A Kind of Cento – Poetry by Emily Strauss

like dry leaves scattered in a field
patchwork garments hang from the fence:

a collage of words pieced like a quilt
of cast-off clothes, assorted lines where

torn shirts blow in the yard over dried
honeysuckle, relentless heat pulling at seams

and tempers until they rip open finally
useless shreds scissored later into neat

squares, stitched together, reassembled
without rhyme into new shapes seam by seam

until the duvet is covered up, faded colors
captured in whole cloth, the lines turned even

and fractious voices mended into a choir
singing a warm morning still waiting for drops

of rain to dampen the hard dirt, laundry still
flapping in the dust, leaves blowing in eddies

in the noon wind, a new form rising from
fragments, a melange of speakers,

fresh art drawn in erratic sutures
across the old fabric, cento poem sewn.


About the Poet

Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 500 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. She is a Best of the Net and twice a Pushcart nominee. The natural world of the American West is generally her framework; she also considers the narratives of people and places around her. She is a retired teacher living in Oregon.

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