Cento (untitled)

by Cindy Engvall


Let not Ambition mock my useful toil       (1**)

I sit at a work bench at a camp       (2)

ricocheting slowly off the blue walls       (2)

too blissed-out to paint, to sketch or to sculpt.       (3)

Running from marbles and piracies       (4)

and all sorts of funny thoughts       (5)

I was born to look, to listen       (6)

human merely being       (7)

in the silence of the night,       (8)

as the moon steps lower       (9)

she comforts me surely with her light       (10)

and here comes the brimming.       (9)

The marvelous journey       (11)

with a suitcase of books and one bag apiece,      (3)

pack up the moon and dismantle the sun       (12)

to bring them along inside my soul.       (11)

What do we long for       (13)

one salt smell of the sea once more?    (13)

I have a need to hold and handle       (14)

shells and anchors and ships again       (14)

and a heart smudged in blue ink.       (15)

I have a need of water near       (14)

by chance or nature’s changing course       (16)

in eternal lines to time       (16)

it’s somewhere else ,       (5)

it’s my North, my South, my East and West.       (12)

The ordinary, the common, the very drab       (6)

kill me with delight —       (6)

a blue true dream of sky       (7)

the dark water which I adore       (10)

enough to make us even.       (2)

Angry Poseidon, I’m not afraid of him.      (11)

I fancy my small wild prince       (9)

as summer turns colder and then warmer again,      (3)

but I keep my fancy free       (17)

I fold it up and box it before there’s time to think.       (15)

I enter harbors I’m seeing for the first time       (11)

the eyes of my eyes are opened       (7)

I say prayers for good measure       (15)

the prayers that are made out of grass       (6)

and paid with sighs a plenty.       (17)


  1. Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray
  2. The Lanyard by Billy Collins
  3. What If We Went to Italy by Mary Chapin Carpenter
  4. [in Just-] by E. E. Cummings
  5. Halfway Down by A. A. Milne
  6. Mindful by Mary Oliver
  7. “i thank You God for most this amazing” by E. E. Cummings
  8. The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe
  9. Harvest Moon – The Mockingbird Sings in the Night by Mary Oliver
  10. Moon and Water by Mary Oliver
  11. Ithaka by C. P. Cavafy
  12. Funeral Blues by W. H. Auden
  13. Inland by Edna St. Vincent Millay
  14. Exiled by Edna St. Vincent Millay
  15. What to Keep and What  to Throw Away by Mary Chapin Carpenter
  16. Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare
  17. When I Was One-and-Twenty by A. E. Housman

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