Write word-centos of poetry by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
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.

 

STRUNG-OUT ON AMERICA

(a word-cento of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s
“In Goya’s Greatest Scenes We Seem to See . . .” *)

Suffering landscape, scenes writhe
people of imagination
in bloody rage, strung-out on America
painted plates
illustrating slippery roads of adversity,
strange
bland babies blasted bayonets,
hollering the real moment,
illusions upon the page of
imbecile citizens, bent cocks,
freeways groaning under skies:
title, humanity.
Cars devour happiness.
We see the world of cadavers,
people of the billboards,
heaped-up monsters, disaster-plagued
windmills of change,
demented wings on roosters, statues,
people strung-out on false happiness,
people we devour,
people away from home.

* Original poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
from A Coney Island of the Mind (1958).
Reprinted from Poetry Foundation.

 

MAFIOSI TOMBSTONES

(a word-cento of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s
“Queens Cemetery, Setting Sun” *)

Mafiosi tombstones
echoing dirt dancers
conmen and ragtime bouncers
endless dustbin sun delirium
rows of horizon graves
old pawnbrokers’ expressway
slabs shadows beyond roofers
cigar sweepers and cabinet statues
of oblivious America

* Original poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
from These Are My Rivers: New and Selected
Poems
(1993). Reprinted from Poets.org.

 

CORPORATE ORACLE

(a word-cento of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s
“To the Oracle at Delphi” *)

Corporate oracle dreams diamond megaphone
of electronic light,
Poor civilization singing silent days
around constellation highways,
dark American plutocracy of despair,
democracy a dream.

Corporate oracle carrying ourselves
to a lighthouse,
a corporate temple sea
of centuries,
a new Empire
staring over us
into your future cave,
sleeping through myths wild,
winged days awaken despair,
a voice in the sea
of rulers.

* Original poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
from San Francisco Poems (1998).
Reprinted in Poets.org.

 

THE WORLD IS BORN DYING

(a word-cento of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s
“’The World is a Beautiful Place’” *)

The world is born dying
Dead bomb making the scene fun

The world is born dying
Prey to distinction, flowers waving
the world around the mortician

The world is born dying
Patrolmen smelling babies

The world is born dying
Babies sing to a mortician

The world is born dying
walking around dead minds
a beautiful place
a world starving

The world is born dying
segregations and inspirations
heaven a beautiful place
born dying
Priests smiling at summer
kissing improprieties
investigations of flesh

The world is born dying
swimming with the mortician
Living Dead
our Brand Name
born dying
wearing extinction
and happiness

* Original poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
from These Are My Rivers: New and Selected
Poems (1993).
Reprinted from Poets.org.

 

Joshua Corwin, a Los Angeles native, is a neurodiverse, 2-time Pushcart Prize-nominated, 1-time Best of the Net-nominated poet and 2021 Spillwords Press Award for Poetic Publication of Year 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.