The Key – a cento

This is a Cento by Mary Jacob, created during a Surrealist Salon activity in which each person brought a book of poetry.  Each participant had a book. We generated page numbers at random, and everyone had to choose a line from a poem on that page in their own book. Then we passed the books around the circle, and repeated the process, so that each participant built up their own poem. When the books came back to their original owners, we took one last line and a title.

The Key


A drowsy kerosene lamp,

the white light, the vast freedom.

There was a door to which I found no key.

I exchange eyes with the Mad Queen.

If this fall in a time, or a land

trailing across the hog-backed mountain,

lock up your secrets with a drawer.


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