December dis•articulations poem — Terry Wolverton


I rise from the bed of words
where we fuck in perverse ink,
tattoo the sheets gold and blue.
Words are little boats
on an ocean of sheets.
We spread our nets, dip in,
but words run wild;
we can never control their play.

By day, we are only women,
beasts with holes covered up,
our creations policed,
crushed by the dickheads’ sharp words,
flinching into the red sun.
Hush, they can overhear
our venereal warmth,
detect our ambrosial breath.

Around the fire at night,
we are children
writing on the sky,
tattooing horses in the dark.
I know the ancient stories
but you invented the stars.
Wherever we are,
it will never be quiet.

Listen. I will make a true hut
of words and never leave it.
You traffic in story,
tap it out on every sidewalk.
If it’s a predictable disease,
it’s not our fault.
It is the wind’s sure breath
that bothers the golden hours.



December Fevered Writing — Terry Wolverton

Collaborating poet Yvonne M. Estrada gave Terry four prompts. Terry spent 3 minutes practicing fevered writing on each prompt. She gave these segments back to Yvonne, who will use them to create a new dis•articulations poem.

In very simple English they call it good luck, as if the heavens were smiling down upon you, clearing the path with a sweep of angel wings, divesting all obstacles and keeping you from harm—no traffic tickets, no dog bites, no scaly rashes, no overdue bills. Instead there are flowers and trees and fluffy clouds and your favorite songs always on the radio and the woman you love never disappoints you and everyone admires you for you poems.

An exploration of the absurdity of our existence.
It’s more like a recipe—two parts “Can you believe it?” to one part “What the fuck.” Add a pinch of “God has a sick sense of humor.” There might as well be laughter, pee-your-pants laughter, because otherwise it is all too unbearable. So put on the clown shoes and hop into the tiny car. Bend over and rip the back of your drawers. Squirt yourself with a bottle of seltzer. Be the one who laughs so you’re not the one laughed at. In the end, it’s just a pie in the face.

We were lucky that our water tanks were filled before the electricity failed.
Because when the monsoons came they would have washed away the big screen TVs and the high tech exercise machines, but fortunately the earth had already swallowed them up in the big quake that triggered the meltdown at the nuclear plant. The cows were born sickly after that but we don’t eat cows in my country, so the loss of human life was minimal. We are so lucky that we know we’ll be reborn under better circumstances, that everything we see now is illusion.

Slow and patient centuries can grow to create structures hundreds of miles long. It’s like our story, hundreds of miles of words and images and memory, our history, our language, our culture—all a construction. If I blink my eyes it is gone and I’m journeying to a new world where it all looks different and if there is sky, I will call it something else and maybe it’s yellow instead of blue or maybe a color I can’t perceive in this current structure. Or maybe it’s music, or maybe I have no senses anymore but just know things via some other organ. Or maybe there is no “I’ but just one energy.

We invite and encourage readers to create their own poems based on the prompts and/or the fevered writing and post them in the comments section. The best poem we receive before the end of December will win a $25 prize. All poems we receive will be posted to the blog.

November dis•articulations poem — Terry Wolverton

At the beginning of the month, Terry gave collaborating poet Douglas Kearney four prompts. Douglas conducted fevered writing on each of the prompts and gave that back to Terry. From those words, Terry constructed this dis•articulations poem.


I came in with janky mojo,
head peppered with hard thoughts,
face painted with Kaiju’s blood,
skeleton in a spooky suit.

Who was that vampire in a red cape,
its song tracing through my pulse,
heckling my impatient choices,
talking shit about God?

When did I become a cold machine
that breathes frost and coughs dust?
My bone cage jumps
in the attic of my disappointment.

Lorca too was disappointed
in the magpie’s quick-like song.
My appendages cannot climb
to any honey pulse to fix it.

But egomaniacs love religion,
think it’s all about them.
Gods dance like insects in my head,
and cup my red-eyed soul.

