Announcing dis•articulations 2015

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This year, the dis•articulations project returns with a new spin: each month, I will invite another L.A. poet to collaborate with me; we’ll each exchange four prompts, do fevered writing in response to one another’s prompts, and then exchange the fevered writing to form the lexicon for our poems.

Readers will be invited to participate by writing poems inspired by the prompts, the fevered writing, or the poems themselves. All poems will be posted on the blog and each month one reader’s poem will be selected to win a $25 prize.

Please follow us at disarticulations2015.wordress.com.

To my readers and collaborators,

Yesterday’s post concludes the dis•articulations blog project, which began a year ago on Tuesday, January 1, 2013. Each week I have posted a new poem using the dis•articulations process. In a year of challenges, I’ve been so grateful for the discipline of this project; it has guaranteed that I maintained a consistent relationship to my creativity and this has been a saving grace for me.

To those who have been my collaborators—posting the prompts that each week jump started the writing process, or taking up the challenge to write and post poems of your own–you cannot know how grateful I am for your participation. I believe and have experienced the creative process to flourish in community, and I’m so happy to include you in my creative community.

For those who have been my readers: Some of you have made yourselves visible to me through leaving comments here or on Facebook, and it’s been wonderful to have this evidence that the work has been received, even appreciated. Others of you have remained quiet but steadfast recipients of these efforts, and I respect that. One of the prerogatives of the reader is privacy, and I’m grateful to you for allowing me to enter your mind each week, especially in such an idiosyncratic and elusive form.

The dis•articulations process was designed to disrupt my usual patterns of thought, of speech, of languaging by side-stepping intention and imposing a set of “liberating constructions.” There is no doubt that I have written phrases and lines and stanzas and even entire poems I would never have written using my regular mind. And yet I am curious to look back, now that I’ve reached this landmark, and see what I’ve written–what do they tell me as a body of work, what themes appear, what stylistic tics implanted themselves? I think there is still a lot for me to learn from this project, that could not be known before completion.

What’s next? That’s not apparent to me yet. I believe I will continue to utilize the dis•articulations process in my own poem making, but perhaps on a less regular schedule. I have some prose projects in mind, but I’m not certain where they will lead. Both with this blog project, and my previous blog, Wounded World, I have so enjoyed the direct interaction with readers that doesn’t come from print publishing, so I’m guessing there will be another blog project in my future. Its nature is part of the mystery yet to be revealed.

Sending you much love and wishes for a vibrantly creative 2014.

Terry Wolverton

December 31, 2013

THE POEM:

JARS OF ALWAYS

Around the auric fields of angels, threads
of frayed, pale light may evidence wounds from
interventions in matters of the world.

Across table, you harbor a shaman’s
presence. My eyes on bottom of the dish
your tongue has stirred as if it were my skin.

Between the dirt of the world and moon’s light
our fingers try but cannot quite hold on
to any essence that is not finite.

From head to hands, I’m a bad example,
always rolling, never listening, wrong
dog just waiting for divine escapades.

Until sounds of compassion coat my mouth
with shooting stars, I remain caught in my
pet worries, always terrible and new.

Through trouble we find mercy; through mistake
we apprehend. I can generate plans,
rules, but teeth consume time’s white hot slurry.

Before you leave, I will look for patterns
in the gems. They will tell me all I could
have done differently to treasure you.

THE PROMPTS
To apprehend and contain light – Sharon Venezio
Finger foods – Kathleen Brady
The sound of jeans being turned right side out again and what could have turned them wrong – Peggy Dobreer
Angels know there’s trouble but stay to help – Yvonne M. Estrada

THE FEVERED WRITING
To apprehend and contain light we have to catch it, but there is our mistake. We try to hold it in our hands or in our heads as if it were finite matter and we could keep it. But light makes its own rules, quite independent of our plans. It’s not a gem or a pet to be harbored and treasured. It is an essence available to anyone who takes the time to drink it in, through the eyes, through the skin, through the auric field. We can generate it too, not just consume it.

