And when I doubt, I’ll look east (cento)

Michigan’s in the rear-view now
This is the place you end up when you lose the chase
I hide down in my corner
Because I like my corner
Our weakness is the same
We need poison sometimes
Anything is better than nothing
We gotta make a decision
Leave tonight, or live to die this way
It was the great escape, the prison break
The light of freedom on my face

From the sky we looked so organized and brave
With Pennsylvania under me

I know flying over water makes you cry
Are there still beautiful things?
The moon hangs like the blade of an axe tonight
All the people we knew were the actors
The game looks easy that’s why it sells

Mulholland Drive
City lights lay out before us
I’d always hoped for better
Heaven knows
It’s got to be this time
Up in the sky
Red rain is coming down

Stupidity tries
‘cause everyone is fucking pro

Burn out the day
Burn out the night
The radio reminds me of my home far away
So call out my name
Come to me
You are warming weather
I’m out of step and closing down
I need you to show me the way from crazy
Flashback, warm nights
You said, “Go Slow”
Well I lagged behind
So you got ahead
A Newfound Interest in Massachusetts (The Get Up Kids)
Michigan (The Milk Carton Kids)
Flying Over Water (Jason Isbell)
seven (Taylor Swift)
Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver)  
Blackbird (The Beatles)
Electrolite (REM)
Downtown Train (Tom Waits)
Stupidity Tries (Elliott Smith)
Memory Lane (Elliott Smith)
Like a Prayer (Madonna)
Fast Car (Tracy Chapman)
Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper)
Gold Mine Gutted (Bright Eyes)
Red Rain (Peter Gabriel)
Trance Manual (John Vanderslice)
Ten (Jimmy Eat World)
King’s Crossing (Elliott Smith)
St. Ides Heaven (Elliott Smith)
My Sundown (Jimmy Eat World)
Closedown (The Cure)
New Monkey (Elliott Smith)
All I’m losing is me (Saves The Day)
Burnin’ for You (Blue Öyster Cult)
Bankrupt on Selling (Modest Mouse)
Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1 (The Mountain Goats)
Ceremony (New Order)
Getaway Car (Taylor Swift)
Call Out My Name (The Weeknd)

Mark Danowsky

3 Questions for Mark

What was your process for creating this work?

Collecting favorite music lyrics that have poetic sensibilities and finding ways in which they intersect to create new and thought-provoking meanings. 

What is the significance of the form/genre you chose for this work?

I primarily write in free verse. The cento is an interesting form; in my opinion, music lyrics are well-suited to the form. 

What is the significance of this work to you?

Music has played an important role in my life as well as my development as a poet/writer/editor. Early inspirations carry extra weight. The lyrics by Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse), Elliott Smith, and John Darnielle (The Mountain Goats) have been important lessons in the use of language. There's an ongoing debate about how music lyrics differ from the language of poetry. John K. Samson released a book entitled Lyrics and Poems and this is a good case for how music lyrics really can walk the line. Samson's lyrics truly are poetic and do not fall flat on the page. To be clear, this is rare. This music lyrics cento is hopefully interesting and valuable in and of itself but, for me, is also a way to continue this discussion.

Mark Danowsky is Editor-in-Chief of ONE ART: a journal of poetry, Senior Editor for Schuylkill Valley Journal, Poetry Craft Essays Editor for Cleaver Magazine, and a Regular Contributor for Versification. He is author of the poetry collection As Falls Trees (NightBallet Press) and JAWN forthcoming from Moonstone Press.

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