July Fevered Writing — Terry Wolverton

Terry Wolverton produced this fevered writing  based on four prompts given her by this month’s collaborating poet, Olga Garcia Echeverria. Olga will be writing a new poem incorporating her choice of these words.

Trust me. Butter is better than spackle on your sandwich, id better than motor oil on your toast, is better than hair gel on your waffle. Butter is one of only a few foods that is yellow and yellow is the color associated with the navel chakra. One’s chakras need to be vibrating, the wheels spinning so the energy can circulate throughout the system. Only then can we trust. The safest place to be is inside your own, strong energy field, my yoga teacher used to say. Maybe no place else is safe at all. The butter drips from my fingers.

Woman gives birth, fights off bees, starts wildfire in Northern California. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all have such busy lives. My day started cleaning up dog diarrhea. That was before I had to go to the DMV. But no one is writing a newspaper article about me. It doesn’t pay to give birth these days. The planet is already overcrowded, the freeways are a nightmare, and bees are being eradicated by pesticides so soon there won’t be any food for any of us. Why not start a wildfire? It makes as much sense as anything.

What gaining a leap second means for a hummingbird. Just last week my friend was complaining that she needed more time. Then–bam! They stuck another second on the universal clock. How they did this, I’m not sure–and where I spent that second I can’t recall–probably on Facebook or something. Or maybe I took an extra second to look into your eyes and saw some softness there for the first time in a long time. Or msybe I slept in. How the hummingbird spent that second is a mystery to me; perhaps it sipped nectar from the purple salvia in front of our door.

Goldfish the size of dinner plates are multiplying like bunnies. The goldfish keep their secrets. They do not gossip and they do not show their cards. They are poker faced, unlike the bunnies who pretty much let it all hang out all the time. You can always tell what a bunny is thinking, but goldfish are inscrutable. Even at dinner, they say little. They sit serenely with their fins undulating, gills bellowing. They seem attentive, but are not much for small talk.

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 July will win a $25 prize.


July Fevered Writing — Olga Garcia Echeverria

This month’s collaborating poet, Olga Garcia Echeverria, 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.

Space is hard to decipher. Whenever I try to be an atheist, I look up and get baffled by things I cannot see, like moons made of ice. Jupiter’s menstrual red hot spots. La Luna’s fierce chalky gray cratered face. The Milky Way—fuck! Space is hard, but I imagine it soft, plush to the touch, a down pillow wrapped in silk, cold, littered with glitter, metallic dark blues. Space is hard, but I imagine it liquid, the blackest of oceans with infinite depths.

Dolphin leaps onto boat, injuring woman…and sharks that keep attacking people at the beach baffle scientists. Last time I walked along the shore, I spotted/dodged black rubbery oil spill blobs. Charred jelly fish. Dead seagull. Plastic water bottle(s). Amber seaweed. Scattered red and yellow long stem roses, altar to the sea.

Poetry is against gravity. A haiku, so small boned, can weigh 1000 pounds. It rains upward. We all become unanchored to the surface of the earth and spin like dirty laundry into space. Freeways melt into mercury rivers. Snow hardens in the sun. Space space space is a breath, an opening of the mouth, the beginning of a kiss, or a final goodbye, gasp. It’s the slit of an eye, an ocean in my heart, hot hot pink, translucent amethyst purple. I went to the Falls and saw ghosts in the mist. I went to the Falls and saw ghosts in the mist.

Guns in Paradise—you can take it with you, you know, your gun because God, like us, loves guns and it’s sad to say but even in Paradise its good to be armed. Nowadays they’re kinda letting everyone into Heaven, those homos, for example, what with the legalization of marriage, first it’s Civil, then it’s Church, then, mark my words, it’s Heaven. Even women who’ve had abortions are being let in. Paradise used to be like, like…well, like Hawaii (minus all the native Hawaiians, of course, since they’re pagans), like that but with a shit load of guns. Now it’s gone to shit, but I hear it ain’t all bad. You know in Paradise, you can hunt freely, no permits needed, no animal rights organizations (at least not yet), just you, you, you, and your bad ass guns to shoot shoot shoot…

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 July will win a $25 prize.

June Collaborating Poet — Elena Karina Byrne


In June, Elena Karina Byrne will collaborate with Terry Wolverton on new dis•articulations poems.