Finger foods. She always told me not to play with my food, but I would never listen. I liked to roll the brussel sprouts between my thumb and index finger, before shooting it across the table, where the dog’s mouth waited to catch it. I liked to scoop gooey mounds of peanut butter from the jar onto my tongue, roll it around for awhile until my teeth were coated with grit. I like to stir the ice cream into slurry, with a little hot fudge sauce, drink it from the bottom of the dish.

The sound of jeans being turned right side out again and what could have turned them wrong. When jeans turn bad, it’s a terrible thing. All those denim threads fraying, wearing away to a pale blue then white. Although interventions may be tried, they can really never be whole again. They will wear their wounds, as a badge of honor, they will always bring about these escapades, even as they set a bad example for the newer jeans. They think they’re going to live forever, and when they find out differently, it’s too late.

Angels know there’s trouble but stay to help. The shaman told me you were an angel for me, that your presence in my life is evidence of divine compassion and mercy. I think I am a lot of trouble, but you don’t leave. You remain, with your hands connected to the dirt, your eyes on the moon. My trouble makes you worried, but you stay. You teach me patterns of the stars. You photograph the world and invite me to look.

THE LISTS

NOUNS – light (2), mistake, hands (2), heads, matter, rules, plans, gem, pet, essence, time, eyes (2), skin, auric field, finger, foods (2), brussel sprouts, thumb, index finger, table, dog, mouth, mounds, peanut butter, jar, tongue, while, teeth, grit, ice cream, slurry, fudge, sauce, bottom, dish, sound, jeans (3), side, thing, denim, threads, interventions, wounds, badge, honor, escapades, example, angels (2), trouble (3), shaman, presence, life, evidence, compassion, mercy, lot, dirt, moon, patterns, stars, world

VERBS – apprehend, contain, have (2), catch (2), is (7), try (2), hold, were (3), could, keep, makes (2), be (4), harbored, treasured, takes, drink (2), can, generate, consume, told (2), play, would (2), listen, liked (3), roll (2), shooting, waited, scoop, coated, stir, turned (3), fraying, wearing, may, can, will (2), wear, brag, set, think (2), are, going, live, find, know, story, help, am, do not, leave, remain, connected, stay, teach, photograph, invite, look

ADJECTIVES/ADVERBS – finite, quite, independent, not (3), available, too (2), just, never (2), gooey, little, hot, right, out (2), wrong, bad (2), terrible, all, pale, blue, white, really, whole, even, never, late, divine, worried, always (2), before, where, again (2), when (2), away, then, although, forever, differently, that

PREPOSITIONS – to (15), in (4), as (3), if, of (8), through (3), with (4), between, across, from (2), onto, around, for (3), until, into, about, on

PRONOUNS – we (4), it (10), our (4), own, anyone, who, she, me (5), my (6), I (5), it (6), what, them, they (7), their (2), you (7), your (3)

ARTICLES – there (2), a (9), an (2), the (18), those

CONJUNCTIONS – and (8), but (6), or (2)

December 24, 2013

THE POEM:

SPILLED KEYS

Say we destroy the restless bed,
its seasick vistas of nervous
invention, our gestures that
crisscross the days in a long
meditation on time.

Say we’ve got separation
burned into our DNA,
the same as our ancestors,
those that caused the golden light
to wane, that gambled the stars.

Say the energy of our
of our little adventures
has spilled across the planet
China to Mexico
nothing without side effects.

We might not miss scorpions,
a dark source of sustenance,
when their time has passed, but some
day surely someone will want
the medicine of their sting.

We, fidgeting continents
this cloudy morning, wander
away from the dead bedroom,
as if this world were not mantra,
and each chanted phrase not love.

THE PROMPTS
Greet the light – Sharon Venezio
Criss-crossing the great Steppes – Kathleen Brady
Fidget – Matias Viegener
I dream swarms of golden scorpions flowing from my bedroom wall, flying – Alma Luz Villanueva

THE FEVERED WRITING
Greet the light. Each day I want to open myself to the heavenly phenomenon. I like to get up in the dark and say good morning to the stars, even the moon when she’s in her waning cycle. I like to be reminded I am made of this same energy, and feel a sense of my own vastness. In awhile, the sun will rise, perhaps after I’ve chanted my mantras and spent some time in mediation. On a cloudy day I might not see the sun at all, but still there will be light.

