December dis•articulations poem — Terry Wolverton

LISTEN

I rise from the bed of words
where we fuck in perverse ink,
tattoo the sheets gold and blue.
Words are little boats
on an ocean of sheets.
We spread our nets, dip in,
but words run wild;
we can never control their play.

By day, we are only women,
beasts with holes covered up,
our creations policed,
crushed by the dickheads’ sharp words,
flinching into the red sun.
Hush, they can overhear
our venereal warmth,
detect our ambrosial breath.

Around the fire at night,
we are children
writing on the sky,
tattooing horses in the dark.
I know the ancient stories
but you invented the stars.
Wherever we are,
it will never be quiet.

Listen. I will make a true hut
of words and never leave it.
You traffic in story,
tap it out on every sidewalk.
If it’s a predictable disease,
it’s not our fault.
It is the wind’s sure breath
that bothers the golden hours.

 

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December dis•articulations poem — Yvonne M. Estrada

Human Recipe Story

Overdue laughter
triggered a high-tech
monsoon.

Everything was reborn
lucky, flowers yellow
and sky blue.

Fortunately,
angels’ wings
sweep everything.

Centuries of memory
become paths
to heaven.

Miles and miles
of illusion
gone.

 

November dis•articulations poem — Terry Wolverton

At the beginning of the month, Terry gave collaborating poet Douglas Kearney four prompts. Douglas conducted fevered writing on each of the prompts and gave that back to Terry. From those words, Terry constructed this dis•articulations poem.

JANKY MOJO

I came in with janky mojo,
head peppered with hard thoughts,
face painted with Kaiju’s blood,
skeleton in a spooky suit.

Who was that vampire in a red cape,
its song tracing through my pulse,
heckling my impatient choices,
talking shit about God?

When did I become a cold machine
that breathes frost and coughs dust?
My bone cage jumps
in the attic of my disappointment.

Lorca too was disappointed
in the magpie’s quick-like song.
My appendages cannot climb
to any honey pulse to fix it.

But egomaniacs love religion,
think it’s all about them.
Gods dance like insects in my head,
and cup my red-eyed soul.

End-times only a strobe-lit
boogeyman, just enough horror
that sometimes I look side-eye
through the flapping trees.

In the end, my fluid roots
the only curative to not bottom out.
I came in abuzz with janky mojo
and no hoodoo gonna take it back.

November dis•articulations poem —Douglas Kearney

For our dis•articulations collaboration, Douglas gave Terry four writing prompts. Terry engaged in fevered writing with each of them and gave the results back to Douglas, who then used the words from that fevered writing to create this dis•articulations poem.

THE LIVESTOCK

we’ve places in our properties for them,
lots for growing them into lots more for us.
in the places, there, we can watch them,
our faces like hands having want. we, beaten

by a cooler outside, said they got a coat kind-of-
a-skin sewn up on their body until—beaten
by the cooler outside—we slip them out it
to wear it on us and so we

are we, for we wear their skin for us.

by our stove-like imagination,
in it, they are a wad of living Crisco,
Crisco shut up in them until we cook it
out them, them out it, into a pan, a cut of them
fried in it out a can and into our mouths,
ground inside our mouths turning us into we-
who-wear-wads-of-body-in-our-bodies
and the wad’s bodies on our bodies and so we

are we, for we cook to enjoy this insiding.

times, we’ve agreements with us
to think for them impassive bodies what they think
our love is like, so we spin answers out slashed mouths,
snipped tongues, the splatterings beaten out their they
in our lots for growing us out of them:

we say they may say we are universes gashing Earth

or baboons long ago hardened into clothes

or that by their brown livings we guarantee us
they want in our mouths, to be our coats,
to tiptoe their they through our imaginations,
graceful as, doting as mothers sewn to cries.

no no no no no—our love is nothing but goodbye.
and how we only want to love it all and so

all of them.

October dis•articulation poem — Terry Wolverton

For our collaboration, Terry gave collaborating poet Ramón Garcia four writing prompts. Ramón engaged in fevered writing with each of them and gave the results back to Terry, who then used the words from that fevered writing to create this dis•articulations poem.

