Reflections on the Process — Mike Sonksen


I really enjoyed the process of Disarticulations. Over the years I have used both the collage method and cut up technique for writing poems many times. This exercise reminded me of that. Some of the phrases from Terry’s fevered writing were so poignant that I used them close to verbatim in different parts of my poem. I looked for aligning themes and also tried to de-familiarize the meaning by putting different clauses together in a different order. Some of the lines had words that were rearranged from Terry’s word bank. Originally I composed a longer poem and then decided to cut some of it. I began by trying to use all of the words and came up with a poem that was close to 50 lines long. I then decided to trim about 7 or 8 lines to make it crisper. In many ways this exercise is comparable to putting together a puzzle. I enjoyed the challenge and would gladly do it again. — Mike Sonksen


February dis•articulations poem by Mike Sonksen

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

Where Do We Go Once We’ve Been Erased?

We live in a nether world.
The sides were picked so long ago.
It’s a violent collision between matter
and the infinite. We don’t give up easily.
You have to live somewhere
and even then the ego holds on.

Where do we go
once we’ve been erased?
I can only keep track of things
in front of my face.

This makes for a chaotic landscape.
It takes a train crash or the invasion
of cancer to the brain to make us cry.
We make it brutal through our resistance.

It doesn’t matter who we are
or what we’ve done.
Even a flowerpot on the porch
can trigger it.
The pecking order was established
in the last millennium.

We have a carbon footprint.
I can feel my molecules dissolving,
still the Earth turns tenderly.
It was just here a minute ago.
There’s no escaping it, being alive leaves
its mark on the Earth,
it’s always been so.
Those gold-colored glasses they wear shape
a vision in which so many of us
are airbrushed out.

We have the fingerprints of money
like a row of bruises. The body will dissolve
until even the memory is gone.
Did I put it someplace safe?
Was it mislaid like my glasses or my keys?
Hold on, I still have more to do today.

I forgot my pendulum. Wasn’t it
tucked into a drawer?
The minute everything is put away
you can’t afford it anymore.
We lost track of real happiness
way before we got here.

February Fevered Writing – Mike Sonksen

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

#1 “Judges should steer clear of the Boy Scouts”
Judges should steer clear of the boy scouts, there’s nothing to say to the boys that hasn’t already been said. The scouts shout about cubs and webelos. We be loyal scouts, judges cast doubt and talk about law and order. Boy scouts tie knots, they’re not all that interesting when it comes down to it. There’s more important matters for judges to attend to. Buy a box of girl scout cookies and keep things moving.

2# “Record setting balloonists touch down in Mexico.”
Long before the airplane, man took flight in a hot air balloon. High amidst the clouds in a helium powered balloon, the aim was for the moon, the mission was to eclipse the horizon, the dream in the sky to touch the angels and say hello to God. The ambition to take flight started long before hot air with projects like the ancient pyramids. From day one man wanted to be more than he is. Inclined to rise to the sky, to move on up, the balloonists touched down in Mexico. They wanted to travel around the world, they set a record on their voyage.

3# “Ash girl and evacuation warnings.”
Watch out for the ash from the volcano, evacuate the state, ash girl was almost blasted by traveling hot lava, stay away from Mt. St. Helens. Vesuvius is not new to us, Pompeii could happen today. Evacuate ash girl, it’s a new world as cold as it ever was. Stay home out of the trajectory, the story of the volcano is older than humans. Name something else with the force of a volcano? Krakatoa cracked the Earth’s magma, the tectonic plates always shake and there’s no shortage of ash, girl. This is your evacuation warning.

4# “She was only a baby.”
She was only a baby and did not deserve her fate, this is when life is not great. The power of hate overtakes the ugly side of many men. These men need to get in touch with their instability. She was only a baby, she had her whole life ahead of her, they need to find another place to project their negativity. She was only a baby, leave her destiny out of your own issues, the evil that men do is why we live in the world we do. People need to reconsider their impulsive behavior, she was only a baby.



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 February will win a $25 prize.

February Poetry Prompts

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

Poetry Prompts from Mike Sonksen:

Dying Shouldn’t Be So Brutal (NY Times)
Gentrifying L.A.: Pick A Side (L.A. Weekly)
Save Us from Washington’s Visionaries (TruthDig)
How We Lost Track of Real Happiness (Alternet)

Poetry Prompts from Terry Wolverton:

Judges should steer clear of the Boy Scouts (LA Times)
Record-Setting Balloonists Touch Down in Mexico… (NPR)
Ash Girl and Evacuation Warnings (Tahoma Literary Review)
“She was only a baby” (

Readers are encouraged to write and submit poems of your own, inspired by one or more of these prompts. There will be a $25 prize for the best poem we receive from a reader in February.

February’s Collaborating Poet – Mike Sonksen


In February, Mike Sonksen will collaborate with Terry Wolverton to create new dis•articulations poems.

Equally a scholar and performer, Mike Sonksen, also known as Mike the Poet, is a 3rd-generation L.A. native acclaimed for poetry performances, published articles and mentoring teen writers. Following his graduation from U.C.L.A. in 1997, he has published over 500 essays and poems for a wide range of journals and websites. His first book I Am Alive in Los Angeles! has been added to the curriculum of several universities and high schools. His weekly KCET column, L.A. Letters, celebrates literary Los Angeles. Most recently in June 2014, he completed an Interdisciplinary M.A. in English and History from the California State University of Los Angeles. His next book, Poetics of Location, is forthcoming from Writ Large Press. Sonksen is now an Adjunct Professor at Southwest College and Woodbury University.