February dis•articulations poem by Terry Wolverton

At the beginning of the month, Terry gave Mike Sonksen four prompts. He engaged in fevered writing with each of them and gave the results to Terry. She used the words from that fevered writing to create this dis•articulations poem.

PYRAMID OF THE MOON

She watched balloonists in the sky
and named them angels, clear warning
God would come to earth today.

“Our destiny will be eclipsed,”
she shouted. We doubted it. We
stayed loyal to our ambitions,

those ancient knots and boxes.
We wanted power. And cookies.
We didn’t deserve judgment day.

Besides, no place to evacuate —
the old missions blasted, hot high
clouds overtaken by cold ash.

We steered away from the girl that
dreamed our fate. No shortage of hate
for her cracked and ugly stories.

Her trajectory will move her
to the Pyramid of the Moon.
Tectonic plates will start to shake.

When she takes flight she’ll rise in
air, reconsidering this earth,
eclipsing the laws of matter.

She’s only a girl, a baby
balloon; already she touches
horizon, almost longs for home.

February dis•articulations poem by Mike Sonksen

At the beginning of the month, Mike gave Terry four prompts. She engaged in fevered writing with each of them and gave the results to Mike. He used the words from that fevered writing to create this dis•articulations poem.

Where Do We Go Once We’ve Been Erased?

We live in a nether world.
The sides were picked so long ago.
It’s a violent collision between matter
and the infinite. We don’t give up easily.
You have to live somewhere
and even then the ego holds on.

Where do we go
once we’ve been erased?
I can only keep track of things
in front of my face.

This makes for a chaotic landscape.
It takes a train crash or the invasion
of cancer to the brain to make us cry.
We make it brutal through our resistance.

It doesn’t matter who we are
or what we’ve done.
Even a flowerpot on the porch
can trigger it.
The pecking order was established
in the last millennium.

We have a carbon footprint.
I can feel my molecules dissolving,
still the Earth turns tenderly.
It was just here a minute ago.
There’s no escaping it, being alive leaves
its mark on the Earth,
it’s always been so.
Those gold-colored glasses they wear shape
a vision in which so many of us
are airbrushed out.

We have the fingerprints of money
like a row of bruises. The body will dissolve
until even the memory is gone.
Did I put it someplace safe?
Was it mislaid like my glasses or my keys?
Hold on, I still have more to do today.

I forgot my pendulum. Wasn’t it
tucked into a drawer?
The minute everything is put away
you can’t afford it anymore.
We lost track of real happiness
way before we got here.

Reader poem by Trista Hurley-Waxali

Trista Hurley-Waxali wrote this reader poem in response to one of February’s prompts:

Dying shouldn’t be so brutal:

Dying is worth exploring as something
beyond sad. Something that reminds us of the
boundaries we create to keep our minds
and hearts at ease.

Death gives us an ability we take for
granted, for it teaches us to grieve and forgive.
Acceptance can be reached anywhere
if you open your mind to the truth of your surroundings,
that nothing is forever.

This ability is forged so we don’t crumble at the sight of blood.
To rather keep standing next to friends who lose
family members. A strength we fence together,
rather than self-loath over
illnesses or the sudden act.

For in nature there are accidental fallings of bugs into webs
and raccoons splattered on asphalt. Each of us
have a fate that lies within the walls of life.
So it is time to build up and stay emotionally safe and sound:
within the confined area.

Reader Poem by Lisa Cheby

Lisa Cheby sent us this reader poem, inspired by the prompt, “Dying shouldn’t be so brutal.”

Living shouldn’t be so brutal

Will our cousins from Curacao, the Muslims, come to kill us?

