December Fevered Writing — Terry Wolverton

Collaborating poet Yvonne M. Estrada gave Terry four prompts. Terry spent 3 minutes practicing fevered writing on each prompt. She gave these segments back to Yvonne, who will use them to create a new dis•articulations poem.

In very simple English they call it good luck, as if the heavens were smiling down upon you, clearing the path with a sweep of angel wings, divesting all obstacles and keeping you from harm—no traffic tickets, no dog bites, no scaly rashes, no overdue bills. Instead there are flowers and trees and fluffy clouds and your favorite songs always on the radio and the woman you love never disappoints you and everyone admires you for you poems.

An exploration of the absurdity of our existence.
It’s more like a recipe—two parts “Can you believe it?” to one part “What the fuck.” Add a pinch of “God has a sick sense of humor.” There might as well be laughter, pee-your-pants laughter, because otherwise it is all too unbearable. So put on the clown shoes and hop into the tiny car. Bend over and rip the back of your drawers. Squirt yourself with a bottle of seltzer. Be the one who laughs so you’re not the one laughed at. In the end, it’s just a pie in the face.

We were lucky that our water tanks were filled before the electricity failed.
Because when the monsoons came they would have washed away the big screen TVs and the high tech exercise machines, but fortunately the earth had already swallowed them up in the big quake that triggered the meltdown at the nuclear plant. The cows were born sickly after that but we don’t eat cows in my country, so the loss of human life was minimal. We are so lucky that we know we’ll be reborn under better circumstances, that everything we see now is illusion.

Slow and patient centuries can grow to create structures hundreds of miles long. It’s like our story, hundreds of miles of words and images and memory, our history, our language, our culture—all a construction. If I blink my eyes it is gone and I’m journeying to a new world where it all looks different and if there is sky, I will call it something else and maybe it’s yellow instead of blue or maybe a color I can’t perceive in this current structure. Or maybe it’s music, or maybe I have no senses anymore but just know things via some other organ. Or maybe there is no “I’ but just one energy.

We invite and encourage readers to create their own poems based on the prompts and/or the fevered writing and post them in the comments section. The best poem we receive before the end of December will win a $25 prize. All poems we receive will be posted to the blog.

December Fevered Writing — Yvonne M. Estrada

For our dis•articulations collaboration, Terry gave collaborating poet Yvonne M. Estrada four writing prompts. Yvonne engaged in fevered writing with each of them and gave the results back to Terry. These are the words she will use to construct her dis•articulations poem.

republicans are not the condom police
but really they are they want to see what you’re doing in the bedroom they want to make sure that there’s a hole in every condom more women to control all the better their perverse enjoyment. their ancient relatives fucking sheep on a boat inventing venereal disease and beastiality simultaneously. they drive around in their  little police cars pulling people over to see if they have their condoms on, they lie! they are the condom police! it’s all their fault they are the Dickheadz of the millenium

written on beasts
is the true creation story.  the man made ones are so predictable.  the words are tattooed by tapping a sharp stick dipped in ink from a net full of octopi pulled from the ocean and lugged back to the stortellers hut where the wild horses flinch but do not run away they must spread the word they know no one else will bother

of being engine red the fire starts of being sky
blue because the wind can only be felt of being gold are our friends we knew before the age of computers of being brown there are those that will never know of being crushed until there is nothing left bit a good way to die

when it’s dark out 
I play it in the ambrosial hours only. once the sun rises i no longer understand the words. at night there are  so many people that can overhear. I need the cover of the dark so I can see what’s going on without being detected. Under the radar I listen to albums by rap stars. under the stars I listen to G easy and his new album. when it’s dark out I can breathe I can see I can feel the warmth coming up from the sidewalk of the day’s sun. things are quieter the hush of traffic. children gone to bed.

 

Readers are encouraged to write poems in response to the prompts or to the fevered writing. The best Reader Poem we receive in December will win a $25 prize. All poems submitted will be posted to the blog.

November Fevered Writing — Terry Wolverton

For our dis•articulations collaboration, collaborating poet Douglas Kearney gave Terry four writing prompts. Terry engaged in fevered writing with each of them and gave the results back to Douglas. These are the words he will use to construct his dis•articulations poem.

