Cento for Pyrokinesis – Margo LaPierre

One time I ran out of toilet paper and used
the friendly world, shutting the strange one out
as though being diseased is a reason
yet somehow I am not.

I used to daydream
of metal slipped easily as a dog’s kiss
around the buttery yellow splashes, a comma at the end
of anger with its talent for mixtures
that can’t be cut. Can’t be ignored.

The entire sick fucking world is
simmering like wasps
here, exhausted from multiplication
in the bone made silent by the muscle tensed around it
like its hard, tense sister, the spring.
At 20 hertz it becomes touch.

There is a real power in the semipermeable.
In collectivity, marinating madness
like the remnants of a Soviet hangover.

What is real is taking the unreal,
what’s to come—exhaust smog
like doubts upon the world, acting as if
the front door slamming and
undulating in the cool airstream
scraping the lavender sky
nestles around the scalp a vague thing, a pity object
a wreath the colour of
howling light.





Cento for Pyrokinesis” borrows lines from 34 source poems. The words, word order, italicizations and punctuation of each line are identical to those in the source poem. Capitalization may have been altered. In the list below, the first numeral refers to the stanza; the second numeral refers to the line within the stanza.


1.1 Molly Cross-Blanchard, “When We’re Young and Insecure About Our Intelligence,” Exhibitionist (Coach House Books, 2021).

1.2 Rainer Maria Rilke, trans. by Edward Snow, “The Third Elegy,” Duino Elegies (North Point Press, 2000).

1.3 Roxanna Bennett, “Curse of the Hyacinth, Unmeaningable (Gordon Hill Press, 2019).

1.4 Brandon Wint, “Birth/Right,” Divine Animal (Write Bloody North, 2020).

2.1 Jennifer Hosein, “White,” A Map of Rain Days (Guernica Editions, 2020).

2.2 Shira Erlichman, “Aftertaste,” Odes to Lithium (Alice James Books, 2019).

2.3 Susan J. Atkinson, “Her Sunlight,” The Marta Poems (Silver Bow Publishing, 2020).

2.4 Canisia Lubrin, “Return #2,” The Dyzgraphxst (McClelland & Stewart, 2020).

2.5 Helen Robertson, “Mallum Mallum.”

3.1 Kirby, “I Never Got Over 60 Likes,” What Do You Want to Be Called? (Anstruther Press, 2020).

3.2 Robert Lowell, “The Old Flame,” For the Union Dead (1956).

3.3 Terese Mason Pierre, “En Masse,” Manifest (Gap Riot Press, 2020).

3.4 Sachiko Murakami, “The Big One: Field Notes,” Render (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2020).

3.5 Caroline Szpak, “Everyone Loves a Slinky,” Slinky Naïve (Anvil Press, 2018).

3.6 Lisa Robertson, “Cinema of the Present,” Cinema of the Present (Coach House Books, 2014).

4.1 Liz Howard, “Brain Mapping,” Letters in a Bruised Cosmos (McClelland & Stewart, 2021).

4.2 Conyer Clayton, “Bone Bed,” We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite (Guernica Editions, 2020).

4.3 Ellen Chang-Richardson, “K.P.H.D.” Unlucky Fours (Anstruther Press, 2020).

5.1 Jaclyn Desforges, “Freeze,” Danger Flower (Palimpsest Press, 2021).

5.2 Chris Johnson, “If only we felt the same about Mad Max: Fury Road…” Listen, Partisan! And Other Stumbling Haibun (Frog Hollow Press, 2016).

5.3 Michael Mirolla, “Listeners,” Light and Time (Guernica Editions, 2010).

5.4 Stuart Ross, “Collected,” A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent (Buckrider Books, 2016).

5.5 Sonnet L’Abbé, “Going Back,” A Strange Relief (McClelland & Stewart, 2001).

5.6 Paul Lisson, “Fourth Inevitability,” The Perfect Archive (Guernica Editions, 2019).

5.7 Claudia Coutu Radmore, “fluther of jellyfish,” camera obscura (above/ground press, 2019).

5.8 Pearl Pirie, Not Quite Dawn (Editions Petits Nuages, 2020).

5.9 Grace Lau, “The Next Time You Scold My Body,” The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak (Guernica Editions, 2021).

Margo LaPierre

Margo LaPierre is an award-winning bipolar Canadian freelance editor, author of Washing Off the Raccoon Eyes (Guernica Editions, 2017), and member of poetry collective VII. Her work is published in Room, subTerrain, CV2, and elsewhere. She is completing her MFA in Creative Writing at UBC. Find her on Twitter @margolapierre.

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