#438: Human Nature (a cento on April 30, 2022)


As it is the very last day of April, hence, the last day of National Poetry Writing Month, I kind of wanted to go out with a bang–to do something ambitious. That’s the worst way, FYI, to begin a writing thing. “Today I am going to do something great” is a path to abject failure. In reality, I let the morning go by feeling a total lack of ambition toward greatness and a bit of resistance welling up against any kind of writing whatsoever. I looked again at today’s prompt from Napowrimo to write a “cento.” You may well ask, what’s a “cento”? From the Academy of American Poets website: “a cento, from the Latin word for ‘patchwork,’ is a poetic form composed entirely of lines from poems by other poets. Okay. I’m in. I’m stealing from a gaggle of modernist poets found in a collection at the Poetry Foundation website. Turned out to be more “ambitious” than I anticipated. Win!

Human Nature: A Cento

Let us go then, you and I,
as freedom is a breakfastfood,
in long alleys
over a wide solitude.
It is human nature
to stand in the middle of a thing;
the imagination, the one reality
in this imagined world–[where]
the children learn to cipher and to sing.
For we can still love the world, who find
the ocean flowing backward,
heavy with shut-flower’s nightmares
as thought’s intricate polyphonic.
I was of three minds,
a kind in glass and a cousin.
Surely, the Second Coming is at hand.
As freedom is a breakfastfood
beneath the music from a farther room.

Published by michaeljarmer

I'm a public high school English teacher, fiction writer, poet, and musician in Portland, Oregon

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