Strictures and Structures


For We Write Poems poetry prompt:  Cento Poem

Strictures and Structures (a cento poem using Scriptures and Strictures by Mr. Walker)

Is God watching me write this poem?
I don’t know.

Saved space is saved/ between how we
talk and how we write.

So limited we were/ when we were young
and all the old people/ happy with the walls
of their lives/ told us our poetry was no good.

Not bound by faith/ we wrote poems/ with passion.
It was too easy/ and we liked it soft/ like God
and religion and convent walls/ No more
than shadows on the cave wall of the real thing.

So we make the most of the moment
this now/ these words.

I don’t mind because I don’t judge/ I’m happy
within my walls and I’ll let you be happy
within yours/ but sometimes I’ll pray
that God is watching you
read this poem.

Elizabeth Crawford 5/10/11
Mr. Walker’s original poem may be found here:

Notes: I found Mr. Walker’s poem last week and sort of got lost exploring its intricate paths and stream of consciousness voice. There were so many lines to provoke thought and further contemplation, but also the history of most who decide to make writing poetry a part of their lives. It fascinated me for many reasons. So, when I read the WWP prompt for this week, it never occurred to me to go any further than his poem. I did tweak a bit, played around, and added a few of my own words and a bit of punctuation to give credence to the title I chose. The prompt was not just to create a cento poem but to explore where we go when we seek comfort, or an end to stress. That would be poetry for me, whether writing it or reading it. I do have a deep spiritual aspect to my existence and believe that many of my own poems come directly from that space.

*Note: For anyone who is interested, Jinksy and I have started an experiment in collaboration of digital art and poetry. Come take a look and let us know what you think:


About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here:
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18 Responses to Strictures and Structures

  1. Mary says:

    Elizabeth, I, too, was taken with Mr. Walker’s poem. Lovely re-arrangement of its lines to provide yet a different, though related, meaning from the original. I Be sure to take a look here:

    Like you, I go to poetry for comfort. Sometimes even just to be SURROUNDED by poetry books is enough.

    Mary, I so agree. And thanks for the heads up. That was so gratifying to see Richard’s work highlighted. I love this community and the synchronicity that abounds within it.



  2. neil reid says:

    I’ll call it simply a prayer, a meditation Elizabeth. Maybe I won’t say much this time, lest distract in the least from your so fine gathering here of words. Deep thanks my friend for sharing this. ~neil

    Oh Neil, don’t ever hold back those words. I always appreciate them. I loved this prompt and what it gave me permission to do. What an exciting way to show appreciation.



  3. Kim Nelson says:

    Dear Elizabeth,
    As you may have noticed, I, too, am a huge Mr. Walker fan. He is a true talent. I’m equally moved by this piece you have written, perhaps because you mirror so much of me here, and so it eloquently. I recently wrote in similar attitude. If you have time, here is the link:

    But Kim, these are not my words, but majorically Mr. Walker’s. It is he who was eloquent and I who borrowed that shine for a few moments. That is not to say I didn’t like or even enjoy what came about. I did, immensely. But thank you for your generous words,



  4. This is one of my favorites of yours, Elizabeth. I relate to it very much…..I especially love “no more than shadows on the save wall of the real thing”. Wow! And I so love the final lines:) Just wonderful writing! So rich with wisdom.

    Thank you Sherry, but again, I must share the majority of that credit with Mr. Walker.



  5. margo roby says:

    I haven’t tried a cento from a single work. Not easy I would think to discover a new poem. I look forward to looking at the original to see how your poem came into being. As always, thank you for your words, even when they are Walker’s words.

    Margo, I think it might be better to call the cento poem form something like “Caught in An Echo” poetry. Although I liked and enjoyed the experience of doing it, I still have a few reservations because it feels a bit like plaguerism. Thanks for stopping by,



  6. pamelasayers says:

    Elizabeth, I love the fact that you used Richard’s poem. I remember reading his, and you have turned this into your own. Nicely done.


    Thank you Pamela, but I think I will always think of this poem as borrowed. I really liked doing the cento, but… lol.



  7. When Mr. Walker’s poem was posted, I told him it was one of the best things I’d read and hoped he would publish it. Richard was touched by the Divine with this one, and the fact that you found different pathways in that luxurious labyrinth is extraordinary. The final lines, about God watching you read this poem, very nice ending.

