On Light

On Light

Maxwell Ryan
Feb 25, 2005
Untitled Document

Cento poems make great bedside reading, because cento is Latin for quilt. A cento is a sort of found poem literally "stitched together": every line is taken from another poem. It's a very old form, dating back to at least the 4th century, but it seems custom-made for our hyper-linked age. And it's a great form for D-I-Y types and renters (and those suffering from chronic writer's block), because the cento allows you to make something with what you're given, rather than building a structure from scratch. Selection is a form of invention. Make lemonade.

Here's a cento to celebrate our recent "stunning win"--click on each line to be taken to the source text.

		Light Reading
		Always the light recedes; with groping hands
		light reaches through a leaf,
		falls branch to branch, leaf to leaf, down to the ground.

		Light sinks and rusts
		how all matter dissolves, eventually, into energy:
		the moon will soon shine
		further than sunshine could.
		How long ago the day is.

		Sometimes a light surprises,
		a special kind of dark called light,
		the darkness thinking the light,

		ordinary light.
		When the light appears, boy, when the light appears--
		how pleasant the yellow butter.
		Light the first light of evening, as in a room
		in the flickering candlelight,
		a window, from which you can see clouds better than people,

		black pine tree in an orange light.
		We point at the moon with one finger,
		and hold it up to the light
		of night and light and the half-light
		of other days around me.

Send your Shelter Odes--including Bedroom Centos--to PoetLaureate@ApartmentTherapy.com by Feb. 28. Winner gets a book or a month of guest posts. (SGH)

Photo credit: George via Flickr

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