July Fevered Writing — Olga Garcia Echeverria

This month’s collaborating poet, Olga Garcia Echeverria, 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.

Space is hard to decipher. Whenever I try to be an atheist, I look up and get baffled by things I cannot see, like moons made of ice. Jupiter’s menstrual red hot spots. La Luna’s fierce chalky gray cratered face. The Milky Way—fuck! Space is hard, but I imagine it soft, plush to the touch, a down pillow wrapped in silk, cold, littered with glitter, metallic dark blues. Space is hard, but I imagine it liquid, the blackest of oceans with infinite depths.

Dolphin leaps onto boat, injuring woman…and sharks that keep attacking people at the beach baffle scientists. Last time I walked along the shore, I spotted/dodged black rubbery oil spill blobs. Charred jelly fish. Dead seagull. Plastic water bottle(s). Amber seaweed. Scattered red and yellow long stem roses, altar to the sea.

Poetry is against gravity. A haiku, so small boned, can weigh 1000 pounds. It rains upward. We all become unanchored to the surface of the earth and spin like dirty laundry into space. Freeways melt into mercury rivers. Snow hardens in the sun. Space space space is a breath, an opening of the mouth, the beginning of a kiss, or a final goodbye, gasp. It’s the slit of an eye, an ocean in my heart, hot hot pink, translucent amethyst purple. I went to the Falls and saw ghosts in the mist. I went to the Falls and saw ghosts in the mist.

Guns in Paradise—you can take it with you, you know, your gun because God, like us, loves guns and it’s sad to say but even in Paradise its good to be armed. Nowadays they’re kinda letting everyone into Heaven, those homos, for example, what with the legalization of marriage, first it’s Civil, then it’s Church, then, mark my words, it’s Heaven. Even women who’ve had abortions are being let in. Paradise used to be like, like…well, like Hawaii (minus all the native Hawaiians, of course, since they’re pagans), like that but with a shit load of guns. Now it’s gone to shit, but I hear it ain’t all bad. You know in Paradise, you can hunt freely, no permits needed, no animal rights organizations (at least not yet), just you, you, you, and your bad ass guns to shoot shoot shoot…

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 July will win a $25 prize.

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June Fevered Writing — Terry Wolverton

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

birthday cake shot
It was a not untypical white trash holiday gathering, everyone shitfaced and argumentative, and ending with a bullet in the middle of the cake. The cake bled raspberry sauce onto the white tablecloth and everyone was quiet for a moment. But only a moment. Everyone forgot about the cake except the girl whose birthday it was, but they had forgotten about her too, left sitting by herself at the wrecked table while two uncles punched each other in the face and an aunt started screaming.

…low energy transfer orbits to the Japanese lunar
I want to plug myself in to get the energy transfer. I’ve been feeling kinda peekid, pale and anemic, as if my life force needs a booster shot, and that’s when I heard about energy transfer, how someone with too much energy will download it into someone who needs more, like a blood transfusion, but it’s a great way to invigorate. Choice of donor is key–I don’t want some road rage testosterone maniac who’s going to make me yell at my boss and lose my job.

An Iceberg flipped over and its underside is breathtaking
Its underside is breathing, taking oxygen for the first time. It’s spent its life in water and now it turns toward the sun. The iceberg begins to release what’s long been trapped beneath its frozen surface–fossils and bones and stones and fish and darkness. It will lose everything. Its solidity becomes fluid and then seeds attach to its mass and begin to grow. In a few months there’s will be moss and tiny flowers that create a new perfume in the atmosphere. Somewhere, scientists are mourning this development but the iceberg celebrates its metamorphosis.

Double Game is too tame I had no shame it’s really lame the triple quadruple fGame, that’s my name but players gotta play and so I take the first leap onto the hopscotch squares and my hoola-hoop is spinning around my hips and I’m jumping the rope that two girls are patiently twirling. How can I not win but what does it even mean to win, will I get the big red heart or the stuffed panda or will I get both because it’s a double game or will it end in flames as I spontaneously Combust over the Stadium and will someone start singing the anthem for me?

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.

June Fevered Writing — Elena Karina Byrne

Some people are just born over-achievers! This month’s collaborating poet, Elena Karina Byrne, not only produced fevered writing, but actual poems based on four prompts given him by Terry Wolverton:

Prompt: Set Yourself On Fire

Set Yourself On Fire

Goodbye––
On fire set and selfsame sorrow’s
soot and tinder-making and making

you into night’s bonfire bride of bed mattresses thrown
from the windows, white sheet Spanish sails in surrender

as if, as if carried off from that last thing you wanted
yourself consumed by, the last borrowed air taken

from the ashen mirror’s aged face forgetting you every time
you left the room, every time the house

tooth and nail, two-by-four splinter
falls down back into the marriage ground, blackened,
tongue-tied by time and time again

until you can’t see, burning from inside out, beehive-alight:
red dress, flame ribbons, dissolving paper shoes,
shame on you.

