Days before students returned to the Princeton campus, the readers, writers, and poets of U.S. 1’s annual Summer Fiction issue took over the Forum space at the university’s new Lewis Arts Complex to mingle and hear readings and discussion of the published works.

As part of the August 29 festivities, Maxine Susman, who screened poetry entries for the issue and whose own poem, “Sanctuary,” was printed, was asked to make general remarks about the poets and poetry she had read.

So she did what poets do — she wrote a poem. More specifically, she wrote a cento — a poem consisting solely of lines from other works — using one line from each of 35 poems included in the issue. (To read each of the poems in full visit the poetry and prose archives.)

Smiling – Yes!

Her or me, make up your mind—
there was no way she was going to dress,
assembling these bones of the past—
love is an STD.

In his hand he carries a flag:
clawhammer, dropped thumb,
perhaps they’re fleeing from an unknown foe?
I do not WANT to be safe from wolves.

For all our
tinkering,
Tell us how you can speak out—
guns inform his monologue,
his oars crossed across his lap.

Walk toward the wall poster of happy dancing children,
headlights shining in the
darkness.
Though you offer to meet me, I’m happy to drive —
restart the engine, check the gage, rush off —

time bends around your special gravity
to escape the bull ring in her brain.
At 72 I’ve begun writing poems,
I retain hope that someday I’ll know me,

good night false teeth and
bifocal glasses,
a lightly starched collar, silky tie,
he could never be a normal boy,
his were an artist’s hands, you could tell.

My resentments mount —
why not go gentle into that good night,
replete with ice and howling wind and snow?
It was a sad time with none of us thinking clearly —

the cool day turned firestorm.
Home is here.
Like aquarium fish the crowds go by
and yes, I feel I’m home.

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