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A Hastily Thrown Together Cento

Updated on August 2, 2009


The following poem is a cento.  A cento is a particular type of poetry that I like to call a "condoned rip-off."  The cento form allows you to draw from other people's work- you can take lines from novels, from the newspaper, from the Bible, whatever.  Then you put the random lines together in any order that pleases you.  Sometimes you can tell whole stories using a cento.  Other times they are just short poems.  You can also add your own lines to the others, mixing and matching until no one knows who wrote what. 

In the following cento, I drew from many different sources:  The Great Gatsby, The Bhagavad Gita, The Color Purple, and even a quote that I found painted on a rock.  The first section is all other people's work.  The second section is my own writing, and a semi-response the the first.  Enjoy!


“The more you look within, the more beautiful you will find yourself to be.”
This then was the story that Henry Garnet told his friends over the bridge-table.
“Come to the peace beyond- My peace, the peace of high Nirvana!”
Sophia laugh, git up.  Put both arms round his neck.  They slow drag out cross the floor.
And now in his grief Hari, for the first time, longed with all his heart and soul to be a lion.
He was struck by the beauty of those free-flying forms, twisting and spinning and looping, like shards of crystal flung into the air by some ecstatic Dancer.
"I been scared," he say.  "Scared."  And he cover up his eyes.

In the darkness, he sees truth.  In the darkness, he sees himself.  And he is beautiful.
Crystal confetti flies in the air, like ten dollar bills in a money booth.  He is the lucky contestant.  He catches the money, the translucent rock chips.  In his hands, a small pile of iridescent powder.  Crystal.  Pure power.  He snorts it.  He comes off the couch.  Sophia look at him like he crazy, laugh.  He swings his head in slow motion, a lion shaking its mane.  A million glittering drops fly off his beard, he laughs like Jesus.  “I am alive!” he shouts.  “I am the king of the world!”


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