A freelance teacher since 1982, Elena Karina Byrne is a visual artist, book reviewer, editor, lecturer, Poetry Consultant and Moderator for The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, former 12 year Regional Director of the Poetry Society of America and Executive Director for the AVK Arts Foundation. She is currently a Contributing Editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books, a reviewer for ForeWord Reviews, and Literary Programs Director for The Ruskin Art Club. In addition, Elena was part of the West Hollywood Book Fair’s Planning Committee and worked with Red Car studios editing several documentary film projects including, The Big Read, Muse of Fire and Why Shakespeare? Since 1991 Elena has organized or funded programs for the Museum of Contemporary Art, the University of Southern California’s Doheny Memorial Library, the Getty Research Institute at the J. Paul Getty Center, UCLA’s CAP/Center for the Art of Performance, Columbia University’s School of the Arts International Translation Project, CAFAM’s Poetry and Art Collaboration Series, The Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Metro Art live Poetry in Motion annual readings, and the renowned Chateau Marmont “Act of the Poet” series.

Elena received this year’s Distinguished Service Award from Beyond Baroque’s Literary Arts Center. She was the 2005 Poetry Co-Editor for The Los Angeles Review and one of three judges for the 2006 PEN USA Literary Award in Poetry. Her book reviews have appeared in Slope, Poetry International and The Journal.  Elena’s publications, among others, include, 2009 Pushcart Prize XXXIII Best of the Small Presses, Best American Poetry 2005, The Yale Review, The Paris Review,  American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, TriQuarterly, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Painted Bride Quarterly , Barrow Street, Volt, Antioch Review, Massachusetts Review, Verse, The Journal, Hotel Amerika, Pool, Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner, Verse, Drunken Boat, The Offending Adam, Anthology of Magazine Verse & Yearbook of American Poetry, Breathe: 101 Contemporary Odes, Bear Flag Republic: Prose Poems and Poetics From California , Poetry Daily Anthology, and Spunk and Bite: A Writer’s Guide to Punchier, More Engaging Language and Style.Books include: THE FLAMMABLE BIRD (Zoo Press/Tupelo Press 2002) and MASQUE, (Tupelo Press 2008) and SQUANDER (Omnidawn 2016); she just finished a book of essays, VOYEUR HOUR: Meditations on Poetry, Art and Desire.

Reflections on the Process — Chiwan Choi


Thoughts on the Disarticulation Process

chiwan choi

Over the years, the one thing that I have never been able to prepare for while setting out on a writing project is the element of life, the surprises it brings upon you, the chaos/sadness/joy that comes unexpectedly. It affects the way I work, what I wanted to say, how much time I have to say it. And it was no different this time. While in the middle of this project, so many Life things occurred that took my time and energy and focus away. All these things are challenges in themselves, but having to write, to speak, with words dictated by someone else’s prompt, then ultimately, using only a limited amount of words that have been given to you by someone else, really frustrated me. Which led to the questions—What are words? Who do they belong to? What does it mean to be constrained? Do words equal privilege? Do words equal identity? And ultimately, who am I speaking for when we are assigning sequences to shared vocabulary?

May Fevered Writing — Terry Wolverton

Terry Wolverton produced the following fevered writing based on four prompts provided by this month’s collaborating poet, Chiwan Choi.

Researchers discover fracking fluids in Pennsylvania well water, but no one cares. They’re drunk on money. That well has pesticides and chemical solvents and fertilizer and motor oil and blood and animal waste and the residue of all the prescription medicines people toss down the drain, so what’s a little fracking fluid to add to the cocktail? We’re mutating faster than we can understand, making our kids autistic, giving ourselves cancer; no wonder we get Alzheimer’s. We drink to forget.

Russell Brand voted world’s 4th most influential thinker.
This redefines what it means to think. To think, one must be famous. One must be young and have a big media platform. One must be semi-hunky in a scruffy sort of way, and have sculpted muscles, all the while pretending none of this matters. To think, one needs to have a slightly sarcastic way of answering the reporter’s questions, all the while seeming sincere and passionate. I used to think that thinking meant having ideas, but now I see I was all wrong.

Our demand is simple: Stop killing us.
But who are we to make such a demand? Don’t we remember signing up for this—to be the sacrificial lambs? They kill us because we are a threat to them. They kill us because they have lost their souls. They kill us because their god is a vengeful god. They kill us because they can. They kill us because, as they have imagined us, we are already dead. They kill us so we don’t kill them first. We demand, but can we make our imaginations more powerful than theirs?

Here is the Face of Civil Rights.
The face has been rearranged, the left eye shattered, the nose broken, the cheekbone disintegrated, the lip split, the jaw dislocated, the collarbone smashed, the windpipe broken, the right ear sliced off. They hold up a mirror: “Not so pretty now, are you?” but she looks and sees something else, something those holding the mirror cannot imagine. She sees her past and she sees her future. She sees herself dancing, dancing on their graves.

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.

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 Collaborating Poet — Chiwan Choi


In May, Chiwan Choi will collaborate with Terry Wolverton on new dis•articulations poems.

Chiwan Choi is the author of two poetry collections, The Flood and Abductions. He is also a partner at Writ Large Press, a DTLA based press focused on experimentations in publishing.

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.

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.