The Exquisite Cento Project is a collaborative writing project in which two poets work with predetermined source material and the ‘exquisite corpse’ poetic technique of composing a poem with each participant writing alternating lines without being able to see the poem’s previous lines. The combination of the two poetic techniques gives us the project’s name and creates unexpected juxtapositions and serendipitous fluidity, often unearthing a poetic dialogue within the unconscious collaboration of poets
The poems either use the project’s standard template of selecting lines from a predetermined source of two poets and the script for a movie, or are more freeform and include more varied sources including popular songs, movie reviews, only poets and many others. While some lines were omitted from the final results, aside from capitalization and punctuation, no lines were altered from their sources.
 Poem 5: Only lines from Pablo Neruda, Rae Armantrout & the Script for Tremors
Creation looked like this:
wearing a sweat-stained fedora
pigeons bathe in technicolor
between the flagstones.
The sea fills its cellar with footfalls,
but lately I ain’t so much as seen a gopher.
The pallid woman with black hair
of harrowing petals
and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight.
The hump jerks higher—
the charging creatures are almost underfoot
He tries not to look down.
More humps rise and fall
and we’re all populists.
Because silence has a right to the beauty
you have moon-lines, apple-pathways.
The creature gently rustles the earth
I wish the love and dignity of bees for your hands
quick, before you die
There’s a long, grim silence
it’s a volcano of gory creature parts
as a world might create and undo itself
numerous spurts of dust
gesturing with the bomb, she understands.
resolutely grinding along not far from the cliffs
like a grieving arrow
Is it them?
The bastards are up to something
Summer Poem 2: Only lines from Marianne Moore, Robert Bly, & the Script for Mean Girls [or Only we, with our opposable thumbs, want]
In a parenthesis of wit
we came to lose our leaves like trees—
fragments of sin are a part of me
freezing at dawn in the desert.
You must stay a baby forever,
as wild spontaneous fruit was
in the windows of trucking services.
Girls walking in slo-mo.
I started talking in this weird high voice:
“You’re plastic! Solid, durable, molded plastic.”
The guinea hens rose
your eyes, flowers of ice and snow—
complete chaos has ensued
Those shoes will get you pregnant
(she throws them like confetti).
I couldn’t remember how I normally walk
(it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing)
and blew his head off with a shotgun.
Naked feet covered with jewels.
New brooms shall sweep clean the heart of me
like a cloud forming inside a transparent stone.
A kind of prophet
sits netted among the stars, looking down—
this solitude covered with iron.
Are we still in a fight?
Outside maple leaves floated on rainwater
in a parenthesis of wit.
Andrew Gibson studied creative writing at North Carolina Central University. This is his first publication.
Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and photographer living in San Diego. His writing has recently appeared in Meridian, The Southern Review, Louisville Review, Fence, Rosebud, Atlanta Review, Texas Review, and Fjords Review, among others. He publishes the writing blog Notebooking Daily, edits Coastal Shelf, and recommends literary magazines at The Submission Wizard.