Crisco fried funk
I think of Crisco, white and bland in the can, its impassive face revealing nothing. Likely it has no thoughts, but heat it up and its complexion clears and it starts hopping in the pan, popping on the stove, splattering a little sting onto the cook’s unsuspecting skin. Drop in the funk, itself just an unformed wad of dough, and watch it begin to spin and brown and harden somehow, growing a toasty coat on the outside and a soft cake inside.

Only a partial relationship to reality
The philosopher said, “reality is agreement,” so I said goodbye to reality a long time ago. Once you cut yourself loose, there’s no turning back. You can’t even imagine how you got bamboozled into it in the first place. The imagination has no place in reality–it’s all about “what it is” rather than what it could be. Living in possibility requires adaptation to a cooler kind of light, a thinner oxygen. Your survival is not guaranteed. But you begin to love that edge, the tipsiness of every day.

Vulgar yet weirdly graceful
People have a lot of contempt for this kind of woman. They want her to be more like a butterfly, less like a baboon. They want her to wear little slips of dresses and not get her hands dirty, to tiptoe about on the thinnest heels, not to ground her soles into Mother Earth. They want her to pretend she has no body, that her body belongs to them and she may not enjoy it. She’s not supposed to acknowledge her slash, her gash, her split in the universe through which light enters.

The infantilization of people of color and women,
and the women who are people of color are the most babied of all, but not babied in the Western post-industrial middle class model of doting and spoiling and commodifying, no, more like the pre-capitalist model of property, like livestock. Like infanticide. No one is dressing us up in doll clothes and fussing over us. No, we are dragged by the hair and beaten until our cries no longer disturb their sleep. Who’s your daddy, they ask, but we’ve learned better than to answer, our mouths sewn shut, our tongues snipped out.

Readers are encouraged to write poems in response to the prompts or to the fevered writing. The best Reader Poem we receive in November will win a $25 prize. All poems submitted will be posted to the blog.

November Fevered Writing — Douglas Kearney

For our dis•articulations collaboration, Terry gave collaborating poet Douglas Kearney four writing prompts. Douglas engaged in fevered writing with each of them and gave the results back to Terry. These are the words she will use to construct her dis•articulations poem.

Hard Day of the Dead Dances on
come on everybody got a day of the zombie get down to the boogeyman up jump the spooky to the end of time I saw what you done did with  the cold pulse and then the strobelit honey to the similac. a pepper tree, naw naw naw, but you climbed and chucked down on some kinkajou mojo. It wasn’t a primate but it dilated. any way the skeleton oh and find the bones find the bones. the goofer dust is the do it fluid, the kambucha of your hoodoo fix. we be talking all kinds of roots. the alex haley to the two head I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to paint bones on a suit only to find I could just trace my own cage.

Why Latinos Love Horror Films
because of love and the old time religion that goes back further how edith Hamilton oh dear frosty edith tried to side eye anypeople who could imagine god’s powerful enough to not look like them all day. egomaniacs! the bottom line is a thought of blodd that ain’t always limpieza, but I wonder that too. thinking of Lorca and the blood shot through his deep song and anytime you think latinos why you gotta trot out Lorca. but Soul is Duende in a sketch but not janky only quick like and del toro (red cape as blood is red) as a vampire is a robot insect as U.S. looks down, breathing red eyed from its attic

Montage of Heck
heck of a job heck of a thing to say heck of a heckler of a jeckle them magpies oh Terry(toons) I’m in love! the fact of the matter is Cobain I see all in that weird fleece flapped cap looking all, well, fucking Cobainesque. we can be disappointed in a choice right but hell what would you do with them barrels looking you in the face like those times you climb something high and have to tell yourself “don’t jump. don’t jump” like how to not ogle you say “don’t look. don’t look.” or when you are impatient with Nicole you say “don’t say ________. don’t say ____________.”

Robot doctors and lawyers
Doctors for robots and lawyers for them or doctors and lawyer robots? Litigibot. Docbot. The kind of machine that knows how to find precedent. I would get an attorneybot a botister, a cyberadvocate, oh shit, like how Lety saw “mecha Godzilla” and thought it was like a chicano kaiju. I don’t know about what kind of curative a robot would need to take and I don’t have time for any more puns but I could imagine how the robot would enter on it’s conveyer, a special appendage for cupping testicles, a speaker grill buzzing *cough* cough* cough*

Readers are encouraged to write poems in response to the prompts or to the fevered writing. The best Reader Poem we receive in November will win a $25 prize. All poems submitted will be posted to the blog.