 Prompt: Lions Don’t Eat Us

 No, Don’t

Stanley Kunitz said the thing that eats the heart is mostly heart
and I wish, there in the blue blossom-backwards garden I was hungry,
so hungry in someone’s arms again, afraid in full open mouth-desire.
I wish I knew where I put my fear, my childhood, sitting in the past,
it’s zoo, sitting on the winding Escher stairs, saying this outloud
to my dead mother, so loud a lion’s head in the mouth loud
caught audience breath for breath measure making us sad when we go
home to say it to the father, you, dead in the heart and alone
because they are all gone and can’t feed you anymore;
you can’t sit in the lap, on the mouth, kneeling on the floor;
you can’t sit in the cement highchair, sit in the room
with the lion who won’t eat you, who won’t eat me, facing
the garden, his yellow haystack head shaking.

Prompt: Abandoned Detroit Home Filled with Thousands of Flowers

Home Filled with Thousands of Flowers,

so many flowers you couldn’t breathe coming in
the front door, fallen and rising, lilac-bruised and picked and plucked fresh,
slipping hothouse skins, hot-headed-red over green, spring’s temper tantrum
in silence for this… wedding funeral, abandoned sweet constellation,

petals large and small, stem and stamen, torn softly, each
severed pink and yellow head where the missing bed is now,
missing moon table and chairs replaced with so many mouths,
but see there over the fireplace mantle its invisible family portrait, all
Impatience over Peony, the private parts of field Lavender are chained
around the ankles of the children no longer here.

Bathtub filled with so many sunflowers, wedding names for herb rows.
What happens in Detroit, thousand mouse corsage, dust lintel and moldings,
greening their perfume, still wet in prayer along the stained corridor, seed nails
driven away from open sky, when you empty the first home, its roof gone?

Prompt: Sundown Over Ghost Town

Palm Springs, Pale as a Church Candle

You can’t see sundown, where you’re going fast.
You can’t see over the wood steering wheel.
You drive and drive and drive away from the shining shore and
holy smell of her, ghost in a town of ghosts driven.
Giant white windmills ache and cut, ache over
the hills and through the fields, grandmother’s ghosthouse
small in the distance until the hot road brings the water
back, rising up mirage black from the blacktop,
a nun’s habit horizon disappearing as you near.
Desert mountains, fallen politics, last cowboy cactus
and dry rock and rock thrown centuries ago,
your cowboy hat flattened under the pillow until you
wake up over the edge of the canyon, the horsehair bed
tipping its scales, imaginary gun in your hand,
your head, one starving coyote running…

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 June will win a $25 prize.

May Fevered Writing — Terry Wolverton

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

Researchers discover fracking fluids in Pennsylvania well water, but no one cares. They’re drunk on money. That well has pesticides and chemical solvents and fertilizer and motor oil and blood and animal waste and the residue of all the prescription medicines people toss down the drain, so what’s a little fracking fluid to add to the cocktail? We’re mutating faster than we can understand, making our kids autistic, giving ourselves cancer; no wonder we get Alzheimer’s. We drink to forget.

Russell Brand voted world’s 4th most influential thinker.
This redefines what it means to think. To think, one must be famous. One must be young and have a big media platform. One must be semi-hunky in a scruffy sort of way, and have sculpted muscles, all the while pretending none of this matters. To think, one needs to have a slightly sarcastic way of answering the reporter’s questions, all the while seeming sincere and passionate. I used to think that thinking meant having ideas, but now I see I was all wrong.

Our demand is simple: Stop killing us.
But who are we to make such a demand? Don’t we remember signing up for this—to be the sacrificial lambs? They kill us because we are a threat to them. They kill us because they have lost their souls. They kill us because their god is a vengeful god. They kill us because they can. They kill us because, as they have imagined us, we are already dead. They kill us so we don’t kill them first. We demand, but can we make our imaginations more powerful than theirs?

Here is the Face of Civil Rights.
The face has been rearranged, the left eye shattered, the nose broken, the cheekbone disintegrated, the lip split, the jaw dislocated, the collarbone smashed, the windpipe broken, the right ear sliced off. They hold up a mirror: “Not so pretty now, are you?” but she looks and sees something else, something those holding the mirror cannot imagine. She sees her past and she sees her future. She sees herself dancing, dancing on their graves.