CALLING YOU BACK

Gertrude Stein comes back from the dead
to ask what it is like without you.
Is she the ghost, or is it me?
Words ring out from the black sky
of her face, sound like a song
telling the geography of death,
a place beyond the thousand walls.

Einstein comes back with a black cat;
I ask him its name. He says
her name is Michiko and she comes
from the gutters of the after life.
Her language is unknown to some
but when I sound out the rhythms,
I know she is calling for help.

Without you I am without the root.
The beach is ghostly. There’s a hole
in the sky that weighs on me.
People say let her be, but I cannot.
Beyond the mask I have no face,
only the songs I will never write.
Of all the names, I call just one.

September dis•articulations poem — Donna Frazier

For our dis•articulations collaboration, Donna gave Terry four writing prompts. Terry engaged in fevered writing with each of them and gave the results back to Donna, who then used the words from that fevered writing to create this dis•articulations poem.

What the trees know

Once you were bird float and tree song,
cloud mouth pressed to sky, no desire

but light. You were spirit teased from
time and its beautiful hooks, matter

loosed and crooning in the mirrored
night. It’s said we were kicked out,

bleeding into cities, jailed and judged
without wonder. But beloved,

I have glimpsed you gazing into
narcissus and manzanita,

changed by the thought of escape.
You home to the big old trees,

giving yourself over to God and his
armies of leaves, to birds spreading

down layettes on the concrete banks
of rivers. Our nature is to want,

to try, to balloon into yearning,
but beloved, be still, be faithful

only to now. You are moon and air
and lover. Freed, you are only expanse.

August dis•articulations poem—Terry Wolverton

At the beginning of the month, Terry gave collaborating poet Sesshu Foster four writing prompts. Sesshu engaged in fevered writing with each of them and gave the results back to Terry, who then used the words from that fevered writing to create this dis•articulations poem.

HELL’S ZIP CODE

A letter carrier in Koreatown
dreams of women, bodies dark as tobacco
dreams of resistance, of granite and flood.

The hour is apocalyptic.
Money and fire are killing us.

Union Station decaying, no train of thoughts
will leave this afternoon, no great distance will
be covered, now the terminal is burning.

We sought a damp, vacuous sleep.
We awakened to slavery.

In Mexico City, NY, LA— we’re
rolling through markets of the colonizers
surrounded by dead, Eurocentric thinkers.

Where do we exit this head space?
Where is the clock forgotten?

Across this continent females and males no
longer couple, busy themselves annexing
the lonely minutes, but there’s no where to park.

We no longer see the other
across canyons of sentiment.

Spanish broom rises over the mountains, but
we can’t drive there anymore, no vehicle,
no gas. No place not covered in black asphalt.

What is your vision worth to you,
already dispelling in clouds?

It’s the cumulus that leaves me furious.
Is this a prelude to light, or are we like
the thin dogs that wander the pitted highway?

We flit within parameters;
got a ticket but can’t take flight.

The letter carrier will not open this
hand-made letter to herself, delivered in
blue notes from her faded memory, her dreams.

August dis•articulations poem — Sesshu Foster

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

For Terry Wolverton

burn down the world, because the beer in front of you sweats in its glass
because of a hot pastrami sandwich, pastrami with mustard
because of the glasses, the cars, everyone rushing somewhere
because of a TV and the announcer’s voice
because of the cat locked in the bedroom, because of anything, because of the trees
because of so many in cars rushing in fading twilight, enamored of darkness
burn down the world,
burn down the world

outside the world, everyone is okay, doing things they imagine
outside of the world, you dragged your intellect to mass graves and prison
outside of the world, anything is prayer, nobody practices at childhood
outside the world, those who entered the glinting pain and came out
outside the trees, those who entered the green, you and nobody else
outside the world, those who entered the trees and disappeared
outside the world, you and nobody else
in front of you, you and nobody else

