Write word-centos of poetry by Melissa Studdard,
Cornelius Eady and Mike Sonksen. 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.
(a word-cento of Melissa Studdard’s
“After You Left” *)
Bury the silence you forgot
in your refrigerator, round
bottles of rain welled around
sorrowful stack of days
searching for silence
at the bottom of a glass.
* Original poem by Melissa Studdard
published in Berfrois. March 2018.
NOTE: I changed “sorrow” to
“sorrowful,” “bottoms” to “bottom”
and “glasses” to “glass.”
LOOK OUT YOUR WINDOW
(a word-cento of Cornelius Eady’s
We are alone, dreaming, waiting
for silhouettes to spill love out
the window we embrace empty
dreaming, waiting for
feet on floorboards to dance off
shadows on the glass.
* Original poem by Cornelius Eady
from Victims of the Latest Dance Craze
(Ommation Press, 1986). Republished
in Brooklyn Poets. September 2013.
INTO MY SOUL
(a word-cento of Mike Sonksen’s
“I Am Alive in Los Angeles!” *)
Wind blowing a tragic landscape,
citywide shortcuts to happiness
swiftly in my soul-stained sadness,
concrete responsibility for everything
dancing in a chain
from block to block
a web of magic molotov
into the wind that hits my face
with Miles Davis in the tunnel
to bottled-up destinations
I smile deep into loving my soul,
revel in the rising hilltops
with joy on inner-city porches
shower electronic music
magic around us
and I smile off the walls
as angles change into angels
and my soul deepens
this city racing nuclear around
a glow of people
and crowns a sunset.
* Original poem by Mike Sonksen
from I Am Alive in Los Angeles!
(iUniverse, 2006). Republished on
NOTE: I added the word “deepens.”
Joshua Corwin, a Los Angeles native, is a neurodiverse, 2-time Pushcart Prize-nominated, Best of the Net-nominated poet and Winner of the 2021 Spillwords Press Award for Poetic Publication of Year. His poetry memoir Becoming Vulnerable (2020) details his experience with autism, addiction, sobriety and spirituality. His work has appeared in Winning Writers, The Somerville Times, Palisadian-Post, National Beat Poetry Foundation, Stanford University’s Life in Quarantine and more. He has lectured at UCLA, published alongside Lawrence Ferlinghetti and read with 2013 U.S. Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco. 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 is the editor and producer of Assiduous Dust: Home of the OTSCP, Vol. 1, featuring a collaboration with 36 award-winning poets demonstrating one of his invented forms of poetry. He is currently working on an existential novel about an alcoholic lawyer plagued with suicidal ideation.