Reflections on the Process — Donna Frazier

Donna at the Ritz_poet1962fullGLYNN

I wasn’t a stranger to the disarticulations process. I’ve sometimes played along when prompts have been posted, and I occasionally look at older entries on the blog when I wanted to start a poem from someplace outside myself. But this time was much more intense. We had a theme to honor. And a place, too—Descanso Gardens. I sat with lists of words, staring at them for long stretches and willing some image of my own to come to mind. I felt a start of deep recognition when Terry posted her free writing here, because I have turned each of those words over and over and over, sometimes willing them to be something else, the perfect word I couldn’t have.

I moved Terry’s words around, fruitlessly it seemed, until my mind let go and delivered “bird float” and “tree song,” and then the words were mine. The poem was there in the unclenching, and later in allowing myself to let words and couplets go instead of insisting they stay. This was a difficult, beautiful experience, made all the better by drawing inspiration from the gardens. And the next piece I wrote, with an infinite choice of words, was particularly delicious. I love constraint, and oh how I love releasing myself from it

So grateful to Terry for suggesting that we work on this together!


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.

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.

September Collaborating Poet — Donna Frazier

Donna at the Ritz_poet1962cropGLYNN

In September, Donna Frazier will collaborate with Terry Wolverton on new dis•articulations poems. This month is special, because Donna and Terry’s collaborations, which took place earlier, will appear as part of the exhibition, “Oasis,” curated by John David O’Brien, that opens at Descanso Gardens on September 13. Donna and Terry will be reading from their work at the Gardens on September 13 at 3 p.m.

Donna Frazier: Realized early that poetry is an oasis for a nonlinear mind flying about in a linear world. Fell in love with it. Spent time with great teachers like William Matthews, Marie Ponsot and Terry Wolverton. Is always writing and editing, much of the time for other people, but in the best moments for her own muses. Has published work in places like Mudlark and First Things. A collection of her dreamy and practical inspiration for writers is on her website at