Criss-crossing the great Steppes. Someone’s ancestors must have done this and now this kind of adventure is in our DNA, that ability to explore, to wander and to climb, seeking out new vistas, nourishment, other civilizations. Too bad there’s also the conquering genes that got passed down too, but there was also trade, introducing one people to the resources and inventions of another. Think of all we’d miss if everyone had just stayed home. The medicine of China, the food stuffs of Mexico.

Fidget. She always shakes her foot, which jiggles her leg, which causes the bed to move. She doesn’t believe me when I say it makes me a little seasick, but I guess she can’t help it. She has spilkes – a Yiddish phrase that she translates as “spilled keys.” I hear these nervous gestures can burn a lot of calories. Susan had it too, the nervous energy, the restless legs. The side affects for the drugs for restless leg syndrome include excessive gambling and pedophilia. Surely it’s better to have spilled keys?

I dream swarms of golden scorpions flowing from my bedroom wall, flying. They’re on a mission to take back the world from those driven insane by greed and separation, so cut off from their source of life that they want to destroy all life – the air, water, food supply, and especially love. Nothing can flourish for long without it. They think their machines can sustain them on a dead planet, but the scorpions are in a squadron and they’re fanning out across the continents to take back the earth and sting us until we remember love.

THE LISTS

NOUNS – light (2), day (2), phenomenon, dark, morning, stars, moon, cycle, energy (2), sense, vastness, while, sun (2), mantras, time, meditation, Steppes, ancestors, kind, adventure, DNA, ability, vistas, nourishment, civilization, genes, people, resources, inventions, home, medicines, China, foodstuffs, Mexico, foot, leg (2), bed, spilkes, phrase, keys (2), gestures, lot, calories, Susan, legs, side effects, drug, syndrome, pedophilia, swarms, scorpions (2), bedroom, wall, mission, world, greed, separation, source, life (2), air, water, food supply, love (2), machines, planet, squadron, continents, earth

VERBS – greet, want (2), open, like (2), get (2), say (2), is (4), waning, be (2), reminded, am, made (2), feel, will (3), rise, have (3), chanted, spent, might, see, criss-crossing, must, done, explore, wander, climb, seeking, conquering, passed, was, trade, introducing, think (2), would, miss, had (2), stayed, fidget, shakes, jiggles, causes, move, does not, believe, guess, cannot, help, has, translates, spilled (2), hear, can (3), burn, include, gambling, dream, flowing, flying, are (3), take (2), driven, cut, destroy, flourish, sustain, fanning, sting, remember

ADJECTIVES/ADVERBS – earth, up, good, even, same, some, cloudy, not, all (3), great, new, other, too (3), bad, also (2), down, one, just, little, seasick, Yiddish, nervous (2), restless (2), excessive, better, golden, back (2), insane, heavenly, when (2), perhaps, still, now, that (3), always, which (2), surely, especially, so, long, dead

PREPOSITIONS – to (13), in (6), of (11), after, on (3), at, out (2), if, as, off, without, across, until, for (3), from (3).

PRONOUNS – I (10), myself, she (6), her (3), my (2), own, someone, our, another, we (2), everyone, me (2), it (5), my, they (3), by, their (2), nothing, them, they, us

ARTICLES – the (22), this (3), a (10), there (3), that, those

CONJUNCTIONS – and (10), but (4)

December 17, 2013

THE POEM:

AFTER PRAIRIE

We’ll make wildfire from the newspaper
and, as the culture burns, we’ll hear
ghosts whispering the winter wind,
wars unraveling through dark grasses,
mantras of oil and gold crackling
to cold sky, spreading ash over
fierce water. So many shot through
with holy dreams, even buffalo
transformed into Star People; they
whistle in the scorched fields, awake
and accustomed to jeweled flame.

