From the Latin word for “patchwork,” the cento (or collage poem) is a poetic form made up of lines i.e. a found poem except a centro only uses lines from poems by other poets. Though poets often borrow lines from other writers and mix them in with their own, a true cento is composed entirely of lines from other sources.

I sometimes open chapbooks and pull them straight from the source. Sometimes, when I’m reading and a powerful line grabs me by the gut, I will jot it down in a poetry journal – sometimes friends assign me lines. And then I manipulate them, make them my own, find the story they are telling.

Here are some examples below

The Formed Eye

Soundcloud audio

The fog is in the fir trees,
now dragging its slimy belly
on the bank.
Even the dirt keeps breathing
a small death.
Taken from the ocean,
the river turns upon itself.
in the dark time, an eye
begins to form.

Let us go then, you and I,
the Cambridge Ladies who live in
furnished souls,
who never dreamed of incarnate
gaps in time and space,
but of a world of knights,
wizards and Love.
Let us go then to imaginary gardens
with real toads in them.
But the flowering lily pads
are moody, lapping their glossy sides
as if trying to hide
the slightest flaw, but
failing completely.
And the warm eye in the sky
is gone
and there is no light.
I knew not that you
had covered my eyes, as
you led me down a path
of twists and turns; a
descent follows, endless and

One must have a mind of winter,
biting clear and cold,
who sees, who steps, who calls in a
blessed rage for order.
When sisters separate, they haunt
each other: you know in
not to sing.


Is what to make of a
diminished thing
when one is not allowed
to fight or think,
when people twist your intentions
and thoughts.
The eye that is formed
the judging, hypocritical
eye, screams out the damning
sentence, and I am damned.
You take me as I am and made
of me what you will;
I, too, dislike it.

Obviously the wrong choice, that
is the only answer to your
question, but you already knew it.
For me, there is no salvation.
Pray for me, for I am a
selfish child believing that
I dare question the authority of
your clear understanding, and
struggle when you try to rid me
of my devils.
Fast for the courage to
exorcise my imperfections &
make me worthy of your love.

A descent follows,
endless and indestructible,
Destroying that which took so
long to build. Tearing
at everything of worth, until
at the depth I drag
my slimy belly to the bank.
When I have fears
that I may cease to be,
threatened to be swallowed
by the incarnate gaps of time and
space … and forgotten.
there is no Salvation for me.


Sources: Poets.org, Wikipeadia