End-times only a strobe-lit
boogeyman, just enough horror
that sometimes I look side-eye
through the flapping trees.

In the end, my fluid roots
the only curative to not bottom out.
I came in abuzz with janky mojo
and no hoodoo gonna take it back.

November Fevered Writing — Terry Wolverton

For our dis•articulations collaboration, collaborating poet Douglas Kearney gave Terry four writing prompts. Terry engaged in fevered writing with each of them and gave the results back to Douglas. These are the words he will use to construct his dis•articulations poem.

Crisco fried funk
I think of Crisco, white and bland in the can, its impassive face revealing nothing. Likely it has no thoughts, but heat it up and its complexion clears and it starts hopping in the pan, popping on the stove, splattering a little sting onto the cook’s unsuspecting skin. Drop in the funk, itself just an unformed wad of dough, and watch it begin to spin and brown and harden somehow, growing a toasty coat on the outside and a soft cake inside.

Only a partial relationship to reality
The philosopher said, “reality is agreement,” so I said goodbye to reality a long time ago. Once you cut yourself loose, there’s no turning back. You can’t even imagine how you got bamboozled into it in the first place. The imagination has no place in reality–it’s all about “what it is” rather than what it could be. Living in possibility requires adaptation to a cooler kind of light, a thinner oxygen. Your survival is not guaranteed. But you begin to love that edge, the tipsiness of every day.

Vulgar yet weirdly graceful
People have a lot of contempt for this kind of woman. They want her to be more like a butterfly, less like a baboon. They want her to wear little slips of dresses and not get her hands dirty, to tiptoe about on the thinnest heels, not to ground her soles into Mother Earth. They want her to pretend she has no body, that her body belongs to them and she may not enjoy it. She’s not supposed to acknowledge her slash, her gash, her split in the universe through which light enters.

The infantilization of people of color and women,
and the women who are people of color are the most babied of all, but not babied in the Western post-industrial middle class model of doting and spoiling and commodifying, no, more like the pre-capitalist model of property, like livestock. Like infanticide. No one is dressing us up in doll clothes and fussing over us. No, we are dragged by the hair and beaten until our cries no longer disturb their sleep. Who’s your daddy, they ask, but we’ve learned better than to answer, our mouths sewn shut, our tongues snipped out.

Readers are encouraged to write poems in response to the prompts or to the fevered writing. The best Reader Poem we receive in November will win a $25 prize. All poems submitted will be posted to the blog.

October dis•articulation poem — Terry Wolverton

For our collaboration, Terry gave collaborating poet Ramón Garcia four writing prompts. Ramón engaged in fevered writing with each of them and gave the results back to Terry, who then used the words from that fevered writing to create this dis•articulations poem.


Gertrude Stein comes back from the dead
to ask what it is like without you.
Is she the ghost, or is it me?
Words ring out from the black sky
of her face, sound like a song
telling the geography of death,
a place beyond the thousand walls.

Einstein comes back with a black cat;
I ask him its name. He says
her name is Michiko and she comes
from the gutters of the after life.
Her language is unknown to some
but when I sound out the rhythms,
I know she is calling for help.

Without you I am without the root.
The beach is ghostly. There’s a hole
in the sky that weighs on me.
People say let her be, but I cannot.
Beyond the mask I have no face,
only the songs I will never write.
Of all the names, I call just one.

October Fevered Writing — Terry Wolverton

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

No on can be slain in absentia or in effigie.
I disagree. The night is long and one can die a thousand deaths at the hands of others’ imaginations. How they slaughter me–those who believe I have wronged them and those who envy something in my house, those who dispute my politics and those who have an ancient feud with my ancestors. All night long, I stagger and fall, rise again only to succumb to poison or bullets, fire or gossip. I am slain.

