Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Metastatic ~ A Cento (Poem)

Metastatic ~ A Cento

I watch for some sign
it has gone beyond itself:


inside your rib cage.

The selfish gene that wants to live forever
is afterimage.

What awaits

— a milky web
a vast lace of calligraphy —

the knife cannot cut.

In the unknown world
bodily truths

learn to live together
redefine normal.

Marks I can't wash off
like blood

circle us

frame by frame
snarled in snow.

Poets of lines, in order of appearance:

Donald Justice, "Poem for a Survivor" in Selected Poems
Donald Justice, "At the Young Composers' Concert" in Selected Poems
Mary Oliver, "Carrying the Snake to the Garden" in Long Life
Jane Hirshfield, "Instant Glimpsable Only for an Instant" in After
Dave Malone, "Copper Sky, Red Suns" in View from the North Ten
Mark Jarman, Unholy Sonnets
Patty Paine, "Summary of the Night You Left" in Feral
Gustavo Perez Firmat, "Post-Op" in Scar Tissue
Mark Jarman, "On Learning of a Child's Memory" in To the Green Man
Craig Arnold, "Mistral" (Excerpt in Love, An Index by Rebecca Lindenberg)
Jane Hirshfield, Instant Glimpsable Only for an Instant" in After
Lucille Clifton, "quilting" in The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton
Karen Kovacik, "A Closed Concert" in Metropolis Burning
Lucille Clifton, "scar" in The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton
Mark Nepo, "Thoracic Surgery" in Surviving Has Made Me Crazy
Adrianne Kalfopoulou, "Stassi Ecclesia" in Passion Maps
Debra Cash, "Pour Out Your Anger in Who Knows One
Mark Nepo, "Ladders to Nowhere" in Surviving Has Made Me Crazy
Pat Borthwick, "Scan" in The Poetry Cure (Bloodaxe)
Kelly Cherry, "Wintering" in The Life and Death of Poetry


Kathleen said...

Oh, this is gorgeous. And scary. Perfect form for it, the cento. In a way, metastatic. Alas.

Peggy Rosenthal said...

Amazing, Maureen, how you are able to put together these disparate lines. I'm reminded of St. Paul's "we are many parts but all one body." All the many poets' lines that you choose work together to create the body of the poem… which, in a painful paradox, is about the physical body's breakdown. Thank you for this.

Joan Barrett Roberts said...

Maureen , I love the different forms that you allow your poetry to take. So interesting how you create a whole from many varied parts -- much like growing a flower garden!

Take care, Joanie

aprille said...

Hadn't come across this form before. It's a little like the spine poetry we did last Saturday. Can't be easy to pick the lines from here and there and make them cohere.

Laurie Kolp said...

Maureen... this is an amazing cento on such a timely topic.

S. Etole said...

I felt an uneasiness as I read.

Hannah Stephenson said...

Oh, wow! So interesting. And beautiful.

Ginny Brannan said...

"What awaits

— a milky web
a vast lace of calligraphy —

the knife cannot cut."

I read the poem twice and could not help but think of my sister-in-law, fighting the good fight with terminal liver cancer. Then I saw your tags for this and realized my impressions of the imagery that this poem conjured were absolutely on the mark. Wonderful capture of a very devastating disease. Thank you for sharing.

Beachanny said...

I thought that this so completely described the way cancer is, behaves, affects. I noticed someone else said the same better. Impressive list of references. The coolest thing about these type of poems, the invitation to read works you never have read. These sound impressive and amazing and will definitely go on my "to read" list.

A fabulous Cento!

Mystic_Mom said...

Wow. I'm at a loss for more than that. Just wow.

Britton Swingler said...

Beautifully disturbing and masterful as well. So seamlessly woven together.