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