It’s easy to pull words from the same pool we allot ourselves, so what makes this project difficult, but equally rewarding, is that those words may not be in this pool of words. This forces us to look beyond the usual way we’ve trained our brains to respond to the themes that interest us. And that creates this domino effect of forcing us to look beyond those usual ideas or structures. I found myself taking notes while trying to figure out what the next line was gonna be, because some of the words whispered to me some pretty wild ideas. Also, I’m always looking for different processes, and using the fevered writings as thesaurus is my new favorite, it’s constrictive which I find helps me focus in on an idea, while at the same time not having the words might let us get away with writing somewhat abstractly. A really wonderful project, thank you so much for inviting me Terry! —Jessica Ceballos
At the beginning of the month, Jessica gave Terry 4 writing prompts. Terry produced fevered writing for each prompt and gave it back to Jessica. This is the poem Jessica has dis•articulated:
Not-so-simple economics is what convinced us to
look for the edges of this world extreme.
we are allowed to keep loveless arms
from robbing the luckier of us.
We used to jump into the sky,
no one needing to prove anything,
completing unfulfilled screaming desires.
They said lucky, we said…blue.
Now it takes two whole days
for the madness to run through this space,
to make us happy, one more time,
to exist with one another, for one more day.
Whatever he said was less than
what each of us needed, to ensure…an us.
The new mattress on the bed,
has been worse than bad.
Instead of trying to convince each of us to worry less,
we confronted those dark nights, for peachier mediums.
You and I don’t need a we.
This month’s collaborating poet, Jessica Ceballos, did the following fevered writing based on four prompts given her by Terry Wolverton:
New weapon against superbugs will just be another weapon against superbugs, against bugs, only making them super. Superior. What would happen if all the bugs in the world were destroyed? Do we need more weapons, against anything? I suppose when we make things strong enough to destroy us, we think twice, until we can make us stronger to destroy.
Mall closes after woman falls seven stories
I didn’t want to be there the time he fell off the chair, standing up, did I say fell? I didn’t want to be there the time he fell of his cliff, that time was way too close to call, way too close to where he wanted to be. Malls should close when people fall seven stories, so that they don’t have to wonder if she fell on purpose, hearing them ask themselves that question for the rest of their lives.
More than 50 sperm whales, including mothers and calves, visited Orange County
I would like to trade places with a sperm whale, have her live in Los Angeles for a day, the day before she visits Orange County. Calves don’t belong in Orange County, unless they plan on staying. Maybe the whales can stir the waters, make them digestible, taste better, and share the Orange County stories with their Alaskan friends.
the future was such a long time ago, she whispered into the back of my neck, just under my ponytail, as I was bending down to lock my hoverboard. It was the first time we went riding up this particular canyon, where I’d gone hiking everyday 30 years ago, when it was covered with grass and dirt. The city was called Los Angeles then, and Spanish wasn’t such a rare language. From the top of this hill we would be able to see the downtown skyline, maybe even city hall. Funny how we thought we’d never see the day when grass was outlawed and “ethnicity” became a historical term. The future was such a long time ago.
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.
Prompts must be drawn from the media — print, broadcast or social media.
Poetry Prompts from Jessica Ceballos:
Readers are encouraged to write and submit poems of your own, inspired by one or more of these prompts.