Once we stirred hope in a bloody
kettle, consumed its spiced perfume;
that was before drugs imagined
our quiet end. The clock bubbles
on the stove; blankets throw themselves
to floor. Everything blackening
but you and I ignore the hard
sounds, the cat dancing against fear.
Perhaps we spill fire from our eyes,
wonder the scent of peppermint
gently folded inside old wool.

THE PROMPTS
Whispers spreading like wildfire – Kathleen Brady
Everything is awake – Elaine Howell
People are either for or against cilantro – Helen Yeoman
We had a cardboard fireplace; we had too many stockings for a cardboard fireplace – Yvonne M. Estrada

THE FEVERED WRITING
Whispers spreading like wildfire. Flames consumed the grasses of the quiet prairie and transformed the landscape, transformed the culture so accustomed to those harsh winters and the winds whispering through the cracks. Fire has a louder voice than the fiercest winds. We couldn’t ignore that sound. Forever after we would hear it in our dreams and know it meant the end of everything gentle, the hopes we once imagined of making a life in this ground dancing with the ghosts of buffalo.

Everything is awake. The clock is awake and the mantra has opened its eyes and the kettle is whistling and the shower is streaming and the towels have jumped from their racks and the Star People are calling good morning from the cold dark sky and the newspaper has landed on the driveway and the cat is eating her breakfast and the flame on the stove has popped on and even the soup is bubbling and the lunch is folding itself in the lunch box and the blankets have thrown themselves to the floor and eventually you too will stir.

People are either for or against cilantro and I can only hope they will not go to war over it. People have gone to war over gold and land, over water and over oil. They have gone to war over precious jewels and over holy books, but perhaps they have not yet waged war over herbs. But no, there is the war on drugs, fields of marijuana burned, many jailed, many shot dead, so I fear we might go to war over cilantro, bloody battles fought on the guacamole fields.

We had a cardboard fireplace; we had too many stockings for a cardboard fireplace. And when those stockings burned, as they inevitably would, they smoldered with the scents of peppermint and cinnamon and Old Spice and Love perfume. The wrapping crackled inside the scorched toes and hard candies spilled from the heels, wool unravelling to ash in the flames. The cardboard blackened and curled before toppling over on its side and you wondered what Santa was going to do.

THE LISTS

NOUNS – whispers, wildfire, flames (2), grasses, prairie, culture, winters, winds (2), cracks, fire, voice, sound, dreams, end, everything (2), hope, life, ground, ghosts, buffalo, clock, mantra, eyes, kettle, shower, towels, racks, star, people (3), sky, newspaper, driveway, cat, breakfast, flame, stove, soup, lunch, lunchbox, blankets, floor, cilantro (2), war (6), gold, land, water, oil, jewels, books, herbs, drugs, fields (2), marijuana, battles, guacamole, cardboard (3), fireplace (2), stockings (2), scents, peppermint, cinnamon, Old Spice, Love, perfume, wrapping, toes, candies, heels, wool, ash, side, Santa

VERBS – spreading, consumed, transformed, accustomed, whispering, has (4), could not, ignore, would (2), hear, know, meant, imagined, making, dance, is (8), opened, whistling, streaming, have (5), jumped, are (2), calling, landed, eating, popped, bubbling, folding, thrown, will (2), stir, can, hope, go (5), waged, burned (2), jailed, shot, fear, might, fought, had (2), smoldered, crackled, spilled, unravelling, blackened, curled, toppling, wondered, was do

ADJECTIVES/ADVERBS – quiet, so, hard (2), louder, fiercest, gentle, awake (2), cold, dark, even, eventually, too (2), either, only, not (2), precious, holy, many (3), dead, bloody, scorched, forever, once, perhaps, yet, when, inevitably, before, what, no

PREPOSITIONS – like, of (6), to (8), through, after, with (2), in (4), from (3), on (5), for (2), against, over (9), as, inside

PRONOUNS – we (6), our, it (5), their, her, itself, themselves, you, I (2), they (5), you

ARTICLES – the (35), those (2), a (4), that, this, there

CONJUNCTIONS – and (26), than, or, but (2), so

December 10, 2013

THE POEM:

PANDORA

She dares me to bury the tired clock,
empty its lungs of dust and spill our
chaos into ocean, where sweet
daylight goes under but does not die.