It’s a question of motive, a violent collision between
sides picked long ago, in a chapel on a hill, perhaps, with gold-

colored glasses that air brush us into a chaotic landscape,
pock-marked with the lives of people who needed someplace

to place a flowerpot – the women, the queers, the artists, the thinkers,
even the Muslims, the poor, the spiritual-but-not-religious, the blacks and
the grays – we owe each other everything. Which is why we make it

brutal through our resistance. We fear our own hot breath:
it was just here, a minute a go, in front of our faces, yet we forgot
that it exists at all, a nether world outside our vision as elusive as

a pendulum: someone has less, someone has more. All bodies dissolve,
until even the memory of the body is gone, just the aftertaste of the fingerprint
bruise, established in the last millennium, tucked in the drawer waiting

for someone to call Uncle, “we owe each other everything.”
Hold on, I still have more.

 

Reader Poem by Olga Garcia

Olga Garcia sent us this reader poem, drawn from multiple prompts.

Forced Evacuations

The headlines read “Record Setting Balloonist Touch Down in Mexico”
Hot air to fill the sky but not the void of so many disappeared,
nation of floating phantoms, 100,000 balloons rising, setting records.
Among them, 43.

It was the police.
The judges.
Boy Scout Politicians.
Drug lords.
Washington’s visionaries.

This is how we lose…Mexico’s students
are now officially “The Disappeared.”
Like those taken during Pinochet.
Like victims of Argentina’s Dirty War.
Like the Women of Juarez
and Nigeria’s 200 school girls—gone, gone, gone.

Where do the disappeared go?

In clandestine graves
they keep digging up feet, hands, charred remains.
There are pulverized teeth being examined in forensic labs,
and in a town called Iguala, they peeled off the face
and gouged the eyes of Julio Cesar Mondragon.

Dying
shouldn’t
be
so
brutal.

February Fevered Writing – Terry Wolverton

Terry Wolverton produced the following fevered writing based on four prompts provided by this month’s collaborating poet, Mike Sonksen.

Dying shouldn’t be so brutal, but why not? It’s a violent collision between matter and the infinite. We don’t give up easily. It takes a train crash or the invasion of the brain by cancer cells to make us cry, “Uncle.” Even then the ego holds on. “Hold on, I still have more to do.” And so perhaps we make it brutal through our resistance. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we’ve done; the body will dissolve until even the memory of the body is gone. Still the earth turns. Tenderly, brutally turns. It’s always been so.

Gentrifying LA — pick a side
The sides were picked so long ago, way before you got here. You have to live somewhere and then you do until you can’t afford it anymore. Even a flowerpot on the porch can trigger it. Being alive leaves its mark on the earth. We have a carbon footprint and we have the fingerprints of money, like a row of bruises. Someone has less than you; someone has more. The pecking order was established in the last millennium and there’s no escaping it.

Save us from Washington’s visionaries
What they see determines our reality and they can’t see reality. Those gold-colored glasses they wear shape a vision in which so many of us are airbrushed out. I can feel my molecules dissolving as their vision erases me—the women, the queers, the artists, the thinkers, the not-wealthy. Where do we go once we’ve been erased? We live in a nether world outside their vision; they can’t know what we’re doing because they can’t see us, but they fear our hot breath.

How we lost track of real happiness
It was just here a minute ago, wasn’t it? Was it mislaid like my glasses or my keys? Did I put it someplace safe, like I did with my pendulum, and then forget where that was? I should never clean up. I can only keep track of things that are in front of my face. The minute it’s tucked into a drawer, I not only forget where it is but often forget that it exists at all. This makes for a chaotic landscape, but it’s better than the empty field of my mind when everything is put away.

 

Readers are encouraged to write your own poems inspired by the prompts or the fevered writing and post them to comments. The best poem we receive this month will be awarded a $25 prize.

February Fevered Writing – Mike Sonksen

This month’s collaborating poet, Mike Sonksen, did the following fevered writing based on four prompts given him by Terry Wolverton:

#1 “Judges should steer clear of the Boy Scouts”
Judges should steer clear of the boy scouts, there’s nothing to say to the boys that hasn’t already been said. The scouts shout about cubs and webelos. We be loyal scouts, judges cast doubt and talk about law and order. Boy scouts tie knots, they’re not all that interesting when it comes down to it. There’s more important matters for judges to attend to. Buy a box of girl scout cookies and keep things moving.