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.

May Fevered Writing — Chiwan Choi

This month’s collaborating poet, Chiwan Choi, produced the following fevered writing based on four prompts given him by Terry Wolverton:

Man punches bear to protect his pet Chihuahua.
And here’s a partial list of things this brave man didn’t protect: Tamir Rice. Freddie Gray. The handmade shacks in Nepal. My grandmother during her final days when we had to write her name on all her clothes so she wouldn’t forget. Another person jumping from a downtown window during lunch hour. 214 pregnant girls. My bones that keep bending.

Home of child goddess unshaken while everything crumbles around it, but what does it mean to be blessed when all the walls that you’d embedded your memories into – the welt that the man from the church left of your 15 year old arm; the only photo from mother’s youth, the one with the smile – is nothing more than a growing mountain that nameless people gather around, mourn blindly, walk away from toward a newer tragedy.

If he says he’s woman, he’s a woman.
And if he says I am ugly, I am ugly. If he says let there be light, the darkness crawls out of bed and leaves me without a goodbye. If he says you were a mistake, there are many alleys with mouths open to swallow. If he says he’s a woman, what is my mother? If he says he is leaving, if he says you haven’t tried hard enough, if he says stop by and eat, where do I find enough air?

To pimp a butterfly is no greater than holding my hands open in front of me to catch the rain. Nobody asks me what is my goodness. we assume thirst when we have waited in the sun for an April mercy. To begin a sentence that stops your heart in the middle of a sidewalk as three young people drop their childhoods on the cement and run past you is no greater than water drop on your skin.

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 May will win a $25 prize.

April Fevered Writing – Terry Wolverton

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

There he was, sheepish and handsome on the elevated platform.
He was the latest to achieve sainthood. He had beat out several others for the honor and now he was ready to be ascended. There was a huge crowd gathered below and they were all taking pictures with their cell phones. He waved to them, a little nervously. It was only now starting to occur to him that he was actually going to be catapulted into space, and there was no coming back. He suddenly remembered about human sacrifice—wasn’t that supposed to be an ancient rite, not done anymore?

Secrets of the Velvet Worm Slime.
People think my talents are natural and god-given. They don’t know how hard a woman has to work to cultivate these kinds of gifts. If I told you my secrets, I’d have to kill you, because not everyone can handle this kind of truth. I didn’t learn it from my mother, that’s for sure. An old Romany woman took me under her wing when I was small. She saw something in me, she said, that shouldn’t go to waste. It was hard to breathe in the fumes of her garlic breath, but it was worth it in the long run.

A Garden & Honey Dos.
The garden is an endless taskmistress, relentless in her needs. She will devour your sunlit days and still she needs more. There is always a weedy corner to rebuke you, a tree in need of pruning to shame you. There is always an invasion of insects to make you feel powerless. Bees come and buzz among the blooms, but they too are insatiable, always in need of fresh blossoms. They keep their honey elsewhere, no reward for you, only sweat equity and a sense of failure.

Dis-Assembly lines: gestures, situations and surveillances.
The women are being taken apart, their legs unscrewed from their hips, arms detached from their shoulders, breasts lopped off and put into jars for safe-keeping. The factory is busy; it now runs around the clock, enough work to occupy three shifts. The heat of the furnaces makes me sweat and at midnight, the line speeds up and they ask us to work faster. The foreman always watches, alert for any signs of resistance. The women must be disassembled and if we won’t do it, he’ll find a scab who will.

 

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.

April Fevered Writing – Angela Peñaredondo

This month’s collaborating poet, Angela Peñaredondo, did the following fevered writing based on four prompts given her by Terry Wolverton:

The World’s Most Oblivious Driver Leaves Canada.
It must be the closer one is to the artic. The white and black everything. Here and somewhere there, only the goon chill and its people. No time and all time for idleness. Try to be slick. In zoos, cats grow even wilder. They are so ready for death. Drivers aren’t we all. Not knowing the story of our own feet. Anymore. The underneath map of our towing. A dried mouth. A piece of coal. Who owns our feet? And the road, what foreign road. Strangers they’ve turned to. To hate this poem just as much as driving. Drive me out.

