Tag Archive | cento poem


fallen s

I wanted to approach Alice Neel’s painting “Symbols”, my prompt-choice for The Kick-About #5, in a different way than I had done previously.  The inspiration for this 3-D collage came when I was cleaning out some papers and came upon the paper insert for the Evanescence cd “Fallen”.   The cover photo of Amy Lee seemed to echo the face of the doll Neel had painted.

Symbols_Alice Neel

upon my end I shall begin–
I’m going under

I’ve been sleeping a thousand years it seems
without a thought without a voice without a soul

the truth drives me into madness,
my spirit sleeping somewhere cold

no one’s there–
never was and never will be

save me from the nothing I’ve become,
return to me salvation

maybe I’ll wake up for once,
fallen angels at my feet

let me stay,
bow down and stare in wonder

I know who you are–
the goddess of imaginary light

fallen close up s

This was music my younger daughter played over and over in her adolescence, and it was fun to go to YouTube and pull up the songs.  I still like them.  Maybe I even like them more now.  Amy’s voice is a force, and she can be way over the top.  But the gothic flavor of the music seemed also apt to the painting.

purple sky s

As I did recently, I did the main collage on a fold out card so it could stand up.  I then created a field of paper flowers and a purple sky inspired by the lyrics of the song on the Fallen album called “Imaginary”.  Then I photographed it from a few angles.  Above and below are all the individual elements.

fallen flat s

paper flowers s

The poem is a cento, composed from lines in the songs on the album.

How does all this relate to Alice Neel’s painting?  As reflected in my previous collages, I think Neel is addressing her struggle as a woman, a mother, an artist, a person constrained by family and cultural circumstances.  She lost her oldest child to her husband’s family who considered her an unsuitable mother. The life she chose was not easy, but she never gave up her need and her right to make her art.  Must a woman be only a virgin mother or a childless whore?  And why should gender determine who we are or what we can be at all?

You can see the other collages I did based on this painting here.

I would be remiss if I did not include a few Evanescence videos.  If it’s not your style of music, you can turn the sound down and just enjoy the visual barrage.

And here’s a live version of “My Immortal”, the hit from “Fallen”.  That’s the song I remember coming out of my daughter’s room.


Cento for Frank O’Hara and Joan Mitchell

jm 11a

It is 12:10 in New York and I am wondering–
suppose you really do, toward the end, fall away into a sunset
that grows in darkness, embossed by silvery images–

(and of course we are weeping larks)

Are you crying over what we’ve lost–
rattling leaves and rotting snow
in the empty streets of New York?

Through the streets! Emerald dust whirls.
It is drifting, like a kiss on the air
which the moon had summoned with
the dashing snow! The pure! the fierce! the free!

Isn’t that what the tree means? The pure pleasure
of us, crying its heart
for memory, green thumb up.

                                                                The moment’s gone.

Wet heat drifts through the afternoon.

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday.
The voices began, like so many daggers
while she whispered a song along the keyboard.

Love, love, love–
why do you play such dreary music?

Snow is falling on the sidewalk
and air and noises of Manhattan
are pulling out. And as the sun comes up,
starlings are singing.

Avenues are made for crossing.
I walk through the luminous humidity–
the only thing to do is simply continue.

And when you grow old as grow old you must,
I’d like to have a silver hat please.


The prompt for NaPoWriMo today was to play with lines.  I took it literally, extracting lines from Frank O’Hara poems, and arranging them to make this dialogue of friendship, nature, and New York.  O’Hara had a long and collaborative relationship with painter Joan Mitchell–the collage was inspired by her painting, “Hemlock”.

Postcard Fiction: A Call to Arms (Freedom #2)






When I began my response to Jane Dougherty’s prompt “Freedom”, I first looked in my collage box of faces for couples that seemed to work together.  At the same time I was thinking about the Secret Keeper’s words for the week of October 3rd:  BRAVE – TEND – PURE – LEAD – DANCE .

I decided to do a Cento Poem, one that takes its lines from the works of other poets.  I like to play with words, and this is also a good excuse to read a lot of different poetry by a lot of different poets.  So I collected poetic phrases that contained the words (not that difficult with google at your fingertips) and played around with different arrangements.


This couple seemed to fit the spirit of the words.  And given the state of the world, perhaps I was anticipating the state of mind I would need for 2017…


O my brave soul!
Untended there beneath the heedless sky
leap and sparkle, dance and shine
in a world of pure imagination
Up and lead the dance of Fate!

 Poets, in order of appearance:
Walt Whitman, Sidney Lanier, Sarojini Naidu, Roald Dahl, Aeschylus


Drunkards Path (some dance to remember, some dance to forget)


The sun was warm, but the wind was chill
between our thoughts.  He holds our breath.

(sounds of water)

Oh yes, that kind of thing could start again.

Let me not wander in a barren dream
that nothing cures.  An immense slackening ache,
in the unfinished sky with nothing to hold it,
lowly one day, no different from the others.

Well, I would like to make
all memory resolve itself in gaze.

The trees say,  Pull me: but the hand you stretch,
the afternoon sifted coolness,
is deep with song.


When I read Jane Dougherty’s response to Sue Vincent’s gate prompt (above), I immediately thought of “Hotel California“.  I had already decided to do a Cento Poem, which takes lines from other poets and strings them together to make a new poem.

I can’t explain completely my method for choosing these lines, except to say it involved a list of poets and a lot of randomness.  I do like those surrealistic games.

The result reminded me of a drunken conversation, hence the title and quilt template for the collage, which uses also the gate from Sue’s photo.


I wouldn’t mind a hand stretched deep with song myself.

Poets, in order of appearance: Robert Frost, Carol Ann Duffy, Basho, Seamus Heaney, John Keats, Philip Larkin, Richard Siken, Wang Wei, Denise Levertov, Richard Hugo, George Herbert, Louise Bogan, Langston Hughes.

And the title: Eagles, “Hotel California”