2# “Record setting balloonists touch down in Mexico.”
Long before the airplane, man took flight in a hot air balloon. High amidst the clouds in a helium powered balloon, the aim was for the moon, the mission was to eclipse the horizon, the dream in the sky to touch the angels and say hello to God. The ambition to take flight started long before hot air with projects like the ancient pyramids. From day one man wanted to be more than he is. Inclined to rise to the sky, to move on up, the balloonists touched down in Mexico. They wanted to travel around the world, they set a record on their voyage.

3# “Ash girl and evacuation warnings.”
Watch out for the ash from the volcano, evacuate the state, ash girl was almost blasted by traveling hot lava, stay away from Mt. St. Helens. Vesuvius is not new to us, Pompeii could happen today. Evacuate ash girl, it’s a new world as cold as it ever was. Stay home out of the trajectory, the story of the volcano is older than humans. Name something else with the force of a volcano? Krakatoa cracked the Earth’s magma, the tectonic plates always shake and there’s no shortage of ash, girl. This is your evacuation warning.

4# “She was only a baby.”
She was only a baby and did not deserve her fate, this is when life is not great. The power of hate overtakes the ugly side of many men. These men need to get in touch with their instability. She was only a baby, she had her whole life ahead of her, they need to find another place to project their negativity. She was only a baby, leave her destiny out of your own issues, the evil that men do is why we live in the world we do. People need to reconsider their impulsive behavior, she was only a baby.

 

 

Readers who are contemplating writing your own poems may work with just the prompts or may choose to use one or more passages of fevered writing to inspire your poems. Best Reader poem we receive in February will win a $25 prize.

Reader Poem by Shelly Krehbiel

Our first reader poem in February! Thank you, Shelly.

How we lost track of real happiness

So many lights. The streets are just vendors.
Time is a tree. All the prophets sat down
to watch it. Trucks came anyway, just plowed
them over. No need for figs or old words.

We started to build then, all the numbers
blazing, predicting justice in the loud
configurations of planes on screens. Now
is the time for action. Mercury stirs

his extravagant reflection. We know
the earth is round. We know how to turn books
into light. Isn’t this beautiful? Soon

we’ll make power from nothing, learn to grow
grass without water, catch fish without hooks.
No one prays. No geese will fly through our moon.

February Poetry Prompts

Prompts must be drawn from the media — print, broadcast or social media.

Poetry Prompts from Mike Sonksen:

Dying Shouldn’t Be So Brutal (NY Times)
Gentrifying L.A.: Pick A Side (L.A. Weekly)
Save Us from Washington’s Visionaries (TruthDig)
How We Lost Track of Real Happiness (Alternet)

Poetry Prompts from Terry Wolverton:

Judges should steer clear of the Boy Scouts (LA Times)
Record-Setting Balloonists Touch Down in Mexico… (NPR)
Ash Girl and Evacuation Warnings (Tahoma Literary Review)
“She was only a baby” (theguardian.com)

Readers are encouraged to write and submit poems of your own, inspired by one or more of these prompts. There will be a $25 prize for the best poem we receive from a reader in February.

February’s Collaborating Poet – Mike Sonksen

MikeThePoetbyFelver

In February, Mike Sonksen will collaborate with Terry Wolverton to create new dis•articulations poems.

Equally a scholar and performer, Mike Sonksen, also known as Mike the Poet, is a 3rd-generation L.A. native acclaimed for poetry performances, published articles and mentoring teen writers. Following his graduation from U.C.L.A. in 1997, he has published over 500 essays and poems for a wide range of journals and websites. His first book I Am Alive in Los Angeles! has been added to the curriculum of several universities and high schools. His weekly KCET column, L.A. Letters, celebrates literary Los Angeles. Most recently in June 2014, he completed an Interdisciplinary M.A. in English and History from the California State University of Los Angeles. His next book, Poetics of Location, is forthcoming from Writ Large Press. Sonksen is now an Adjunct Professor at Southwest College and Woodbury University.