PAD 2022 – Day 30

The big finale! Like every April that I attempt a poem-a-day challenge, the month has flown by, and I can barely remember anything I wrote. May becomes a quieter month, of re-reading and polishing.

Today’s prompt asked for a cento, which is a form I have never tried before. This is a poem that is made up of lines taken from other poems. If you’d like to dig into an in-depth example, here’s John Ashbery’s cento “The Dong with the Luminous Nose,” and here it is again, fully annotated to show where every line originated.

My lines come from a variety of poems posted under the Poetry Foundation’s “Poetry and the Environment” category. I plan to post an annotated version of this, listing all the poems and poets, when I get a chance. But for now it comes incomplete, but appropriate, on a day when I’m about to host a workshop and reading at the Edmonton Poetry Festival about poems that address the climate crisis.

a deer walked into the house while I was writing at the kitchen table
(or: a cento for the end of the world)

the earth says have a place, be what that place requires.
this sort of song tells a certain sort of story,

that it is we who are important.
a story about having something 
and then losing it.

then, even here
life will be different, good tillable land so dear.
flames pour forth when the faucet’s unstopped.

here the worst ever. every tree hurt. 
how easy it is to live with little deaths
their beauty has more meaning
in past tense.

the deer
looked at me with a stilled defiant terror, like a thing with no choices.

what will survive us
has already begun
Photo by Chris F on

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