These first three steps are the acceptance steps.
The recovery cha-cha is a new dance craze but I am tripping over my feet again, stumbling across the floor, looking for my partner who is passed out on the bandstand. Her vomit cakes my new shoes, but still I make the moves–one-two-three and one-two-three, and my nose is shiny with the effort and no one is looking at me. I used to love to dance, a little girl in a tutu and everyone would smile but those days are over and now the music sounds like a machine that’s breaking.

Narcissus, the solitary, is the very image of the adolescent.
Why would they make it take so long before our brains develop? Why would someone engineer a being who was capable of reproducing long before its brain could make a good decision? Has something gone haywire with the food we eat or the water we drink or the chemicals we ingest? Are we developmentally delayed? Maybe we need to remain solitary until our brain catches up to our hormones.

Bloom is aware of conspicuous omissions.
What is the awareness of a bloom? Science tells us plants sense when another plant is in trouble and they send out shoots in that plant’s direction. They try to help. This means plants are sentient, another blow to our pathetic theories of superiority. Plants will be around to clean up the mess after we blow it all up.

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 October will win a $25 prize.

September Fevered Writing — Terry Wolverton

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

Baby may dangle temporarily but sooner or later they float up into the air and hover over the city in their brightly colored layettes like balloons accidentally loosed by a careless child. The babies are unafraid, being so high in the sky; they like having a view of everything—the tops of trees and the puffy clouds and the roofs of homes and the flag poles at the school they will never have to go to now. They speak with the birds and they speak to God. You can hear them crooning their little songs.

Hooker’s Manzanita
It has a bad reputation, but don’t judge. You don’t know what you would do if you were hungry or had gotten kicked out of the house or were addicted to drugs you had no money to buy. Why a hook, I always wonder? Is it because they supposedly lure you in? If anything, these women seem like the ones who are hooked, like fish once free in the river, then dangling by the mouth and bleeding. She liked to do it underneath the trees, the big old trees with spreading leaves.

Not by works of law because living things are subject to our own laws, directions of destiny and the expanse of spirit. You cannot pin us down or confine us to certain rooms or make us do things we don’t want to do. You can try, and you do try, and you have courts and police and judges and jails and armies but still you are unable to change the course of nature. The river will overflow its banks despite the concrete and the lover will do the hurtful thing despite promises and no matter how you press, we will escape.

Reflective light right side up
It’s said that Narcissus stared into the surface of the pool and glimpsed his own image. He lived in a time without mirrors and he thought it was another man he saw—a beautiful young man. He could not do anything then but spend his days gazing into the water, yearning for his object of desire, who always left him at night. How the moon teased him, giving him the merest suggestion of his beloved, shadowy and uncertain. Only the sun was faithful.

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 September will win a $25 prize.

August dis•articulations poem—Terry Wolverton

At the beginning of the month, Terry gave collaborating poet Sesshu Foster four writing prompts. Sesshu engaged in fevered writing with each of them and gave the results back to Terry, who then used the words from that fevered writing to create this dis•articulations poem.


A letter carrier in Koreatown
dreams of women, bodies dark as tobacco
dreams of resistance, of granite and flood.

The hour is apocalyptic.
Money and fire are killing us.

Union Station decaying, no train of thoughts
will leave this afternoon, no great distance will
be covered, now the terminal is burning.

We sought a damp, vacuous sleep.
We awakened to slavery.

In Mexico City, NY, LA— we’re
rolling through markets of the colonizers
surrounded by dead, Eurocentric thinkers.

Where do we exit this head space?
Where is the clock forgotten?

Across this continent females and males no
longer couple, busy themselves annexing
the lonely minutes, but there’s no where to park.

We no longer see the other
across canyons of sentiment.

Spanish broom rises over the mountains, but
we can’t drive there anymore, no vehicle,
no gas. No place not covered in black asphalt.

What is your vision worth to you,
already dispelling in clouds?

It’s the cumulus that leaves me furious.
Is this a prelude to light, or are we like
the thin dogs that wander the pitted highway?

We flit within parameters;
got a ticket but can’t take flight.

