Patchwork Poem #1 ala Anne Sexton


Since You Ask, Most Days I Can Not Remember

I was wrapped in black
my hair rising like smoke from the car window
and I beat down the psalms
………………….(notice how he has numbered the blue veins)
and I undid the buttons
………………….(like carpenters they want to know which tools)
and the love, whatever it was, an infection.

And then you called me princess.


Climb her like a monument, step after step
…………………..(he is bulding a city, a city of flesh)
then the almost unnameable lust returns
leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss.


This is not an experiment. She is all harmony.


And then you crowned me–
fireworks in the dull middle of February–
face flushed with a song and their little sleep,
and as real as a cast-iron pot–
the bones, the confusions.

You undid me and then
I stood up in my gold skin.

…………………..((From the glory of boards he has built me up).
As for me, I am a watercolor,
have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy,
and the love, whatever it was, an infection.


So this is a patchwork poem for the “Fall in Love With a Poet” mini-challenge at Read Write Poem.  The lines are taken from four Anne Sexton poems: Mr. MineUsWanting to Die; and For My Lover, Returning to His Wife.

There is a theme here in these poems, as well as in the lines I have chosen.  I just need to figure out what it is, spend some more time with Anne…


6 responses »

  1. spending time with anne. last year at this time, i spent weeks and weeks with her. it was wonderful to go fairly deep. i did have to step out eventually and didn’t read everything i wanted to read.

    i can hear her tone in this even though the lines are from several different pieces. doing centos makes me wonder if my own lines are strong enough … maybe that would be a good revision test.

    this is a great pairing:

    “and as real as a cast-iron pot–
    the bones, the confusions.”

    • It’s funny how I feel like I am in a place right now where Anne’s words suit me far better than my own.

      I approached this cento in a certain frame of mind and deliberately chose lines that (to me) told a story. Usually I create a cento by choosing lines that speak to me and allowing them to tell the story. This was the opposite process.

      Yes. Creating centos of our own work would be an excellent exercise! You’re so smart!

  2. I really like

    You undid me and then
    I stood up in my gold skin.

    the sense of progression throughout the poem to this moment — from being wrapped in black, then crowned, then unclothed altogether & undone — great patchwork.

    I was saying somewhere how centos, all this harvesting of juicy lines, really teach you to pay attention to the line itself in your own work. It’s been a great exercise.

  3. Don’t feel bad — I was late too this time.

    What struck me the most was the narrative in and the construction of this piece. In a weird way, it almost reminded me of Plath’s “Lady Lazarus”, especially these lines:

    “have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy,
    and the love, whatever it was, an infection.”

    Well done. I’ll be back to read the rest of your centos.


  4. I am also deeply enamored with Anne Sexton. I am currently immersed in her “Self Portrait in Letters”… where she talks about writing her poems in letters to many intriguing characters in her life. How I love it.

    Your cento, oh… beautiful.

    I love the lines in parenthesis. Love the set apart – yet within nature of them.

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