    I challenged myself to a single Sandburg poem… and his aren’t long. Next time, I’ll use “Ancient Mariner,” LOL. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    Amy, you found a wonderful path through Sandburg’s poem. And I particularly liked the ending on this one. Thanks for sharing,



  8. Indeed, there is so much to glean in Mr. Walker’s poem…still a challenge to construct a cento from an entire poem. And you did well.

    I especially relate to and feel the third stanza…that criticism, from people who love their walls. I have negotiated a contract with mine, I stay within and climb over them in turns.

    Well done.


    Thanks Nicole, I have done a similar contract myself. Choosing poetry is not easy, it often creates boundaries and walls. Just glad I have found this incredible playground and extended patio within the online circuit.



  9. b_y says:

    I like this very much.
    and thanks for pointing out Mr Walker’s poem

    Thank you b_y, I think you will enjoy it, I certainly did,



  10. brenda w says:

    Elizabeth, This is a comforting poem. I appreciate your process notes, too. Poetry comes for me from a deep spiritual space as well. It’s interesting, because sometimes it feels like it’s inside me in some ways, and at other times it feels like it moves through me, and I’m merely conduit. You, my friend, are a wonderful human being. I am grateful for your words and presence out here in the blogosphere.


  11. Mama Zen says:

    I found this to be very meditative. Well done!

    Mama Zen, if that’s the case, Mr. Walker’s poem should knock your socks off, lol. Thanks so much for stopping by,



  12. Mr. Walker says:

    Elizabeth, you have done me a great honor. Thank you. I loved your poem. I thought it was lovingly constructed, with great care. It seems strange to say I liked it (because I don’t want to sound arrogant), but I liked how you started with writing and ended with reading, bringing it full circle in a satisfying way all your own.

    And I have to say I love the message of your poem and your process notes. Writing poems has become a very important outlet for my thoughts and feelings. And I am humbly pleased that others like my poems. And I like how you took that idea of finding comfort in words in my words. There is no higher praise.

    I am so happy to be a part of this online community of blogging poets. You and Mary have made my week! Thank you.


    And you have allowed me to breathe again, Richard. Had no idea I was holding my breath until I heard the whoosh when I saw your name here. Honest! I was terrified you might be offended or insulted by what I had done. It was great fun in the doing, and became instant whirlpool once I had posted it. And I am so relieved to know that you liked it and felt it was a compliment as it was intended to be.

    Confession? I am always scared when I try a new form. Worried that I might have somehow misunderstood in some way. I think that’s why the only thought that came to my mind was your poem. I so thoroughly enjoyed it and it made so much sense to me and made me laugh out loud because it was such a roller coaster ride of thought, image, and memory. I can only be grateful that you made this experience so easy in so many ways.

    You are not an arrogant individual, I’ve met many, lol. And I know what you mean about this community. It is really something else, isn’t it? Bask for a while, then write. I’m glad I was a part of making you feel good this week. And thanks for relieving the old woman,



  13. vivinfrance says:

    You have pulled together crucial elements of Mr W’s great poem, and somehow made them your own coherent statement. Two lovely poems. What a wonderful use of the prompt.

    Thanks Viv, it really was fun, until after I posted it and began to worry. Such is life,



  14. Yousei Hime says:

    Aw, everyone’s already said what I wanted to say. I’ll just say well done.

    Welcome Yousei, and thank you for saying so,



  15. Irene says:

    A collaborative cento is so cool.

    I think so too Irene, wanna try it?



  16. Ellen says:

    It felt like a private prayer; a lot of poems are just that. Our soul allowing ideas and emotions to come forth; a free flow of words to capture a mood, a moment a thought. I loved it~

    Thank you Ellen, and that is often my experience as well. Just getting quiet and letting the flow do its thing, take me wherever it wants to go and I sort of drift along in its current. But, then there are those other times, lol.



  17. Pingback: Is God watching? | lost in translation

  18. Renee says:

    I’m sure God is and all the angels present too. Having the needed encouragement when we are young makes all the difference in the world. Mine came late in life but now there are no holds barred. Watch out!

    Lol, Renee, I will. I know what that feels like and it is good.



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