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 — Olga Garcia Echeverria

Olga Garcia Echeverria wrote this poem in response to the prompt “Burn Down the World.”

Burn Down the World

take it apart
piece by piece
like a jigsaw
like an erector set

Dump all the world’s trash
into the gutters
and then into the swollen gut
of the ocean–fuck it!

Watch the carcasses of fish float sideways
dull tattered scales
empty eye sockets
tiny fish mouths quivering
ceaselessly in the sea drift
(as if they were trying to say something)

Burn down the world you all
and then walk on the bones
of the salted and the charred
take a selfie with the powdery gray ashes
Post on Facebook
marvel at our survival and this conquest
that extends beyond the moon
and into the stars

Burn it all down like there’s no tomorrow
and then go to a march
any march
and march on towards Whatever

Laugh at the tag on the wall that says,
“If trees had guns, we’d all be dead”
and answer,
“But they don’t.
They don’t.
They don’t.”

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.

Winner, dis•articulations Reader Poem for July —Manuel Velez


Manuel J. Velez received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso’s Bilingual Writing Program in 1996.  Since then, aside from pursuing his literary goals, he has worked as a high school counselor and Spanish teacher in San Diego, an English Professor at El Paso Community College in El Paso, Texas and is currently Associate Professor of Chicana/o Studies at Mesa College. Manuel’s work has appeared in various publications including Raza Spoken Here Vol. 1, Many Mountains Moving, and Puerto del Sol.  He is the winner of the 1996 Pellicer-Frost Binational Poetry Prize and the author of Bus Stops and Other Poems, published by Calaca Press in 1998.  Calaca Press also published La Calaca Review, an anthology of Latina/o voices edited by Manuel. He is currently chair of Chicana/o Studies at San Diego Mesa College.

His poem, “A farmworker offers advice to hummingbird flying among the grapevines” appeared on the site on July 31, 2015:

Manuel 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 — Manuel Velez

Manuel Velez was inspired by the July dis•articulations prompts to write this poem:

A farmworker offers advice to hummingbird flying among the grapevines.

Never let them count the thrusts of your wings;
the sublte motions that stir in their minds
images of nightgowns floating across ballroom floors.

They’ll never see how each thrust tears away
at your body and weakens your soul.

Never let them see past your rainbow plumes;
the playful dance of colors that reminds them
of exotic pearls resting softly around their necks.

They don’t see that underneath the rainbow
lies the cold grey reality of a life spent at work.

Never let them measure the rhythm of your beating heart;
The soft vibrations that sing to them like a silent lullaby,
a serene moment of meditation.

They’ll never know that each beat is a growing
desperation for survival.

No, hummingbird, never let them see who you truly are;

A creature trapped in the monotony of labor.
A perpetual existence of constant movement.
A life whose dream is for only enough nectar
to survive another day.

Let them be mesmerized by your motions and captivated by your colors.
Let them believe that your true beauty is to be free.
Let them value that which least defines you
because it’s the only way they’ll find any value in you at all.

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.