Michael Brockley

A Gratitude Cento

When Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge, all the animals ate from it, too. I want to write about warm milk silent as a bee hive. Hot-buttered grits and of all the places where they might shine. I want to write about three strands of hair. About something more human than lava. The time no one laughed but me. I want to write about feeling bored and counting snowflakes stamped in silver while spelling out my new name. I could solve problems. Get the answers I want. Nothing goes down easier than when what there is to lose is everything. I want to write in a place where fireworks percuss. Loud and certain as the auctioneer’s racket. Let the conversation be bilingual. Go ahead and eat the poem. Flaunt its imperfections. Re-write the narrative on a darkening hill. We will kill or die. Or become the lion.

Source & Method


When Adam Ate from the Tree of Knowledge, All the Animals Ate from It, Too, Nickole Brown
Bitter Vision, Wendy Vergoz
The New Twilight Zone: ‘Empty City,’ Jennifer Knox
Hot-Buttered Grits, Allyson Horton
After God, Jennifer Browne
Hands, Siv Cedering
The Lava on Iceland, Katy Didden
After Taking Me Home, Heather Sellers
Pandora Speaks, Karen Kovacik
Coming Home, Kendra DeColo
Project Challenge, Liz Kershner Whiteacre
Immersion, Patti White
How It Is, Alice Friman
Robinson Escapes to the Cape for Independence Day, Kathleen Rooney
After the Auction, I Bid You Goodbye, Aimee Nezhukumatathil
The Contract Says We’d Like the Conversation to Be Bilingual,  Ada Limón
Here, Kim Addonizio
Show Off, Allison Joseph
P. S. Assault, Alessandra Lynch
Creek-Song, Shari Wagner
Become the Lion, Traci Brimhall

I composed “A Gratitude Cento” to express my gratitude to the women who had influenced me as a poet. It is based on lines I selected from twenty-one poets who had instructed me in face-to-face workshops or in virtual workshops during the current pandemic. I am truly grateful for the help each instructor gave me.

Michael Brockley is a retired school psychologist who lives in Muncie, Indiana. His poems have recently appeared in The Thieving Magpie, Last Stanza, and The Twin Bill. Poems are forthcoming in Flying Island, the Indianapolis Anthology, and the Exeter Hometown Anthology.

Issue 24