Thursday, September 27, 2012


Samuel Peralta is manning the bar at dVerse tonight and bringing his usual wealth of information and grand style, Sam introduces one of my favourite but often over-looked forms - the cento - do go there and check it out ... maybe give one a try.

Caught in common places is
What madness is it that hurls me
Wakes the lonely echoes round
From the ancient heart of the deep
Shimmers in the pale sky
Using the wind, pretends to catch fire

Though my mind knows
The world is made forever
Dear lines that map the nation
Or so you suspected, alone in your house
The road, like poem progresses
Slammed into a universe of spiralled pearl

Something is eating away at me
An endless song about going down
Like a magnet of blood sealed from sun
To rest on my dark pools its breathless enveloping
Your fair innocence to my guilt

Lay down the shape about someone’s insides
I suspect there’s a secret society, the opalescent model
Judiciously brightening skies, helping losers to sail away
Through particular landscapes, beat to hell
The scrabble of minute claws, they broke on the palate
Where we tried to live as the splendid wolf
Supped the sacrament of death and we love it

By my own embers, so  I am aware of it only
Over sand I move silently, spared pain and unnecessary grief
Dawn winds whisper between the hedges and the town
Thick-perfumed and luxurious
Immortal beauty in her breathless flight
I told her rather cruelly, dangling from the swing
Just to rest and forget, slumber with lure of an out-lived mirth

The collective dream slept into knowledge
The close watching of abrupt birth
How brief their day beneath our five year moon
This is a cold country and there is nothing here
The lessons of pain;  a code we have not learned to decipher
Spin towards the horizon using the wind to set course

A cradle of lines dreamed in fear, drooped in prosperous curves
I pray the world believe me, life is caught inside our cheated hearts
How long was he standing there, all thunder-winged, trying to be brave
Cradled is he, half-naked and grimed; our little sphere is crying for her father
That raw desire was a wound of might, the kind who wore a bruised suit
Torn jagged open, a relationship with light is necessary

We miss the messages written in places
Necessary to reserve a secret vice
When I am dead, the pint-sized coffin
Shall fly over me, the miniature jaws open
The shout of triumph in their throat
It follows rules of even rows, hand of faith upon my fears
Bear with me, bear with me
Give my emotions an animal’s name
Tuck it all up, I’ve done their desire
To symmetry and rhyme, these fleet halcyon days
Keep our steps in balance, comfort cloak us.


Poets Cited and their works used (all of them Canadian)

Candas Jane Dorsey* :celestial events, tear, chain reaction, you among the orchids, Visibility, right this way, till you come face to face and recognize you
Irving Layton: I Would for your Sake be Gentle
Susanna Moodie: The Dying Hunter to His Dog
L.M.Montgomery: A Request
Margaret Atwood: In the Secular Night
Alice Major: Symmetries of dilation
Susan Musgrave: Things That Keep and Do Not Change, The Moment, The Laughter in the Kitchen
Alden Nowlan: For Claudine Because I Love Her
Bliss Carmen: Earth Voices, A Mountain Gateway, Garden Shadows, Tent of Noon
Isabella Valancy Crawford: Songs for Soldiers
Gwendolyn McEwen: Memoirs of a Mad Cook
Michael Ondaatje: Bear Hug
P.K.Page: Your Hand Once...
F.R.Scott: North Stream
A.J.M.Smith: For Healing
John Newlove: That’s the Way Everything Is
Ralph Gustafson: The Trail under Mount Michael
Marjorie Pickthall: Marching Men, The Lamp of Poor Souls
Charles G.D. Roberts: Cambrai and Marne
Leonard Cohen: I Left a Woman Waiting
Robert W. Service: The Song of the Wage-Slave
Al Purdy: Separation
Phyllis Webb: Eschatology of Spring
Shirley A. Serviss: Learning to Read
Earle Birney: My Love is Young

*I like to mention that I've had the privilege of learning from Candas Jane Dorsey during a novel writing course through the University of Alberta. Not only is she a formidable poet (with many books of poetry published –Leaving Marks, Results of the Ring Toss, Orion Rising, to name a few), she is also an accomplished novelist (Black Wine, A Paradigm of Earth). She is truly one of Canada’s unsung heroes.

