Daily Fly Fishing Poem #9: Ministers of My Madness

Fish Quilt by Anthony Naples

Day nine has come and the experiment marches on.  I am not screaming for mercy yet (although maybe you are).  You are probably wondering why the fish quilt artwork, well I am tackling another type of poem today.  Today’s poem is an attempt at the Cento.  The term comes from the Latin cento, a cloak made of patches (hence the patchwork quilt art).  A true cento is composed of lines taken entirely from other poets, without adding or subtracting words.  I’ve stuck to these rules,  I haven’t added or taken away any words at all.  But I have taken the liberty of re-punctuating and adjusting capitalization as needed.

Perhaps, this is not the most rigorous of poetic styles, but as an exercise it has been enlightening.  If you find yourself with a little writer’s block I encourage you to try it.  I found that it was a good way to crack open words and phrases in different ways  and get a fresh perspective.

Poem #9: The Ministers of My Madness: A cento

Supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities (1)
the dark home of the pockets. (2)
The small waters seeping upward (3)
bringing fish up near the sun– (4)
the ministers of my madness, (5)
not angels, moths, but paratroopers. (6)

We waded to our ankle bones, (7)
waiting like a fern, making a spiny shadow, (8)
my soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly (9)
mute with the silence of the fishes, (10)
tied to it by small things. (11)

In one whole year I haven’t learned (12)
best of all is to be idle. (13)

1. Howl by Allen Ginsberg
2. Hands by Donald Justice
3. Cuttings (later) by Theodore Roethke
4. Looking Into A Face by Robert Bly
5. Ascending Over Ohio by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
6. Summer by Lucien Stryk
7. Lines to a Seagreen Lover by Isabella Gardner
8. Elegy for Jane by Theodore Roethke
9. In a Dark Time by Theodore Roethke
10. Two Hands by Anne Sexton
11. Shadowing the Ground by David Ignatow
12. April Inventory by W.D. Snodgrass
13. Against Whatever It Is That’s Approaching by Charles Simic

2 Comments on Daily Fly Fishing Poem #9: Ministers of My Madness

  1. Wicked good ministering…

what say you?