Write word-centos of poetry by Jalāl al-Dīn Rumī,
Gregory Corso, Sylvia Plath and Walt Whitman.
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.)
THIS HOUSE WON’T BE YOURS
(a word-cento of Jalāl al-Dīn Rumī’s
“The Pickaxe” *)
This house won’t be yours,
only demolishing will be yours:
a hidden carnelian buried shovel
with shovel: your deed digging
this house buried beneath you
and your restless digging: red
in the dirt digging dirt underneath
dirt, this house and the shovel
buried a hidden carnelian: ego
demolishing what will be yours.
* Original poem by Jalāl al-Dīn Rumī from
The Essential Rumi: New Expanded Edition,
trans. by Coleman Barks (HarperOne, 2004).
FAILURE, A DOWNFALLEN DREAM
(a word-cento of Gregory Corso’s
“To a Downfallen Rose” *)
Failure, dream the rose raw.
Eden awoke oblivious to the sun.
Sponge mountains of verses.
Unfold jewelled-heat from
my imposter hands.
Canned sun alone with gold
in the winter of Nothingness.
My body spoiled, bombed by a dream.
Pop hope furtherstill!
Waving self-created birth,
your tinhorneared forest
cannot see life
downfallen in a dream. . .
* Original poem by Gregory Corso
published in Gasoline (City Lights,
UNTITLED IN THE WINDOW
(a word-cento of Sylvia Plath’s
“Morning Song” *)
Echo blankly a mirror at the wind’s wake
A sea opens stars, distils gold notes
Echo our safety, slow, floral arrival
Magnifying the elements, we stand
Clear our nakedness, listen to the moth
Heavy in the window, wake to a handful of balloons
Bald voices flicker like a statue
In the wind’s fat
And stumble, a slapped cloud pink
Reflect night, gold in your mouth
Vowels whiten with love, breath
A handful of stars
In the window.
* Original poem by Sylvia Plath, Ariel: The Restored Edition
NOTE: I changed the words “flickers” to “flicker”
and “whitens” to “whiten.”
(a word-cento of Walt Whitman’s
“Spontaneous Me” *)
Spontaneous woman, curves, early hours
Blow pebbles yielding juice
Dripping purple poems, unseen glow
Dreaming crush’d love-sap down
The waist of aromas phallic
In the lusty night climbing
Fresh sea pangs, flesh-sensitive tide,
Oath pluck’d naked, sweats of flesh
Amorous sights at night ripen’d
By wholesome greed underlapp’d
Young and bashful, sworn hungry
Roaming, deep trembling, sting to rest
Naked eyes skulk over corrosion
In the limpid night of visions,
Wet lips’ private bank
Mounting day into night
And night into day
Hanging soft earth, whirling content,
Fingers carry me to mountain breasts
Apple hues glued to light, early hours
Dreaming hands, woods below
The earth I love
Firm woods wet in the deep night of sea
Flowers wild and tight
* Original poem by Walt Whitman published
in Leaves of Grass (Bantam Books, 1892).
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.