Poetry: Lilac Cento as American Sonnet by J. David

J. David has so elegantly performed the cento sonnet here—each piece fitting in fair relationship. “Lilac Cento as American Sonnet” raises the bar high for contemporary engagement with form.

Lilac Cento as American Sonnet

Danez Smith, Stanley Kunitz, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Heather Derr Smith,

Matthew Dickman, Nicole Terez Durron, Hyam Plutzik, Kaveh Akbar


Let him enter the lion’s cage and find a field of lilacs

where the bees sank sugar wells in the trunks of the maples

and a stringy old lilac more than two stories tall remembers

the boys and their open hands among the spit of unknown rivers.

I stand at the edge of the world, tongue screwed shut in the wild

lilac of my body, and the lilac outside on the street, outside

everyone, and heavy in the rain. Here, is a train station

never arrived at, where the people we’ve collected as bandages

are gathered and waiting. Their heads grown weary under

the weight of Time, those few hours on the hither side of silence,

the lilacs sprigs bend on the bough to perish, the lonely rumble

in my head giving praise. This is why we put mirrors in birdcages,

why we turn on lamps to double our shadows while calling out

into the quiet, still buttoned up and wandering through the night.


J. David

J. David is from Cleveland, Ohio and serves as poetry editor for Flypaper Magazine.

Close Menu