The letter carrier will not open this
hand-made letter to herself, delivered in
blue notes from her faded memory, her dreams.

August Fevered Writing — Terry Wolverton

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

Deceased poet
When the dead poets come to dinner I cover the floor in peanut shells. I lock the cat in the bedroom because someone is certain to be allergic. I serve similes as hors d’oeuvres and the glasses of absinthe glint green in the fading twilight. I can’t seat a formalist next to a symbolist, or the LANGUAGE poets next to anyone. Everyone appreciates the strict meter of the main dish, but I find Whitman poking around in my kitchen cabinets, looking for the table salt.

What cannot be written are the names of all the dead, the ones disappeared, buried in mass graves, those who entered the prison and never came out, who swung from trees, were dragged behind cars, raped and raped by so many men until nothing was left. And the ones who mourn them, search for them, who travel to the capitol demanding answers, the ones who offer prayers, the ones who die themselves, never knowing. These names would set the page aflame, and burn down the world.

You are a medical scientist. You have devoted your life to a search for answers. You believe there are answers. You have placed your faith in reason, in the intellect, in progress. You are convinced that once answers are found, life will improve. Some days you find yourself just enamored with the idea of being the one to find the answers, you and nobody else. Some days you practice your acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in the bathroom mirror before heading out to the lab. You believe anything is okay in pursuit of answers.

Wire hangars on a bar in the closet. They’re like a group of men jostling elbows at a bar. The baseball game is on TV and the announcer’s voice reminds you of childhood. The beer in front of you is sweating in its glass and the darkness heals the pain of the outside world—everyone rushing somewhere, doing things they imagine are important but which really mean nothing in the press of time. You order a hot pastrami sandwich, douse it in mustard, grab a handful of peanuts in the shell and let them crack in your giant hand.

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 August will win a $25 prize.

August Poetry Prompts

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

Terry Wolverton offered these prompts to collaborating poet Sesshu Foster:

Hell’s Zip Code (

Dreams Worth More than Money (album title, Meek Mill)

Slavery to Vegetables (

“I’m No Longer Afraid” ( cut)

Collaborating poet Sesshu Foster offered these prompts to Terry Wolverton:

CA Conrad (Soma)tic Poetry prompt: Pick any (soma)tic poetry prompt by CA, this was one I could find at

Confetti Allegiance
Is there a deceased poet who was alive in your lifetime but you never met, and you wish you had met? A poet you would LOVE to correspond with, but it’s too late? Take notes about this missed opportunity. What is your favorite poem by this poet? Write it on unlined paper by hand (no typing). If we were gods we wouldn’t need to invent beautiful poems, and that’s why our lives are more interesting, and that’s why the gods are always meddling in our affairs out of boredom. It’s like the fascination the rich have with the poor, as Alice Notley says, “the poor are more interesting than others, almost uniformly.” This poem was written by a human poet, and we humans love our poets, if we have any sense. Does something strike flint in you from the process of engaging your body to write this poem you know and love? Notes, notes, take notes.
The poet for me in doing this exercise is Jim Brodey and his poem “Little Light,” which he wrote in the bathtub while listening to the music of Eric Dolphy, masturbating in the middle of the poem, “while the soot-tinted noise of too-full streets echoes / and I pick up the quietly diminishing soap & do / myself again.” Take your handwritten version of the poem and cut it into tiny confetti. Heat olive oil in a frying pan and toss the confetti poem in. Add garlic, onion, parsnip, whatever you want, pepper it, salt it, serve it over noodles or rice. Eat the delicious poem with a nice glass of red wine, pausing to read it out loud and toast the poet, “MANY APOLOGIES FOR NOT TOASTING YOU WHEN YOU WERE ALIVE!” Take notes while slowly chewing the poem. Chew slowly so your saliva breaks the poem down before it slides into your belly to feed your blood and cells of your body. Gather your notes, write your poem.
Love Letter to Jim Brodey

