JK Cento

JK Cento
by Ben Macnair
(A three part Cento using lines by John Keats and Jewel Kilcher)
Part 1
O, leave the palm to wither by itself.
Though I am 8, my Father is 63 years old.
He would not stop at home.
Full of muscle.
And, piteous she looked on,
With all the patience of stars,
Dead and senseless things,
Caught on the crosswires.
Part 2
My Madeline! Sweet Dreamer! Lovely Brooke
Together, we have sensed distance.
Once you are gone, my game gets stronger.
Never mind, quoth the Raven,
Passive aggressively,
Flapping like an archaic flag.
Meanwhile, in other realms, big tears were shed,
Until my consciousness could return,
And spit out the bad seeds.
Part 3
I have just caught a glimpse,
And of thy Lillies, that do paler grow
In the South West of England,
I don’t suppose raindrops
Danced along with vague, regardless eyes,
While past the vision went in bright array.

0 thoughts on “JK Cento

  1. A Cento is a poem compiled from different sources; “JK” presumably referring both to John Keats and Jewel Kilcher.
    Part 1 describes what seems to be a girl’s plight, estranged from her father due to their age difference and lack of proximity. She is the palm left to “wither by itself.” The image that follows her ‘looking on’ really grabs me. The “crosswires” could be a reference to modern utility lines meant to connect but which don’t. One can see the “dead and senseless” stars “caught” on them.
    Part 2 describes what seems to be a distant relationship with a friend or companion, Madeline Brooke. The narrator gets stronger in her absence. The Poe reference adopts a sardonic tone (I like the Raven “flapping like an archaic flag.”) We aren’t told what “other realms” the poem goes to, but one would guess there comes a falling out with Brooke (“big tears were shed”) precipitating resentment (spitting out “bad seeds”).
    Part 3 describes what seems to be a glimpsed vision of “thy Lillies” washed away, I think, by something other than “raindrops…with vague, regardless eyes.” Could they be tears, sending the lillies’ “bright array” into the past? Those eyes are like the stars in Part 1, and the feeling in Part 3 could be that regret of distance in Parts 1 and 2.
    I would say we are experiencing the trauma of separation in three different but shared ways.

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