Thirteen Lines

blue-eyed grass with its gold hexagon/ no marsh
marigolds where the water rose/ a farmer hacking at
sourdock, at the strangle-roots of thistles and wild
morning-glory/ as the sun yellows the green of the
maple tree/ the sunk fires, glozed with crusted dark-
red jewels;  crickets jingle there/ wheat  barley  oats
poppy  coriander/ nightfall, that saw the morning-
glories float/ when the sun has fallen behind a
wooded island/ evening strains to be time’s vast
womb-of-all, home-of-all, hearse-of-all night/ the
wind was gone and there was no more knowledge
then/ climate, climate is not southern, a little glass, a
bright winter/ glass-glint of wave in the tide-rips
against sunlight/ smoke is on the hills; rise up


Source: This cento is a collage of lines by well-known poets. Each of the 13 lines (indicated by diagonal marks) is by a different poet featured in the anthology Earth Took of Earth, edited by Jorie Graham; The Ecco Press, 1996):

Paul Goodman, “Pagan Rites”
Lorine Niedecker, “Paean to Place (and the place is water)”
Amy Clampitt, “Beethoven, Opus III”
John Ashbery, “As One Put Drunk Into the Packet Boat”
Wilfred Owen, “Exposure”
Robert Duncan, ” A Poem Beginning With a Line by Pindar”
James Wright, “On the Skeleton of a Hound”
Theodore Roethke, “The Shape of the Fire”
Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves”
A. R. Ammons, “Guide”
Gertrude Stein, “Tender Buttons”
Ezra Pound, “Canto II”
Jean Toomer, “Karintha”

Jeanne Shannon‘s work, including poetry, memoir pieces, and short fiction, has appeared in numerous journals and in three full-length collections.  Recently she has had poems in Tule Review, Descant (Canada), and Solo Novo, among others.  She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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