    Climbing their pain, one rung at a time
    Pity war distilled; tear it from its roots
    Though they go mad, they shall be sane.


  36. Nancy

    I Was Wrong

    About suffering they were never wrong,
    mixing memory and desire, stirring
    Dull roots with spring rain.
    yet all these shall leave
    Their mirth and their employments, and shall come,
    And make their bed with thee.
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    Nothing will seem surprised or sad again

    I don’t like such things ‘twixt those that love.
    Two that don’t love can’t live together without them.
    But two that do can’t live together with them.
    we should be careful
    Of each other, we should be kind
    While there is still time.
    Confluences come when they will and they go away.
    I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

    Nancy Posey

  37. LKHarris-Kolp

    Thine Eyes

    The night has a thousand eyes
    And will not let you sleep.
    Beauty, midnight, vision dies
    Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.

    The mind has a thousand eyes,
    For Fate with jealous eyes does see
    To that fair hand that dried thy blubbered eyes,
    I now remain, and all I see.

    Laurie K.

  38. Earl Parsons

    Remember 9-11

    So God lifted His protective hand and let Satan have his way.
    The evil fell from the skies and many thousands died that day.
    As Satan watched his army strike, he couldn’t help but laugh.
    He’d horrified America and stopped the country in its path.

    On a cool Tuesday morning a sleeping giant awoke
    As the world’s best-known towers went up in smoke.
    Then without any warning, they came tumbling down,
    The financial world had lost it’s crown.

    Still another of our landmarks was under attack.
    One wing of the five spewing smoke thick and black.
    Then panic set in from the east coast to the west.
    Could we handle this incredible mess?

    As the plane disappeared below floor 105,
    The shake that ensued threw me down.
    Explosions and screams broke the morning calm
    These were foreign and unwelcome sounds.

    Then outside my window on floor 105
    A ball of fire blazed by in a flash.
    My office went dark as black smoke filled the air
    Then reality hit me at last

    His plan seemed nearly perfect; the USA was on her knees.
    Satan bellowed "No!" as America prayed, "God, help us, please."

    Thank God for the willing
    Freely choosing to serve
    Proudly wearing the colors
    Of America’s best
    Thank God for the willing
    Walking into harm’s way
    Putting country over self
    Standing up to the test

    Unfortunately for the terrorists, their evil plan has sealed their own fate.
    For they’ve slapped the face of freedom, and insulted us all with their hate.
    We have come together like never before, with one goal that we must complete.
    To eradicate terror all over the world, we will not allow freedom’s defeat.
    This goal must be kept in our sights at all times, on our list it must be number one.
    Because evil will fight all the way to the end, with no caring of how the job’s done.
    America is united, and that way it must stay for as long as it takes to get through.
    The world will soon know what true freedom is; true freedom is red, white and blue.

    I skipped straight to the Cento from my own writings. These come from a few I wrote the week after the 911 attack on our nation.

  39. Paige

    And for my Attempt I present for you wonderment…

    A Spider, an Old Gumbie Cat and Beautiful Soup

    Will you walk into my parlour?
    I have a Gumbie Cat in mind,
    Waiting in a hot tureen!
    Who for such dainties would not stoop?

    If you’ll step in one moment, dear
    Will you rest upon my little bed
    And when all the family’s in bed and asleep
    With a purpose in life and a good deed to do
    On whom well-ordered households depend, it appears

    Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast
    For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.

    Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing
    Pennyworth only of Beautiful Soup?

    An adaption from: The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt
    The Old Gumbie Cat by T. S. Eliot
    Beautiful Soup by Lewis Carrol

  40. Mattos da Costa

    “In the greyness and drizzle of one despondent
    dawn unstirred by harbingersof sunbreak,
    “While I pondered, weak and weary, over many a
    Quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    “Serenely in the sunshine as before,
    Without the sense of that which I forbore—
    “The doubt of future foes exiles my present joy,
    “And I will luve thee still, my dear,
    “But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    “With no response to a friendly hail
    In the silent hush of the twilight pale
    “Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow

    “Five years have passed; five summers, with the length
    Of five long winters! and again I hear
    “TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    “Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
    “One morning thus, by Esthwaite lake…
    To me my good friend Matthew spake,
    And thus I made reply:
    “If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

    “And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
    And fare thee weel a while!
    And I will come again, my Luve.

    Many thanks to the following Poets in specific reference to their works (in order of appearance):
    – ‘Vultures’ by Chinua Achebe
    – ‘The Raven’ by Edgar Allen Poe
    – from ‘Sonnets from the Portuguese’, VI by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
    – ‘[The doubt of future foes exiles my present joy]’ by Queen Elizabeth I
    – ‘A Red, Red Rose’ by Robert Burns
    – ‘The Unknown Shore’ by Elizabeth Clark Hardy
    – ‘Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey’ by William Wordsworth
    – ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost
    – ‘Do not go gentle’ by Dylan Thomas
    – ‘Expostulation and Reply’ by William Wordsworth
    – ‘If-‘ by Rudyard Kupling

  41. Connie

    Poetry of Heaven

    All things that love the sun are out of doors;
    Deep in the orange light of widening morn
    The hillside’s dew-pearled
    Lovely, lonesome, cool and green

    Continuous as the stars shine
    On chaliced flowers that lies;
    While like the eagle free
    Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers

    I listened motionless and still
    Never saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
    What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
    Then Beauty is its own excuse for being.

