Mortals in Their Prime with Desperate Hands

A cento is a poem composed entirely of lines from other poems.
I’ve always had a thing for big vocabularies, so for Esoterotica’s “Cerebral Affair” show I decided to create a cento using only lyrics from Bad Religion songs.
Original credit and copyright Greg Graffin, Epitaph Records, etc.

Mortals in Their Prime with Desperate Hands
A Bad Religion cento

I can’t believe it, the way you look sometimes, conspirator so fine.
Temple of cognition, zest, and artistry;
mercurial smile drenched in novelty,
and I’ve got a hunch about you and me.

It’s a matter of prescience. Not the science fiction kind.
This future’s been rehearsed.
I know there’s so much you want to say, but your mind gets in the way.
It’s too late for intellectual debate, but who’s got time to think?
There’s a furnace set on high and a yearning undefined,
and looking at you now is driving me to distraction.
To state the obvious: every time I look at you I just want to do it.
I know that others postpone gratification, well, I lack that affectation.
I need a key, and the lock is inside-out.

Interpret my intentions: You affect me.
You infect me, I’m incurable but durable.
My heart is not a cold cauldron of proof,
I give you me with long division and a riding crop.
Temptation? Revelation? You decide.
Be the faithful pilot on this blind trajectory,
this direction we’ve been heading never realizing we’re on a runaway machine.
Oh, can we make it run.

Drunk with assertions, she leaned back and tilted her head.
“Fuck you,” more a question than a curse.

The test is the reaction: a wink, a nod, a shiver. Our hearts palpitate.
As the vibrations swell and spread, flowing wave-like through disorder,
carry me like a vessel to water. Take your fill.

Lay me down like rain.
Lay me down like judgment, like a trampled flag on a city street.
Bend and yield to unrelenting gravity, delicate in its fury,
desperate, tenacious, clinging,
rhythmic as change, constant as time,
insistent whispers like turbines in darkness.
And we are not in command.
When we need to sate we just accelerate,
rapt by the hips with mania and yearning
daunting, complex, and burning
until our juice runs dry like a Roman fuckin’ candle.
(Or maybe something bigger than can really go pop, like a fucking atom bomb.)
We succumb rapidly, obliterate each other
hand in hand through a billion blinding brilliant bright incendiary lights,
ecstatic immolation, incorrigible delight.

The test is the recovery. Something in our synapses assures us we’re okay.
Sometimes it’s never a crime to spend the day in bed, sequestered and content,
like a mystery that’s here to stay.

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