She comes to see me on my small green
boat; swimming before me, opens her
eyes deep under water and finds gold
waiting to be dug up from the core.

She knows I will drink her venom, fresh
in a crystal flute. Absinthe pooling
on a tongue trafficked in blame, black
its exploding vocabulary.

Or will my restless mind take apart
her lovely mouth? Then colors of
evil will be rubbed out of this world,
only a breath of love left for earth.

THE PROMPTS
We will die without Pandora’s box… – Alma Luz Villanueva
Gaseous orbs – Tonya Dietz
Down in the mine – Celeste Gainey
Belladonna – Susan Silton

THE FEVERED WRITING
We will die without Pandora’s box…. She’s locked it up and buried it under a banyan tree and now we have no one to blame for the evil that circulates in our brains and spills out our eyes and our black-tongued mouths. Such anger toward others – in the grocery aisle behind a cart that’s taking up the whole space, in the traffic, in the locker room at the swimming pool where I go for water aerobics, why is this venom inside me? Where does it come from? Who put it there?

Gaseous orbs are exploding in front of my eyes, my eyes don’t know if it’s happening inside me or outside me, I’m having more difficulty these days telling those things apart. Is the chaos in the world just a projection of the restless mind? Does anything outside even exist? Different kinds of gas make different colors but I don’t have the vocabulary of them. When I rub my eyelids I get different colors too.

Down in the mine there is no daylight, or rather it’s the same artificial daylight round the clock; there is no air either, no open your lungs and take a deep sweet fresh breath air. There’s only dust and grit of whatever ore they’re after, gold or coal or stuff to make microchips. What happens when everything is dug out of the earth? Does its empty core implode? And what will we use then to make all our stuff? Maybe in a million years it will all compact down again, recycle back into itself.

Belladonna is such a lovely poison. I see it pooled in a small crystal flute, green as absinthe. She is looking into the eyes of her lover, daring him to drink. Will he die for her? Is this the only way to prove his love? Or maybe she’s tired of him. Maybe there is someone else, someone off stage, waiting for the main to drink and keel over, so they can leave this room, get on a boat and cross the ocean before anyone finds out.

THE LISTS

NOUNS – mine, daylight (2), clock, air (2), lungs, breath, dust, grit, ore, gold, coal, stuff (2), microchips, everything, earth, core, years, Belladonna, poison, crystal, flute, absinthe, eyes (4), lover, way, love, man, room (2), boat, ocean, Pandora’s box, Banyan tree, evil, brains, mouth, anger, others, grocery, aisle, cart, space, traffic, locker, swimming pool, water, aerobics, venom, orbs, difficulty, things, days, chaos, world, projection, mind, anything, kinds, gas, colors (2), vocabulary, eyelids

VERBS – is (14), open, take (2), are, make (3), happens (2), dug, does, implode, will (4), use, compact, recycle, see, pooled, looking, daring, drink (2), die (2), prove, waiting, keel, can, leave, get (2), cross, finds, has, locked, buried, have (3), blame, circulates, spills, go, come, put, exploding, do not (2), know, am, telling, exist, rub

ADJECTIVES/ADVERBS – down (2), no (3), same, artificial, deep, sweet, fresh, only (2), out (3), empty, all (2), million, back, such (2), lovely, small, green, tired, else, offstage, over, up (2), black-tongued, whole, gaseous, front, more, rather, when (2), then, maybe (2), again, before, now, that (2), behind, where (2), why, who, different (3), apart, just, restless, even, too

PREPOSITIONS – in (8), around, of (9), after, to (4), into (2), as, for (4), on, without, under, toward, at, inside (2), from, if, outside (2)

PRONOUNS – it (9), your, whatever, they (2), what (2), we (3), our (4), itself, I (6), she (3), her (2), him (2), he, his, someone, anyone, no one, me (3), my (3), them