I read with a group here in Edmonton (the Stroll of Poets) that both Alice Major and Shirley Serviss belong to (Major and I have served on the same boards actually, and Serviss has introduced me to a unique poetic volunteering experience at a hospital here, "Artist on the Wards". Having access to one's heroes so early in the game is inspiring beyond belief as might be imagined...


  1. Amazing, Sharon! Love the fourth and last stanzas especially.

  2. at all the references you used and spun something that has marvelous flow....i have several favorite parts...the last stanza in particular i felt really gripping...from the messages to the coffin to...really wicked cool weave tonight....

  3. Honestly...I am speechless!What a fantastic effort put into the prompt...with equally fantastic results!

  4. I am very impressed. The lines from various poets work together so well that one would not realize they were written by different people at different times. Bravo.

  5. This wonderful cento flows magnificently from start to finish, and is a great tribute to all the poets represented into it. With all this diversity, I can imagine what an effort it must have been to put it together. Bravo!

  6. This is beautiful specially the last stanza ~ I appreciate your time and effort in creating this lovely post ~

  7. Wow - amazing to me that you could put something like this together. Very well done. Especially liked - The lessons of pain; a code we have not learned to decipher, k.

  8. The multitude of sources is astounding, this was clearly a labor of love that resulted in a work of art. I'm awestruck.

  9. Wow! you sure put in a lot of work into this and so well worthit by the way :)...Thanks for stopping by!

  10. oh epic write and such a great choice of artists you put must have been such a lot of work..well done..

  11. Nice display of the cultural fruits of Canada

  12. On word... amazing!
    I am in awe at this. I love how you used all Canadian writers and that you had the honour of knowing such a famous poet/writer too. Such a LOT of work must have gone into this too.

  13. Truly fantastic Sharon! I just can't imagine. Any ordinary poet cannot make references on such a listing of Canadian luminaries(and to think I had only one person R W Service for inspiration) You are able to do it as you're schooled in the intricacies of poetry for which I have great admiration. Brilliantly written, Ma'am!

    P/S Pl confirm Centon is singular. Thanks

    1. So happy you drew my attention to what essentially was a typo but one I kept making and just not seeing in my proofing ... the form is, of course, a "cento" and there is no such thing as a "centon" (if you don't believe me. just try looking it up in any dictionary!)Thanks Hank ...

    2. Sharon,
      I thought centon was singular and cento the plural form. John commented that he had never come across centon. Now that you've confirmed it I'll correct my posting. Thanks Ma'am!


  14. What can I say. I'm rather speechless. This is so very impressive. The quality and quantity of your sources is only surpassed by the beauty of the poem you wove from their works. Amazing job.

  15. Wow! masterful - this is seamless and powerful writing - you have inspired me to read more Canadian writing

  16. What a rich wealth of language, as one scrolls down the page - your sources are impressive and you created an amazingly fluent poem from their works.

    Thanks for mentioning Candas Jane Dorsey - I had not heard of her and will check her are fortunate to be studying with her.

  17. Your ability to weave so many poets into your work and have it flow so superbly is amazing. So very creative and unique.

  18. Truly wonderful, I was lost in this verse, just superb as Susie says above. A brilliantly woven piece, dark, mysterious that allows the reader to submerge themselves. I loved it!

  19. Stunning- particularly loved the 'By my own embers' stanza - K

  20. I'm captivated by your effort and what you have achieved with this form. So many parts that I enjoyed, especially the ones with rich imagery like this: "Like a magnet of blood sealed from sun" and "halcyon days", is lovely also and the comfort in the ending. I love all of the movement with the elements. Wonderful piece.

    Thanks so much for visiting my way and leaving me a lovely comment. :)

  21. Pardon the pun, but this blows me away! Just an amazing, cohesive collection of poetry/poets that melds into one perfect piece.

  22. wow...amazing compilation...well done.

  23. Wonderful compilation. It flows so smoothly - like one poem. You have done a great selection and combined them really well.