During every First Tuesdays open mic, we communally compose a cento using language taken from each open-mic reader’s offering. On May 2, 2107, those readers were: Martha Hollander, Elizabeth Wiethoff, Maria Terrone, Patricia Carragon, Gil Fagian, Frank Perero, Noah Bumas, Dan Fleshler, Liz Primamore, David Mills, Marty Levine, Norman Stock, Peter Marra, Denis Gray, James M., Lisa Terzo, Amy Barone, Valerie G. Keane, Jay Chollick, Kerrianne Lieberman, Lisa Reswick, Stephan Benedict.
Eric Terzo, whose wife Lisa has been a regular at First Tuesdays for a long time and who was one of the readers on May 2, recorded my recitation of the cento and used part of it to make this very powerful video about gun violence.
As the turning ball turns slowly,
people would come from everywhere,
subtracted as each pair of eyes turns away.
We stretch our ostrich necks,
see phantom ships.
Everything is bigger in America!
Four or five hours remain
to see if my solitude will outlast the dawn.
I think of my grandma,
who sounds like old New York:
“I’d rather confess to murder.
Murder is not pathetic.”
I prefer reality to fantasy.
I will shut up now.
My long standing identity crisis is over.
I am being burned alive, a memento mori
of someone she had dispatched.