ARTICLES – the (18), there (5), a (8), this (3), these (1)

CONJUNCTIONS – or (5), either, and (9), so, but

December 3, 2013

THE POEM:

WHEREVER YOU ARE

Sometimes I feel I am performing for
your eyes as I move about the city,
waking on a train, crossing the alley,
surrounded by conversations of others
but wrapped in your song. I carry a blue
scrap of night in my mouth, like a hard seed
about to blossom in its morning bed,
its scent floating on my skin. I watch for
your face in a window, look for that light
beaming at me in the language of a
lost world. You’re not there, but I imagine
you on the corner when I turn, clothed in
the skirt of sun you gave me, sky singing
too, soaking me in great-hearted laughter.

THE PROMPTS
You must first become hopelessly lost – Sharon Venezio
Francisco – Sally Kitt
You don’t know me – Elaine Howell
There goes great-hearted laughing gas – LeVan Hawkins

THE FEVERED WRITING
You must first become hopelessly lost before you find out what the elephant means. Her agenda blossoms in the morning air and you could swear she’s speaking your language. She’s telling you – go find a yellow horned flower and carry it into your bed at night, let its scent soak into your dreams. You’ll wake up singing a song and in that song are seeds you can plant in the hard dirt of your life. Watch those seeds grow and they will tell you what to do next. Then, never forget me. Find a way to tell all the generations about your song and its seed.

Francisco lives on the other side of the alley. He has eyes that seem to contain the night sky. Wherever he goes he seems surrounded by a cloak of stars. He says he used to have a mother, but something happened. He carries a scrap of blue. His dad sharpens knives on the corner; the ladies of the neighborhood bring him wrapped bundles and he plies the grinding stone all afternoon. His clothes are covered in a fine grit that settles on his skin too. Francisco dreams of trains.

You don’t know me but you want to. Your eyes watch me when I cross the street. Sometimes I feel I am performing for your eyes, self-conscious about my movements in the city. Sometimes I think you’re there when I enter the bookstore, or come out of the theater, or stop to admire a skirt in a shop window. Sometimes I think you’re there when I turn down the sheets at night. I try to imagine how you see me, and what you think of me. Do you invent me in your mind, as I invent you?

There goes great-hearted laughing gas. Just looking at her face makes me smile. Hearing the words from her mouth makes me chuckle. Having a conversation sends me into peals of laughter, snorting and spitting and choking on giggles and guffaws. That girl gives me asthma, but I won’t stay away. It’s like I’m on a cloud, floating above the world, light and buoyant in the blue air. Her heart is the sun, golden and beaming on me, and I cannot stop laughing.

THE LISTS

NOUNS – elephant, agenda, morning, air, language, flower, bed, night (3), scent, dreams, song (3), seeds (3), dirt, life, way, generations, Francisco (2), side, alley, eyes (3), sky, cloak, stars, mother, something, scrap, dad, knives, corner, ladies, neighborhood, parcels, store, afternoon, clothes, grit, skin, trains, street, movements, city, bookstore, theater, skirt, shop, window, sheets, mind, gas, face, words, mouth, conversation, peals, laughter, giggles, guffaws, girl, asthma, cloud, world, air, heart, sun

VERBS – must, become, find (3), means, blossoms, could, swear, is (4), speaking, telling (3), go (3), carry (2), let, soak, will (2), wake, singing, are (4), can, plant, watch (2), grow, do (2), forget, lives, has, seem (2), contain, surrounded, says, used, have (2), happened, sharpens, bring, plies, grinding, covered, settles, dreams, do not, know, want, cross, feel, am (2), performing, think (3), enter, come, stop (2), admire, turn, try, imagine, see, invent (2), laughing (2), looking, makes (2), smile, hearing, chuckle, sends, snorting, spitting, choking, gives, care not (2), stay, floating, beaming

ADJECTIVES/ADVERBS – first, lost, out (2), yellow, horned, up, hard, next, never, all (2), other, blue, wrapped, fine, too, self-conscious, down, great-hearted, just, light, buoyant, blue, golden, hopelessly, before, then, that (2), wherever, when (3), sometimes (3), there (2), how, away

