Write word-centos of poetry by Elizabeth Estella,
Brent Armendinger, C. L. S. Sandoval and Neil
Silberblatt. 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 Elizabeth Estella’s
“McBride Avenue, Paterson” *)

The city dove into dawn,
mourning a constellation of people
frozen in history,
shivering song
and crumbled
in god’s palm.

* Original poem by Paterson, NJ Poet
Laureate Elizabeth Estella published in
TAPintoPaterson. July 12, 2018.

NOTE: I changed “god” to “god’s.”



(a word-cento of Brent Armendinger’s
“The Flight Cage” *)

A sky of lungs adopted
an operation room,
he sleeps out the window,
an exit of string causalities,
war in his blood
can be viewed
inside a former cage,
so many years a soldier,
swallowed blood
flapping across the sky,
bars curve into puffs of clouds
holding death between water drops
from his eye.

* Original poem by Brent Armendinger
published in Conjunctions. Jan. 31, 2012.



(a word-cento of C. L. S. Sandoval’s
“Squint Test” *)

Hide and forget a superficial soul
stacked away, fade
into my alma mater and summers
vanish onto edges, dust-fire emotions
tattooed on my body, a lucky artist
sinking into an old armoire
of existence,
a voice unapologetic
fell into an abyss, evaporation
into the summer of myself,
my civil choice to refuse
to spread watercolors of my soul
into sketches of violence,
freshly painted ignorance,
an interpretation of summer,
of myself hidden in storage.
True ignorance questions something we deny,
something we squint at and force
to disappear
into academic symbols behind my soul,
my summer and myself
sinking into a faint childhood
I looked through without depth
and refused to obey a breath
that forgets true artwork,
true soul, true summers
that peer past evaporation
into existence,
a sober veil of enthusiasm
I wore
and across my paintings
pierced my soul with a
superficial image
of the life behind my life.

* Original poem by C. L. S. Sandoval
first published in Still Points Quarterly
in 2013. Reprinted in In a Woman’s Voice
in 2017 and in her poetry collection Soup

NOTE: I used “ignorance” instead of “ignorant.”



(a word-cento of Neil Silberblatt’s
“After the Tempest” *)

An infinite wind blew
cities’ twisted tsunami asleep
to absurd faith,
infant interred waves graze
their faith in a ward,
an arm of lint
to the wind.

* Original poem by Neil Silberblatt
first published in Verse Wisconsin.


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.