  •                                                                         Dear Jim


    those whose

    acid trips were a success

    only twice

    I’ve met men who

    are high exactly

    as they are sober

    both became my lovers

    both died one like

    you died Jim he

    played music too

    loud at parties to

    gather us into a

    single frequency feel

    healed for the length

    of a song

    nothing works forever

    there was something in

    the air that year Jim

    and you put it there

    a rapt center in

    pivot looking

    to face

    love again

    learning to

    accept what’s offered

    without guilt

    to be reminded

    of nothing

    my favorite day not dragging

    the dead around

    they’re looking

    for Lorca in the Valley

    of the Fallen

    Franco’s thugs would understand

    “developing countries” means

    getting them ready for

    mining diamonds drilling oil

    teaching them to make a

    decent cup of coffee for

    visiting executives

    if I’m not going

    to live like this

    anymore I must will

    every cell to

    stand away

    the History of Madness

    725 pages is too much to

    not be normal

    scorn is very


    I’m vegetarian unless

    angels are on the

    menu mouth watering

    deep fried wings

    shove greasy bones in

    their trumpets

    the cost of

    scorn is

    often unexpected

    I see my fascist

    neighbor from downstairs

    “Did my boyfriend and

    I make too much

    noise last night?”

    his glare the

    YES that keeps

    me smiling

    1. a prompt from Bernadette Mayer’s famous list:

    * Write what cannot be written; for example, compose an index.

    1. a scientific one:

    Funding Medical Research

    • Role: medical scientist
    • Audience: prospective donors
    • Format: fundraising letter
    • Topic: contribute money for research
    • Strong Verb: persuade

    You are a medical scientist who is working to discover cures for different diseases. Your research requires special equipment and materials that are quite expensive. Write a fundraising letter to possible donors, persuading them to contribute money to your work.


    Greatest Scientist of All Time

    • Role: you
    • Audience: scientist from a past era
    • Format: written interview
    • Topic: the greatest contribution to science
    • Strong Verb: write and document

    You have the opportunity to travel in a time machine into any past era of history. Choose a date and place to meet the person who, in your opinion, has made the greatest contibution to science. Write out the interview questions you will ask this scientist and document his or her answers. You will publish your interiew when you return to the present.

    1. any prompt from jerome rothenberg’s Technician’s of the Sacred:

    (here’s one)

    Looking for a way to spark your writing with imagery? Here’s a great suggestion from Sheila Bender. Though the exercise is taken from her book Writing Personal Poetry, any writer can put it to use. Bender writes:

    Recently I was standing on a hillside I had looked at years ago from a window at a writers conference. At that conference, I learned a useful exercise from my teacher Robert Hass, who went on to become the United States poet laureate. At the time, he was studying various culture’s poetry using a book called Technicians of the Sacred. In Africa, he taught us, a tribe called the Bantu has an oral poetic tradition they exercise while working. One person says a line and, in the rhythm of the work, another answers with an assocaition that shows the likeness between two objects or perceptions. “An elephant’s tusk cracking” could get the response, “The voice of an angry man.” That day, I looked at the hillside, saw wind in the grass and wrote, “Wind through the grass,” and answered with the line, “I have the feeling you have written.” Here are two-line bantus that students of mine have written in response to this exercise:

    Wire hangers on a bar in the closet

    Wild geese walking by a lake

    Children in a circle on the floor

    The beaded necklace

    Lizard rustles the jasmine leaves

    Father turning pages of “The Sunday NY Times”

    The full moon at midnight

    China dinner plate in a dark kitchen

    Write your own bantus, as many as you can. Try to evoke experiences of sound, taste and smell as well as touch and sight. This exercise is very much like metaphor and simile, but you are free of the need to make images grammatically correct and the results can be haunting.

    We invite readers to write poems in response to one or more prompts (or the fevered writing that results from these prompts) and submit  in the Comments section. The best Reader Poem we receive by August 31 will be awarded a $25 prize.