PREPOSITIONS – in (8), into (3), at (3), of (9), to (7), about (2), on (6), by, for, as, from, like, above

PRONOUNS – you (7), what (3), her (4), she (2), your (5), it (4), they, me (11), he (7), his (3), him, you (8), your (3), I (12), my

ARTICLES – the (20), a (11), that (2), those, there

CONJUNCTIONS – and (13), but (3), or (2)

November 26, 2013

THE POEM:

WISDOM COOKIE

Have I fallen and spilled into
this killing future, roof of the world
torn away, body just an empty
house where wind walks over
rafters of bone? Creatures masquerading
as people, lumps of flesh with broken
mouths and no rhythm. We’ve made it

to the end of consequences, sit
on a wedge of destiny never
foretold. Starved for sugar we
cannot appreciate the sound
of trees. Honeybees are holy,
but we’ve forgotten their fate.
Out on this unintended highway,

you reveal the law of rage as
a spiritual teaching. I ignore
all clues, try to save nothing.
The debris of knowledge means little
now, kept as it is inside the smashed
surf shops; still a person will pretend
to drown when summer does not come full on.

THE PROMPTS
Ignore previous cookie – J. Michael Walker
The Barcelona Chair sound – Constance Kim
A flytrap full of honey bees – Elaine Howell
My house was broken in seconds – Allison Joseph

THE FEVERED WRITING
Ignore previous cookie because that cookie lies. It pretends to know what’s in store for you but it doesn’t have a clue. It’s just a lump of flour with a little sugar inside, nothing but empty colors masquerading as some kind of wisdom, but real wisdom doesn’t come in a cookie. For that you need pie. An apple pie brings you knowledge of your future. Each wedge reveals an aspect of your destiny. You can try to drown it out with whipped cream but still your fate will be foretold.

The Barcelona Chair sound. It was all the rage that summer. Everywhere you went you’d hear it blasting out of speakers in bars and restaurants, in surf shops, and grocery stores. Even people who’d never been to Barcelona swore that sound was so authentic. Even those who’d never sat in a chair were grooving to the rhythms of plush leather. It was a sound that made you forget your Catholic upbringing, that made you think of walking along the Mediterranean with a great tan.

A flytrap full of honey bees. This is the law of unintended consequences. Trying to eliminate a pest I end up murdering a creature I’m trying to save. These bees, without which we will starve, no pollination. A spiritual person knows there is no distinction, killing is killing, and when you do it there is just more death in the world. Those flies are as holy as the honeybees, even if I can’t appreciate them. That’s what the bees meant to teach me.

My house was broken in seconds and I felt my body was broken too, as if the rafters were my bones giving way to that big wind, as if the flesh were torn away as the roof had been. Now it feels like the whole world is smashed, nothing but debris as far as I can see. The trees have fallen like teeth from my mouth, spilled over the highway. Everything I’d kept has flown away, and from now on I will keep nothing, boxes and boxes of nothing.

THE LISTS
NOUNS – flytrap, honeybees (3), law, consequences, pest, creature, pollination, person, distinction, death, world, flies, house, seconds, body, rafters, bones, way, wind, flesh, roof, world, nothing (4), debris, trees, teeth, mouth, highway, thing, boxes (2), cookie (3), store (2), clue, lump, flour, sugar, calories, kind, wisdom (2), pie (2), apple, knowledge, future, wedge, aspect, destiny, whipped cream, fate, Barcelona (2), chair (2), sound (3), rage, summer, speakers, bars, restaurants, surf shops, grocery, people, rhythms, leather, upbringing, Mediterranean, tan

VERBS – is (8), trying (3), eliminate, end, murdering, am, save, will (3), starve, knows, killing (2), do, are, cannot, appreciate, meant, teach, was (5), felt (2), were (3), giving, torn, had (4), been (3), smashed, can (2), see, have (2), fallen, spilled, kept (2), has, flown, ignore, lies, pretends, know, does not (2), masquerading, come, need, brings, reveals, drown, foretold, went, would, hear, blasting, snore, sat, grooving

