Patrice Boyer Claeys

Birth

Long before there were words
the wind blew the leaves
like stolen kisses. And where the scritch, scritch, scritch
ran out and ran out, the brain shook as if stunned,
as if death were nowhere.

Slow hallucination
and brave music poured
on your fine and hidden fingers,
the single clenched fist lifted and ready
and your shoulder blades aching for want of wings.


Source & Method: Cento Sources: Charles Simic, Denise Levertov, Galway Kinnell, John Berryman, Li-Young Lee, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz, Elizabeth Garrett, Carl Sandburg, Nina Cassian. I make centos from single lines of other people’s poetry. The energy sparked when these lines bump up against one another keeps language fresh, and the borrowed voices allow me to zero in on highly personal or emotional topics.


Patrice Boyer Claeys lives and writes in Chicago. Her first full-length collection, Lovely Daughter of the Shattering, was released in 2019 by Kelsay Books. She has been nominated for Best of the Net.


Photo by Volkan Olmez