I cover the floor in salt,
there you will find yourself
next to anyone, next to many men who die themselves
I cover the floor in fading twilight,
there you will find yourself
like a crack in your hand, because you are convinced,
because you are certain, next to poets and many who answer the press of time
I cover the floor in similes,
like similes of wire and reason, there you will find yourself
next to the TV of childhood and the announcer’s voice
let these reasons remind you of a handful of names,
a handful of days

Mid-Summer Interlude—Chris Shorne, Natalie Truhan, Terry Wolverton

In June I gave a seminar about Oulipo and the dis•articulations process as a “liberating constriction” in the spirit of Oulipo during the Residency for the MFA Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles. The participants generated four prompts and conducted fevered writing on the prompts. There wasn’t time to have them write the poems but I encouraged them to do so and send them to me. What appears here are the prompts and two poems by Antioch MFA students, as well as the poem I created from the prompts.

The Prompts (generated by seminar participants)
• It started as a mistake
• I’d rather eat a person than my words
• Nothing like the sun
• Sex is to love as the dancer is to the dance

NOTHING LIKE THE SUN
by Chris Shorne

Feverish we start
everybody jump
like a simultaneous translator
holding history while writing
the history while thinking of
writing what will be past tense.

Are we starting?
The buzzing so complete
so modern that modern was
crawling last year
but don’t.
The mistake started
before you were born.

Outside the town of wedlock
fire is electric.
I mean, like, I don’t know everything
like God that’s not God
mistake.

DROPS OF CONVERSATIONS
by Natalie Truhan

The sun is nowhere to be seen;
the fog ate the mountains.
Have you ever heard teenage girls talk about self-respect?
Foolish girls
wearing white jackets, bitching.

Today
small words are uttered by God,
tomorrow
these words are learned by sinners,
sinners who take off,
not interested in birth.

Ever wondered what saints eat for dinner?

I ate a man once (my mistake!)
for dessert (what a chance!)
His smooth,
round,
savory
body parts
were rolling on my tongue like drops of a conversation.

Obsessive particles
grow like mushrooms.

His hips formed creases,

oddness and obscurity
of the hairless mountains
hiding in the fog:
freeways will never touch them.

Let’s begin, let’s finish, let’s leave.
Give me the keys, I need to pee.
How wonderful,
almost impossible—
to never find your way home.

THE CHURCH OF FAILURE
by Terry Wolverton

Like everyone, I come to
the Church of Failure denying
everything, my tongue on fire,
my hat thrown open to the rain.

I sneak in, dragging after me
a chain of mistakes—lost buttons,
white shirts spotted with mud—
gummy with solitary sex.

Surrounded by saints and babies,
I taste the iron of the bells
that chime long into our frayed day,
sway a tired cha-cha as they play.

I offer evidence—chance and
accidents—cast them into ash
like seeds, spill them onto the street.
Busses keep passing by, don’t stop.

Like anyone, I am searching for
redemption, a way to transform
the shape of time. Each of us just
broken dolls, chanting the old words.

Don’t pity me. I can’t un-crack
the tough shell of my soul. Rather,
breathe with me, here in the corner,
holding onto the sun’s spent flame.

July dis•articulations poem—Terry Wolverton

In July, Terry gave collaborating poet Olga Garcia Echevarria four prompts. Olga engaged in fevered writing with each prompt and gave the results back to Terry. This poem is composed by Terry of words from Olga’s fevered writing.

MY MILKY BLUES

An atheist, a dolphin and a homo
walk into Heaven. God looks up but cannot
decipher their cratered faces. Rose water
spills onto the altar silk, marking it pink.

Long-stemmed and small-boned, I scatter whenever
rain spills against the church boat, unanchored in
a chalky sea. Amethyst breath of the moon
touches my face, baffles the infinite word.

You are native to the fierce depths, I am wrapped
in guns and dirty laundry. When we fuck we
go to Paradise, minus the amber ghosts.
All that upward leaping is just like marriage.

I keep imagining your sad, translucent
mouth, a haiku in space with no gravity.
Those plush goodbyes made me gasp with poetry,
La Luna pillowed on the surface of time.

Sharks are now people. Women are pagan. Earth
is littered with injury. Heaven spotted
with scientists, armed with examples. God knows
who are the dead, red jelly in the charred heart.