Reader Poem by Henry Medina

I’m taking a poetry workshop in Whittier taught by Eric Morago (check out his web site He gave us this prompt: write a poem in which you imagine/describe your own death. Here is what I wrote:


I will die
at 3 a.m.
trying to escape
the third-story apartment
of a sociopath
who swears
both parents
fucking him
in his crib
at age one,
cutting him
with blades
& even
inviting their friends
to the
bloody baptism.
having to pee
to exit his bedroom,
I will lunge for
the front door,
after being
tormented by his
ice pick,
two heavy butcher knives,
an arthritic gun
& dark rats
in that order.
I survived.)
I will run
into his courtyard,
him pursuing me
like an unstoppable memory.
As a last recourse,
I will climb
an eight-inch ledge,
cars honking
& fading far below me.
My right shoe
smeared in shit
from a streetwise cat
(that perhaps
in another life
could have been
loved indoors
by a caring family)
will slip
on the ridge,
& without time
to form a prayer
to accuse
or excuse my stalker,
without fully conceiving
the loneliness
that placed me on that edge,
I will fall
my heart
& beating
& faster,
a parachute
to open.
My head
made soup
will hear
the ambulance’s
distant howl,
“At last


Winner, dis•articulations Reader Poem for August —Henry Medina


Henry Medina received his BA in English from Cornell University. When he is not writing for fun, he is playing with his chickens, bunnies and piglets on his farm. He is currently writing his first book, a collection of short stories.

His poem, “Invitation to CA Conrad” appeared on the site on August 19, 2015:

Henry will receive a $25 honorarium for the prize. We hope readers will be inspired to participate in this process by writing your own poems. Each month we’ll award a $25 prize for the best Reader Poem we receive.

Reader Poem — Henry Medina

Henry Medina writes:
I was inspired by the CA Conrad (Soma)tic Poetry prompt, “Confetti Allegiance,” where one poet celebrates another. Specifically I enjoyed CAConrad’s poem “Love Letter to Jim Brodey.” In response, I wrote a poem to CAConrad.

Invitation to CA Conrad

Let’s say the obvious
so our lives
resemble art

In the crucible of our being
let’s create
and stories

Let’s create nothing
the things emerge
damp from our souls

Let’s tell our hearts
to unlearn fear
to recount yesterday

Let’s be
little rivers of water
the defects of our lives

Let’s change something
so its wave of effects
will lift us

Let’s wash
away with the present

find the ending first
before the beginning

Reader Poems — Henry Medina

Reader Henry Medina responded to a number of prompts with fevered writing. I’d like to challenge him to disarticulate these and write a poem!

Response to prompt:  Hell’s Zip Code (

The car hits me with an atrocious blow. In a thousand directions my scream flies. This instant, this pain is called hell. Ay Dios, I pray, Santificado, why is there more pain in the world than desire? For an instant I see the zip code on the blue plaque that reads the name of the street. Ay Dios, why is hell so close?

Response to prompt: Dreams Worth More than Money (album title, Meek Mill)

My head fell with the weight of the dollars that grew like hair. I was a green horse, tussling my mane of money. They offered me to run in the Kentucky Derby, but I said why if I already have more money than desire. I prance with airs, my tail of money sweeping the streets of the poor.

Response to prompt: Dreams Worth More than Money (album title, Meek Mill)

In the year 2002 I decided to desiccate myself like a mummy. My heart I donated to illusion, and the centimeters of my soul to profit. Without faith, without eyelids, I examine the world. The living dead, we recognize we each other. The scent of rotting dreams more alluring than money.

Response to prompt: Slavery to Vegetables (

In this garden celery rules with a whip of leather. Yes, it killed the cow to arm its tools of torture. The white owl that traversed the sky, it pierced it with the javelin of the TV antenna. The animals in terror hide themselves in their cages. Only I, naked and accustomed to slavery, serve under the shadow of the curly hair of the celery.

Response to prompt: “I’m No Longer Afraid” ( cut)

I’m no longer afraid, I told the saw that cut me in half. I no longer fear your jaw, I said touching the teeth of the mermaid who had torn me to shreds. On the beach there were many dead mermaids rustling like potato sacks in the breakers. To my questioning look, the fanged mermaid said, “We are cannibals.” The dead king could not offer me advice. His head went sliding in one direction, and the wind offered me passage in another direction.

Best Reader Poem we receive in August will be awarded a $25 prize. Poem can be in response to the August prompts, the fevered writing or the poems posted. We must receive it by midnight on August 31.

Reader Poem — Henry Medina

Henry Medina was inspired by the prompt, “Goldfish the Size of Dinner Plates Are Multiplying Like Bunnies”

Goldfish the Size of Dinner Plates Are Multiplying Like Bunnies”
(Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, 6/26/15)

I am an old man, Asian and wise. The shadows of the wisteria fall against my wrists like tattoos. My steps start a communion with the sacred morning. The sun rises like a plate enormous, reflecting thousands of rays of lights like swords of a warrior that wants to dominate the world. Only my fish, enormous and orange, wriggling calmly under my bridge, know that the battle never begins.

Reader Poem — Henry Medina

Henry Medina submitted this poem in response to the prompt, “Woman Gives Birth, Fights Off Bees, Starts Wildfire in Northern California.”

Woman Gives Birth, Fights Off Bees, Starts Wild Fire in Northern California (Joseph Serna and Veronica Rocha, LA Times Local, June 30th)

Has it ever occurred to you that we live in a Salvador Dali painting? For example, your dog exploded with a buzz of hornets, and your mother’s umbrella is an eternal fire. Yesterday a cascade of skin passed by my house like a sidewalk, and images from the mirror skated over it like couples in love. Among so much entangled hair there are black telephones that we can use to call the dead. And that woman so sad, why does he keep looking at me? Doesn’t she realize that her face popped from my toaster like a piece of bread, happy and ready to smell the world?

Reader Poem — Henry Medina

Henry Medina wrote the following poem in response to the prompt, “What Gaining a Leap Second Means for the Hummingbird.”

What Gaining a Leap Second Means For a Hummingbird (Nicholas St. Fleur, New York Times, 6/30/15)

I added a grain of sand to the beach, and the sea groaned under the burden. I subtracted a ray of light, and the star collapsed like a pile of sticks on my lap. O delicate world, please take me down from this spider web that has me suspended over a copper-colored sea, where my shadow appears and disappears with each sunset and sunrise. And now how to cope with an extra second? The hummingbird suspended at the level of my face does not decide if it wants to drink of me or not. In that second of doubt, my heart breaks.

Reader Poem — Henry Medina

Henry Medina wrote the following poem in response to the prompt, “Trust Me. Butter is Better.”

Trust Me. Butter is Better.

In the evening with the mist rubbing its eyes, I confused the word “Better” for Butler, and that immediately made me think of William Butler Yeats the poet. Or perhaps I thought that the word Butter gave light to Yeats. Or maybe I thought that all the world is Yeats. That he can destroy everything and present everything again neatly folded in a poetry with four lines per stanza and a pain, no an ecstasy, achieved in fewer than 14 lines. O sonnets unfinished, O almost-achieved wisdom, how can tell if I am a man or light?