    Lord Byron, Robert Browning, Sir Walter Scott, William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, Allan Cunningham, James Russell Lowell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Edgar Allen Poe

  42. Carla Cherry

    For Those Who Came Before: A Cento

    Black cat that will bring you luck,
    aphrodisiac you’d love to suck.
    I am a black woman, tall as a cypress, strong, beyond all definition
    I am so perfect, so divine, so ethereal, so surreal
    Nobody ever stops to think about my side of it.
    Remembering with twinkling and twinges
    I stand up
    Tell her glories with a faithful tongue
    This woman, wet with wandering,
    Reviving the beauty of forests and winds.
    My grandmothers were strong;
    They have many clean words to say.
    Make room for me to lead you
    beyond this rage of poetry.

    Thanks to the wonderful work of poets Nikki Giovanni, Mari Evans, Lucille Clifton, Maya Angelou, Sonia Sanchez, Phillis Wheatley, Margaret Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, Audre Lorde, and Jessica Care Moore

  43. Salvatore Buttaci



    Academies packed with scholars writing papers
    have no clue what fortitude is required––what patience!––
    to walk into an eighth-grade class and teach.
    Matt Flynn in row one, seat one, sprawls his gangly height
    as he slouches like a vacationer in his desk chair.
    He waves a blank sheet in my face, smiles and says
    defiantly for the benefit of his chick and the other chicks,
    It’s all I have to bring today.


    Objective: students will demonstrate their facility
    with compositional work. Procedure: Write a story…
    Remember as you pre-write, it is important to
    love a life whose plot is simple.
    Get to the point. Make your characters seem real.
    Create a problem your antagonist must solve.
    When I check out Janet’s “notes,” she hides them
    under her textbook, blushes, bites down on her lip.


    Write about your favorite comic book hero,
    Deer staring at the first winter snow,
    A dragon slayer who falls in love with a dragon.
    Procedure: ask students to read their first sentences.
    Strong enough? Attention getting? Focused?
    Mat Flynn pantomimes a hunter using binoculars.
    Good, Matt, I tell him, now write about it!
    Eddy Morales socks his cousin Diego in the arm.


    Work is love made visible
    Anywhere in the world perhaps, but not
    In this classroom with open windows
    And spring interjecting its magic and pollen
    While my students sniffle and sneeze
    And Flynn wants to make it perfectly clear
    Why he’s sitting there swatting imaginary flies:
    All words hate his guts.


    Objective: Have students work on their first drafts
    beyond the opening sentence. Adequate details?
    Clear description? Believable dialogue?
    We are diggers, like badgers; we love to feel
    The satisfaction that comes with their discoveries.
    Teachers with their lanterns leading the lost.
    Perhaps a mind will open in this world
    Of the classroom, I think a bit sarcastically.


    Procedure: Read the class a poem by Whitman.
    Discuss free verse. Ask about word choice.
    Janet in the last seat, last row, asks if the poet
    Is related to the people who make the candy
    And is it really true some verses are free.
    I tell them poems contain little galaxies.
    They are serious teachers these poems.
    Ain’t one teacher in the room enough? Asks Flynn.


    A hand goes up. Georgette wants to read a poem,
    Not Whitman’s. Hers. I will not refuse her.
    The poem is all about looking forward to better days.
    Georgette’s had a tough life. Her parents gave her up.
    And I say to myself: That’s true, hope needs to be
    Everybody’s poem. After she reads it, she gives it to me.
    Something has reached out and taken in the beams of my eyes.
    Walt Whitman would be proud to hear this girl’s song!


    Assignment: Write a poem of your own. Be original.
    Don’t surf the net for somebody else’s or steal Georgette’s.
    Let all your poems speak to us, let them all be
    singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
    Matt Flynn raises his hand. You want music with that poem?
    Even Morales finds that ridiculous. The class laughs.
    Can I write the poem and strum my guitar? Flynn wants to know.
    Again Morales: You need two hands to write poems!


    Objective: Discuss the difference between science fiction
    And fantasy. How are they similar? Where is the magic?
    What opens the door to another world out there?
    Procedure: Ask the students to talk about a movie
    That might have been one or the other.
    Dawn of the Dead, someone calls out. Hostel.
    Thankful for some feedback, I welcome it
    And I know somehow all will turn out well and I will
    grow old though pleased with my memories.


    Objective: To close the year with readings
    From the class poetry and story anthology.
    Even Matt Flynn has a good poem in the book
    Though he laughs about it as he reads it,
    I listen to them all. They make me proud
    And deeply fill my heart with peace.
    The books are whispering,
    I tell them. Flynn holds the book against his ear.

    © 2008 Salvatore Buttaci


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.