October Fevered Writing — Terry Wolverton

Terry Wolverton produced this fevered writing  based on four prompts given her by this month’s collaborating poet, Ramón Garcia. Ramón will be writing a new poem incorporating his choice of these words.

No on can be slain in absentia or in effigie.
I disagree. The night is long and one can die a thousand deaths at the hands of others’ imaginations. How they slaughter me–those who believe I have wronged them and those who envy something in my house, those who dispute my politics and those who have an ancient feud with my ancestors. All night long, I stagger and fall, rise again only to succumb to poison or bullets, fire or gossip. I am slain.

These first three steps are the acceptance steps.
The recovery cha-cha is a new dance craze but I am tripping over my feet again, stumbling across the floor, looking for my partner who is passed out on the bandstand. Her vomit cakes my new shoes, but still I make the moves–one-two-three and one-two-three, and my nose is shiny with the effort and no one is looking at me. I used to love to dance, a little girl in a tutu and everyone would smile but those days are over and now the music sounds like a machine that’s breaking.

Narcissus, the solitary, is the very image of the adolescent.
Why would they make it take so long before our brains develop? Why would someone engineer a being who was capable of reproducing long before its brain could make a good decision? Has something gone haywire with the food we eat or the water we drink or the chemicals we ingest? Are we developmentally delayed? Maybe we need to remain solitary until our brain catches up to our hormones.

Bloom is aware of conspicuous omissions.
What is the awareness of a bloom? Science tells us plants sense when another plant is in trouble and they send out shoots in that plant’s direction. They try to help. This means plants are sentient, another blow to our pathetic theories of superiority. Plants will be around to clean up the mess after we blow it all up.

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

October Fevered Writing — Ramón Garcia

This month’s collaborating poet, Ramón Garcia, produced this fevered writing based on four prompts given by Terry Wolverton. Terry will be writing a new poem incorporating her choice of these words.

Don’t say his name (Los Angeles Times)
Don’t say his name, say his mask.
Say his other name, the one that is not him, the name that is her.
Don’t say his name, say his face, his thousand faces.
Say what is not his name, his other name.
Don’t say what is not his name, say what is.
Don’t say his name, say Gertrude Stein.
Say this and say that but don’t say I didn’t tell you his name.
Say this name not that name, say it’s his and not a name.
Say all names and say his, but don’t say his name.
Say all that is his, his name and his not name.
Say his name, but don’t.
Say it, say his name and not his name, his mask and his face.

I never thought Michiko would come back
after she died. (“Alone” by Jack Gilbert, Poetry)
I never thought Michiko would come back after she did. But why not? People die and people come back. They’re called ghosts. They are called Michiko. To come back one must be dead, but who said so? Maybe Michiko said so, that’s why she died and came back as a ghost. Or maybe it was not a ghost just someone who comes back. After death, maybe it’s all a coming back to something. To a something called Michiko. I like the sound of the name and therefore it’s ghostly, beyond life, which is rhythm, which is language.

Einstein ring helps weigh a black hole (Earthsky.org)
Einstein ring helps weigh a black what? A black hole. A black hole in the wall. A black ring? What is an Einstein ring? Don’t’ ask me because I don’t know. I only know that it’s black and it’s a whole cause that’s what the saying says, that’s what the Earthsky says. What I say when I say what I write. This sounds like Einstein on the Beach, and it might be. But what beach, what Einstein, what sky? Why? Why sky? Why Einstein, which Einstein?

Live from the Gutter (song title, from What a Time to Be Alive, Drake and Future
Live from my Gutter. Live from what Gutter? Is Gutter a place, a geography? Or is it a state of being? Can it be a state of being, a Gutter. Can it be the name of a person or a cat? Gutter. It has a name ring to it. It has a song written into it. It has something to ring a song into it’s Gutter. Into it, it’s something and it’s alive. It’s alive to what is gutter. To what is guttering. To what is a song and what is Gutter. Guttersnipe. What is a guttersnipe? I really don’t know. Is it a song? An unknown song, and is Gutter the root word of a gutter word? I don’t know. It’s a song. Let it be in the gutter, without capitalizing a gutter, a Gutter. It’s alive, it’s live and black and it’s a hole. It’s a sky and it’s a Gutter. Help.

