A cento is great way of showing the force of single lines and reconfiguring existing poems into mix-and-match wonderfulness. J. Fossenbell has taken three poems from Issue Five–PLAYING HOUSE by Sandra Simonds, TO-DO LIST by Alexis Orgera and THE STREETS MAY TURN TO PAPER SUDDENLY by Kat Dixon–and shuffled them around to build a whole new mutant:



Ask yourself, What do I want to say about the giving tree?

Say, and I really fucking love _____. Say how
unlucky it is to have. I have one broken finger
dedicated to this poem.

I live in a night-house; live where daylight ain’t gonna
bring me a cup of coffee, the newspaper, a noose.

Imagine yourself as the boy and see yourself
pound out your name if you had one.
I am neither shadow nor wife. I have no hand for
episodics, how they soar, how they land.

Comfort. Remember and remember that you
climb. Think of it from the perspective of one
book (and cower). And so you are at home together, after hours.
Just you and the knots.

Take anger out on winter, the things winter leaves:
they are green with life. This pill-by-pill makes one
tongue I would take a sledgehammer to
penetrate, windowless but thin-walled so you hear
another copy of this poem in the same world one over.

O you like the plague. O you who have written
a music of crescendo. A woman in this house talks and talks
of meats for guests who come to fill her house and how
the breeze outside, it isn’t the strongest thing.

Up the rope throat to the tree house into her
and you shouldn’t shut her up. A sewn woman,
history proves, equals a hibernating—
still but I am no wife. Check through these windows at my
room of worn-out things.
The garbage bag leaks fermenting juice.

That happens. How unlucky to have a secret, women
of the wind. No, the sound of violins! Music of penitence,
O you like a trick!  The electronic stars
question your otherness, if only to question your own
tears. Know that you protected someone.

Take away the present, and you’re left.


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