If You’re Reading this, It’s Too Late.
The anthuriums have stiffened to statues on the ledge of my dying balcony, exoskeletons only the super moon can summon. It is weightlessness. A book becomes pigeon-holed, then a green mile long and sky, sky. I have become wood. And the thistles today not reborn into another invention of dirt. June has not come yet and you don’t want it to. Lilies be your fingers and must you now speak anymore of your blasted appendages. Keep keys. The musical kind is what you want, not the kind which opens. But a stuck, sticky hinged thing.

Herd of Goats Get Loose, Chase Children.
Let me be their sweet, blistered feet on something of want and moving.
Let me be there iron horse, small and in three, precious parts. On the self, never alone with the sea rocks and dandelions. Charms left from a steep drop.
Let the wild cats chase me until I jump. Jump without thinking. Jump from sharpest, weakest ledge, yes needle-thin. Still it does not collapse under my weight.
I come at it fast and tear each wing like a transparent petal. Eat and eat and wait. There is that toothsome hint but do not mistake the sacchariferous for the weak. Blood is sugar.

At Pepperdine’s Surf Chapel.
Somewhere up in the toss and roll, something from your world that you would call a far-off cast. It shook like Miles Davis but without autumn leaves. Sea salt has no room for that. No sway for that. It gives up to the marriage of light and mud like sardines in their thin slithering swim. Once I saw a chapel buried up by sea. What is left from doubt and Spanish conquest? It sinks in full like a boulder. Sometime the cross sticks out of the gray waves, thorn-like, covered in barnacles and sea mos. The road-side cliff brushes its shoulders jagged, paying no mind at all.

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 April will win a $25 prize.

March Fevered Writing — Terry Wolverton

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

Two Children May Have Died for You to Have Your Mobile Phone
And two rabbits died for my face cream. I gave up television but it didn’t bring the turtles back to life. There are fewer whales because they are made into lipstick. And my car is causing polar bears to drown. Every step I take makes the world more dirty. I am consuming more than my share of oxygen. The sky has stopped being blue because I grow organic vegetables. Would the world be better off if we all just disappeared? Don’t call me; I’m letting it go straight to voice mail.

yet the name “coltan” elicits quizzical looks.
I tried to change my name but it’s like trying to change a shadow—the old one kept following me around. It looked so sad, like “what am I supposed to do now?” The name took the bus to Skid Row and wandered the streets with all the other souls that have no place to go, but it didn’t fit there either. Its letters were bending and sagging, becoming unpronounceable, its sounds beginning to blur. So it came back to me, asked, “what’s wrong with me?”

What makes anything worth having and owning has a lot to do with preserving art and culture within a natural environment.
I’m so weary of having and owning. My house is overrun with stuff and even when I give it away, more comes. Someday I’ll be entombed with my stuff, suffocated with all that having. I don’t even know what most of it is for. I long for empty rooms with blank walls. Let the art and culture reside inside me as stories, visions, dreams. All the materiality of it, its questions of value and worth, are overwhelming the natural environment, and making me so tired.

New City Election Dates and Schedules; One-Time Adjustment To Align Terms with New Election Dates By 2020. Charter Amendment 1
People don’t vote and I don’t think it matters what day the election is on. People think it’s a big joke and it’s all rigged and no one likes the choices they are given. People would rather go grab a sandwich or a beer, watch TV or take a walk in the sun. In Australia voting is mandatory and even if you’re out of the country on election day you still have to go to your consulate and vote. Or they track you down and arrest you. Even so, the Australian government doesn’t seem so much better than ours. Corporations run everything anyway.

 

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.

March Fevered Writing — AK Toney

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

An inmate escapes from jail, is found in hot tub

This that cool warm relax with no caught up inside just flow like the dirt in this water but I ain’t mud inside this houses without bars and sometimes I still feel locked up where there I’s and air are still in and out like life never flowed from a delta inside a womb of concrete the home I never had inside where I want to become warm and massaged like I have no worries in the world jus this.

Prophet of Respect

They found him with the decrepit the sodomized the raped the childless the enslaved the victims the poor with the scroll of invisible a medal that shined from sweat of forehead because the nervous knew that when they came for the truth it was for live or die take or share but they never came with just respect they always fooled themselves in power

King of sea lions spotted in Southern California waters

I beached bitches, “Awrff! Awrff!” you heard me as I want for avocados instead of raw fish as the pier sits near take a picture dear human being look for me in the waters where no-where but your land is destination…

Scientists take the first ever photograph of light as both a wave and a particle

Random thought rays never seen. What is a star outside the dust that floats?
I am but that dirt but a painting of actual glow caught in mist of life from image travelling is a view of time more than a moment, less than a second life

 

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 March will win a $25 prize.

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.