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

September Fevered Writing — Terry Wolverton

Terry Wolverton produced this fevered writing  based on four prompts given her by this month’s collaborating poet, Donna Frazier. Donna will be writing a new poem incorporating her choice of these words.

Baby may dangle temporarily but sooner or later they float up into the air and hover over the city in their brightly colored layettes like balloons accidentally loosed by a careless child. The babies are unafraid, being so high in the sky; they like having a view of everything—the tops of trees and the puffy clouds and the roofs of homes and the flag poles at the school they will never have to go to now. They speak with the birds and they speak to God. You can hear them crooning their little songs.

Hooker’s Manzanita
It has a bad reputation, but don’t judge. You don’t know what you would do if you were hungry or had gotten kicked out of the house or were addicted to drugs you had no money to buy. Why a hook, I always wonder? Is it because they supposedly lure you in? If anything, these women seem like the ones who are hooked, like fish once free in the river, then dangling by the mouth and bleeding. She liked to do it underneath the trees, the big old trees with spreading leaves.

Not by works of law because living things are subject to our own laws, directions of destiny and the expanse of spirit. You cannot pin us down or confine us to certain rooms or make us do things we don’t want to do. You can try, and you do try, and you have courts and police and judges and jails and armies but still you are unable to change the course of nature. The river will overflow its banks despite the concrete and the lover will do the hurtful thing despite promises and no matter how you press, we will escape.

Reflective light right side up
It’s said that Narcissus stared into the surface of the pool and glimpsed his own image. He lived in a time without mirrors and he thought it was another man he saw—a beautiful young man. He could not do anything then but spend his days gazing into the water, yearning for his object of desire, who always left him at night. How the moon teased him, giving him the merest suggestion of his beloved, shadowy and uncertain. Only the sun was faithful.

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

September Fevered Writing — Donna Frazier

This month’s collaborating poet, Donna Frazier, produced this fevered writing based on four prompts given by Terry Wolverton. Terry will be writing a new poem incorporating her choice of these words.

Cowboy cologne … smells like what I imagine cactus smells like, dust and point, odd unanticipated flower just stuck there on the end of a paddle. I don’t know how they apply it, the flower or the scent, but you can feel it coming like some cedar path you weren’t expecting on the side of the street you’ve lived on for so many years you’ve stopped seeing it or the forest at its edge, saplings when you moved in. Birds are circling the trunks like lunberjacks or cowboys in that flow of herd, the river of it that they lasso and tie up.

Deer are particularly fond of roses. It’s the petals, which fall from the mouth like tongues, speech flying to the ground, unexpected thought. They eat alone, the deer in the rose garden, the colors tender, the sounds crunching in the mouth. I can’t understand the dialect of rose they speak, but they look up as I pass and I drop leaves, a conversation we leave on the trail behind us. I had tasted the buds myself but found them tough. No allergies though. Later I dreamed of clover and running.

Garden dancer cha-cha. I say they oughta waltz or stand still, but I know I’m wrong. They’ve planted snow peas and asparagus and the music is some kind of fertilizer, the dance a kind of vibration therapy. Okay. I could give in to a little swing, a little something shaking the shoots and my hair taking on a little green in solidarity, the shoots sprouting from fingers that might or might not be mine. In the shade, the dance slows to a single cha, but the plants anticipate the beats and keep on moving.

Extreme snake tattoo. I don’t know why the snakes need them. Diamonds, stripes, that “blend with sand” pattern, seem like enough. But some want more, like the red flashes on the side of a turtle’s head, that kind of bling. Snakes on the arms and legs of a human? They hang from limbs waiting for prey I guess, trying to blend in. Inside the skins, reptilian and otherwise, there’s ink flowing, needles and buzz, some identity exchanged.

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

August Fevered Writing — Terry Wolverton

Terry Wolverton produced this fevered writing  based on four prompts given her by this month’s collaborating poet, Sesshu Foster. Sesshu will be writing a new poem incorporating his choice of these words.

