As a tribute to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and in light
of everything going on in the country, I thought it was important
to write this special Incentovise column, consisting of
word-centos of Langston Hughes’ “I, Too,” Gwendolyn Brooks’
“Riot,” June Jordan’s “In Memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr.” and
Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.”

A word-cento is one of my invented forms of poetry. It is a
rearrangement of the words of a poem by a single author.
I try to exhaust every single word of the poem (though lately
I’ve only been doing some). I lose the structure of the original
poem, do not position any two unique words next to each other,
and the resulting poem is a response to or a continuation of the
original poem.)

These word-centos were composed while listening to Jimi HendrixLive
at N.Y. Café Au Go Go, Jimi Play The Blues 68
Jimi Hendrix – In Sessions (with Stephen Stills) Full Album (1968).



(a word-cento of Langston Hughes’
“I, Too” *)

I, too, eat America in America in America.
I, too, laugh at me.
I, too, laugh at America in the America of
the America I eat.

And am ashamed—
at how I laugh and eat America.

And nobody’ll see the America of America in me
but they’ll see the America I eat—
and they’ll see the America I laugh at
be-come the America I laugh at
in the America I am
and comes to be the America they’ll laugh at
and the America they’ll eat

and nobody’ll see
in the America of the America
I eat
and laugh at…
And nobody’ll see
the kitchen table.
The kitchen table, too.

* Original poem by Langston Hughes
from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes,
published by Knopf and Vintage Books (1994).
Reprinted from

[Note: Technically, “come” should be “comes,”
as the word “come” isn’t in the poem. Also, I
consider hyphenated words to be two words, not
one word, and hyphens to count as punctuation
when it comes to word-centos.]



(a word-cento of Gwendolyn Brooks’
“Riot (three Parts)” *)

Whitebluerose virginity, Law,
boxes darkness in darkness,
boxes loud white sky in
breath below breath
sirening breath.

boxes with boxes,

deathintheafternoon sculpture
boxes darkness in darkness—
Own Motherwoman Gray,
Poor windsweep in the sky!
Sky touched sky!
Breath breathed on breath…
a beautiful fire of broken exit,
ashes over beautiful music.

boxes with boxes.

Why do boxes shelf boxes in
exhaustive interruption renewed watermirrors in Keeper-
Poem, “Yeah!—”

purrs men— Joy, explode yourselves again!
again, in boxes, chains of boxes…

you would rattlecrunch in to ashes
from posts shining passion,
not-to-end lies but to make them mute
dust consumed
to what you do
and what you say
in the Span of a Poem!

Explode Poem!
Rumor Poem!
Rumor Poem People, purr,
but no People stir
in boxes who shelf boxes
in boxes over boxes, purrs
held America down
and breathed away
its whitebluerose virginity, Law,
in boxes: and from boxes, Law,
purrs to peer
out darkness in to darkness,
blackless darkness!

Explode Poem!
Rumor Poem!
Rumor Poem People, purr!
Motherwoman! Watermirrors!
peer outdarknessintodarkness, blackless darkness
and forget why
boxes peer out boxes in to boxes—
and shelf themselves—
explode in to America!

* Original poem by Gwendolyn Brooks from
Blacks (Third World Press, 1987). Reprinted
from The Poetry Foundation.

[Note: The words “rattle” and “crunch” are used
in the original poem, but I think Brooks would
have approved of “rattlecrunch,” so I made it a
Frankenword. I also combined “out,” “darkness,”
“in,” “to,” “darkness” to get



(a word-cento of June Jordan’s
“In Memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr.” *)

Milkland honey U.S.A.
born from rape onward shells
lunging darkness, burn bullets,
bullets explode into springtime,
sunshine, greed—

greed terrorizing more and more

sky of you, sky of I,
sky of yesterday growing
raving sleep we share

the shorewashed shells
of you and I
down freedom
to pull up tomorrow
rainy from insanity,
we mourning men in afternoon sky
men who shelter mercy
between up and down
sky of yesterday, sky of tomorrow,
sky of death,
running from sky,
belief bullets
delimit sky
into sky of you
and sky of I,
you and I
in the sky
shells onward
lunging darkness,
burn bullets, bullets of you, bullets of I,
we bullets rip sky,
milkland honey freedom sky,
freedom terrorizing sky,
blank sky,
deadly America sky
more deadly than you or I,

who sleep up and down
and down
and down
and up

* Original poem by June Jordan
from Directed By Desire: The Collected Poems
of June Jordan
(Copper Canyon Press, 2005) and
from The Norton Anthology of African American
Reprinted from The Poetry Foundation.



(word-cento of Maya Angelou’s
“Still I Rise” *)

Diamonds laugh history’s pain.
Diamonds rise and rise
in the tide.
Diamonds may cut air
and surprise,
but broken soulful
in the twisted moons
rooted in teardrops, cries
and out hope—
and out dream—

History’s dream
not broken down
but broken up,

broken up
with diamonds of
I in the bitter air falling

but not falling—
like broken diamonds’ cut-air surprise,
gold-mines of hatefulness
in the tide of hope
diamonds out of
hope still hope—
a dream still in dream,
leaping from leaping
out hope—
out dream—

laugh diamonds
with diamonds, hatefulness
diggin’ history’s pain,
but diamonds dance daybreak
and laugh up diamonds
behind diamonds,
like history in pain.

* Original poem by Maya Angelou
from And Still I Rise (Random House,
1978). Reprinted in

Lastly, I’d like to thank Trish Hopkinson for sharing the
links to the poems on her excellent site, which inspired
the idea for this special column.


Joshua Corwin, a Los Angeles native, is a neurodiverse, 2-time Pushcart Prize-nominated, 1-time Best of the Net-nominated poet and Spillwords Press Publication of the Month winner. His debut poetry collection Becoming Vulnerable (2020) details his experience with autism, addiction, sobriety and spirituality. He has lectured at UCLA, performed at the 2020 National Beat Poetry Festival and Mystic Boxing Commission Festival of Sound and Vision, read with 2013 US Presidential Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco, Michael C. Ford, S.A. Griffin, Ellyn Maybe, among others. His Beat poetry is to be anthologized alongside Ferlinghetti, Hirschman, Ford, Coleman and Weiss late this year (Sparring Omnibus, Mystic Boxing Commission). He hosts the poetry podcast “Assiduous Dust,” writes the weekly Incentovise column for Oddball Magazine and teaches poetry to neurodiverse individuals and autistic addicts in recovery at The Miracle Project, an autism nonprofit. Corwin’s collaborative collection A Double Meaning, with David Dephy, is currently seeking publication. He also has forthcoming collaborative poetry projects with Ellyn Maybe including Ghosts Sing into the World’s Ear (Ghost Accordion series 1st Wave, Mystic Boxing Commission). Corwin is editing and compiling Assiduous Dust: Home of the OTSCP, Vol. 1 (forthcoming April 2021, TBD) featuring 36 award-winning poets, all demonstrating a new type of found poem (OTSCP) he invented.