Reader Poem — Tina Yang

Tina Yang contributed this Reader Poem based on Chiwan Choi’s prompt:

Our Demand is Simple: Stop Killing Us

Stop all the blasts, the paper pen that shoots souls.
Stop all of the napalm gas disguised as ice cream known as ignorance.
Stop perpetuating the myth that the CIA stands for cooks and FBI for homes.
Stop telling us that MJ is alive and with Elvis on the corner of Sunset and Vine.
Stop telling me to go under the knife, there’s a lamb there that’s my sister.
Stop slicing and dicing up my genitals.
Stop the kissing of babies, they’re poisoned apples.
Stop all the cocks of the Republic.
Stop telling me that Mom and Dad are Die and Pie, they’re ponies but I’m not.
Stop telling me Cardboard is Hardboard and they’re food.
Stop that Vanity Fair bullet train that entered Kurt Cobain’s brain.
Stop snuffling over corpses and start sniffing live bodies.
Stop telling me that this is how it has to be and pick up an ax and shovel,
we all gotta get working and start living for one another.


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.

May Poetry Prompts

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

Collaborating poet Chiwan Choi offered these prompts to Terry Wolverton:

Researchers Discover Fracking Fluids in Pennsylvania Well Water (

“Our Demand is Simple: Stop Killing Us.” (nytimes)

Russell Brand voted world’s 4th most influential thinker. (the guardian)

Here is the Face of Civil Rights (

Terry Wolverton offered these prompts to collaborating poet Chiwan Choi:

  • …Man punches bear to protect his per Chihuahua (
  • Home of child goddess unshaken (
  • If he says he’s a woman, he’s a woman (Cosmopolitan)
  • To pimp a butterly (album title by Kendrick Lamar)

We invite readers to write poems in response to one or more prompts (or the fevered writing that results from these prompts) and submit me in the Comments section. The best Reader Poem we receive in May will win a $25 prize.

April dis•articulations poem by Terry Wolverton

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


That June, we’d been oblivious to the idleness of time,
blistered world shaking and swaying underneath our feet;
the herd was wilder then, until our blood stiffened, leaving salt
and thistles in our mouths.

I was alone in the arctic. I became Miles Davis
but without the musical light. I was sticky. I was stuck.
My world was full of strangers, thin and thorn-like. I’d summoned
them with my toothsome charms.

You’d been to the zoo and kept the keys. You let loose needle-thin
horses and weakened goats. It was too late for the dying cats;
they’d become statues, buried in dirt. Your fingers opened me,
hinted at greener miles.

Drivers, not ready for the road. So much invention and mud.
I wanted sugar, not coal. This was part of my charm. Chasing
poems, but not the story. The cross on your shoulders like a map
to nowhere, sunk in doubt.

Were we just not hinged for marriage, blasted chapel collapsed?
For a time we were transparent to one another, children
rolling on the ledge. We’d slither closer, but could not wait to
jump into the white sky.

What we wanted was weightlessness, as if on the jagged moon.
We didn’t know we had exoskeletons, once we’d been reborn,
wings of iron that tore petals from the lilies that waited
by the side of the road.

April dis•articulations poem by Angela Peñaredondo

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


after the film, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour)

What is first gathered, she disassembles
on the dry, insatiable ground.
Secrets she has taken apart
like little screws
from a dead clock.

One must cultivate needs
                         into readied heat, rekindled to breath—
                         alert without want of sun.

If not, then kill them, extinguish
what blossoms. When in the garden,
why prune what is already waste,
soon to be devoured by insects
& taken up by weeds.

How does equity keep
without human sacrifice?

She doubts the ancients, rebukes
any God-given things,
their quick, unnatural handle of power.

Easy she resists their sense of rites,
their invasions and talents,
their detached wings of thought,
their sweat and women
                         you don’t remember wanting, she says,

those old furnaces like lines of jars, fumes
bottled for safekeeping.
What is worth keeping
until the end of your life?

No necessity to run, she occupies
the meditative buzz
just, like, that.

Elsewhere in corners,
she ascends
not to sainthood
but blooms into some sign of midnight:

an I
an underneath of Now
a being of Only
that which finally rewards failure with gifts.

Minus any flash,
she becomes speed.
Through a crowd of others, her veil
ike a black wave of resistance:    truth is a scab.

Reader Poem by Tina Yang

No, it’s not deja vu! It’s another reader poem by Tina Yang, this time in response to the prompt, “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late”–

Because you’re six inches deep in that sink,
Ole Black Pitch where the light don’t shine.
Because Dick Cavett has thin lips and a tight arse.
Because Stop doesn’t mean, Go Green.
Because big brass generals love up little girls with flowers in hands.
Because Henry Eighth fucked then chopped Anne Boleyn into bits.
Because when that dream screams, HEY YOU. TURN
your ears fill with crazed laughter and therefore can’t listen.

The best Reader Poem we receive by April 30 will win the $25 monthly prize. Your poems can be inspired by the April prompts or the April fevered writing.

Reader Poem by Tina Yang

Tina Yang wrote this reader poem in response to the prompt: “The World’s Most Oblivious Driver Leaves Canada”

Don’t cry for me, Vancouver, BC. I’m freeway chasing all the way
to Thompson Falls, MT. For dreams of the plaid refuge
cover cabin in the woods, leaving your painful city of great foodies for his
rasps of cluttered engine that the border cops never bothered to sniff.
Five hours from Seattle and I’m pill popping, high on the North
American mindless.
If you make it there, honey, you can make it anywhere, my family motto.
All right. They’ll never find me buried amongst Little Bear, no not
on Cougar Peak past the streaks of icy curved, rivers as wide as Grand Canyon they’ll find Susie’s curls, tangled with Douglas pines.

Reader Poem by Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia sent us this poem based on Angela Peñaredondo’s prompt, “Dis-Assembly Lines: gestures, situations, and surveillances.” AND, he sent it on his birthday!

Gestures, Situations and Surveillances

Seeking my aura
in galaxies great big universes
–stars and matter.
Focus to epidermis
–particles, hair
and footsteps.

A stretch
and nod
clear cobwebs
of misperception;
the act
gives me pause
to assess.

Too many feelings pressure me
like percussive heartaches
fires of invention
fingertips scorched
with larceny
rebounding in holy
waters of tolerance

The embryonic gesture
of Kubrick’s Star-Baby
stares too deeply
into my recalcitrant

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.