Deceased poet
When the dead poets come to dinner I cover the floor in peanut shells. I lock the cat in the bedroom because someone is certain to be allergic. I serve similes as hors d’oeuvres and the glasses of absinthe glint green in the fading twilight. I can’t seat a formalist next to a symbolist, or the LANGUAGE poets next to anyone. Everyone appreciates the strict meter of the main dish, but I find Whitman poking around in my kitchen cabinets, looking for the table salt.

What cannot be written are the names of all the dead, the ones disappeared, buried in mass graves, those who entered the prison and never came out, who swung from trees, were dragged behind cars, raped and raped by so many men until nothing was left. And the ones who mourn them, search for them, who travel to the capitol demanding answers, the ones who offer prayers, the ones who die themselves, never knowing. These names would set the page aflame, and burn down the world.

You are a medical scientist. You have devoted your life to a search for answers. You believe there are answers. You have placed your faith in reason, in the intellect, in progress. You are convinced that once answers are found, life will improve. Some days you find yourself just enamored with the idea of being the one to find the answers, you and nobody else. Some days you practice your acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in the bathroom mirror before heading out to the lab. You believe anything is okay in pursuit of answers.

Wire hangars on a bar in the closet. They’re like a group of men jostling elbows at a bar. The baseball game is on TV and the announcer’s voice reminds you of childhood. The beer in front of you is sweating in its glass and the darkness heals the pain of the outside world—everyone rushing somewhere, doing things they imagine are important but which really mean nothing in the press of time. You order a hot pastrami sandwich, douse it in mustard, grab a handful of peanuts in the shell and let them crack in your giant hand.

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

August Fevered Writing — Sesshu Foster

This month’s collaborating poet, Sesshu Foster, produced this fevered writing  based on four prompts given by Terry Wolverton. Terry will be writing a new poem incorporating her choice of these words.

Hell’s Zip Code

Guadalupe to Union Station 7 pm great
white cumulus roiling cumulus upon cumulus
my little money tree
the student gave me, thanks! the idea that hell
hath a furious zip code: Kafkaesque letter carriers
scurrying to deliver dead letters
to some long dead forgotten LOS ANGELES
(Terminal Annex, of course) (of course)
open 24 hours like the gas station where the
woman set herself on fire, “I can’t take this shit anymore”
image that light—seen from a great distance—a burning
human (Ana Mendieta) like L.A. on fire 1992,
prelude to Katrina

Dreams Worth More Than Money

San Gabriels sleeping, yucca, creosote, Spanish broom, tobacco
sleeping, decayed granite asleep and clouds of dreams in the arroyos,
over the canyons, pitted, rugged, desiccated ravines of
consciousness that resists (therefore coupled to) Eurocentric
“thinkers” (Beaudrillard, Benjamin, Semiotexte, whatever)
resistance within parameters of colonization, the
resistance of colonizers against mestizaje, dark bodies,
the dreams of the Other, the Othering of dreams,
“to suggestion the European variant is lonely thinking
of sole thoughts

Slavery to Vegetables

Upstate NY’s blue mountains, they served us very (very)
nice home-made breads, scrumptious soups with barley in it,
like I said to somebody, “white people’s food,” but good!
Butter on fresh-baked breads, where do you get that?
I got a ticket driving south from the place on the wooded
highway— speeding, pulled over by female HP, “expired
registration,” it wasn’t my car! (I was to leave the vehicle
parked in the parking lot of the train station or airport,
whatever it was— its like a dream, faded ticket of a dream.)
Damp asphalt covered in leaves. Night flight across the
continent.

I’m No Longer Afraid

Mostly, they won’t try to kill you, mostly, the dead dog will not
lift its head to speak, you will not long wander through vacuous
spaces of warehouse-like Mexico City market places seeking the
exit and your people, Koreatown on a busy afternoon, the Metro
line station at Western, Jose Lozano people surrounding you,
“in a flood of humanity,” (black and white orchestral tones rising,
Charlie Chaplin’s clock flits by like a barracuda in the strait) any
minute now I gotta go, I’ll awaken, dispel the thin visions of poofy
memory, attendant sentiment and electric fan— Kerouac’s notion,
“we’re already dead,” the male apocalyptic self-indulgence of
themselves as apotheosis, not the woman attending to business,
doing the chores. No longer afraid.

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