ADJECTIVES/ADVERBS – full, unintended, up, no (2), spiritual, just (2), more, holy, even (3), broken (2), too, whole, far, over, every, previous, little, empty, some, real, each, out (2), all, never (2), so, authentic, which, there, when, away (2), now (2), still, everywhere, that (2), plush, Catholic, great

PREPOSITIONS – of (10), to (8), without, in (7), as (8), if (3), like (2), from (2), on, for (2), with (3), inside, along

PRONOUNS – I (7), we, you (9), it (9), them, what (2), me, my (4), your (4), who (2)

ARTICLES – a (11), this, the (16), those (3), there, that (5), an (2)

CONJUNCTIONS – and (6), but (5), because

November 19, 2013

THE POEM:

CHANCE

Could I forgive my head its irregular lumps,
the times bones rattled beneath unsympathetic fingers?

Could I forgive the household shaking me to faded ribbons,
the strong door keeping me inside?

Could I forgive sunset for killing light,
red and lost at the intersection of impossible seasons?

Could I forgive the path that shed its once glad destination?

Could I forgive the sky that veers closer
to witness the emporium of tears?

If not, what will I give to her?
Wrapped parcel of lost morning.
A star-shaped jar of clouds.
My pink skull hanging in the cinnamon tree.

THE PROMPTS
Green the light – Sharon Venezio
The path that always moves – Yvonne Estrada
Her skull hangs on the front door – Elaine Howell
Emporium of Nutty Parcels – Kathleen Brady

THE FEVERED WRITING
Green the light. The light turned green but I wasn’t ready to move. I wanted to sit in the car at this intersection and stare at the morning sky all pink light against ripples of clouds. I wanted to sit and drink in the moment, may be shed some tears weeping about some lost place opening me like a crevice but the cars behind me were unsympathetic and were not afraid to let their horns express that. When I looked in my rearview mirror, the man in the truck behind me seemed to be yelling something. I was glad I couldn’t hear what it was.

The path that always moves. I keep thinking I’m getting closer as I put one foot in front of the other but in fact I think I’m going in circles. The path that seems to lead straight ahead in fact keeps veering off in unexpected directions. If I had a destination in mind at one time, I’ve lost all sense of that now – I don’t know if this oak tree is the same one I’ve passed several times before or if there are many such trees on this path. It seems there have been many sunrises and sunsets, perhaps even changes of seasons.

Her skull hangs on the front door by a hank of her red hair. It’s faded now, of course, but still strong enough to hold the bones of what was once her head. She’s good for scaring away the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the children selling candy for their school. I think she might be pleased to have such a prominent place in the household – if she could forgive me for ending her life. She might have killed me too, if she’d had the chance. So now I give her a place of honor and that will have to do.

Emporium of Nutty Parcels with gleaming countertops and jars of colorful treats. The packages are wrapped in bright paper with streaming ribbons but it’s impossible to know what’s inside. The shapes are intriguing – round and star-shaped, hexagonal and irregular lumps – but provide no clue to their contents. Some will rattle when I shake them, some squish beneath my probing fingertips. Some are scented cinnamon and others smell like fried chefs.

THE LISTS
NOUNS – skull, door, hank, hair, course, bones, head, Jehovah’s Witnesses, children, candy, school, think, place (3), household, life, chance, honor, emporium, parcels, countertops, jars, treats, packages, paper, ribbons, shapes, lumps, clue, contents, fingertips, cinnamon, others (2), cheese, light (3), car (2), intersection, morning, sky, ripples, clouds, moment, tears, crevice, horns, mirror, man, truck, something, path (3), foot, fact (2), circles, directions, destination, mind, time (2), sense, oak, tree (2), sunrises, sunsets, season

VERBS – hangs, is (5), hold, was (4), scaring, selling, might (2), be (3), have (6), could, forgive, ending, killed, had (3), give, will (2), do (2), are (4), wrapped, know (2), intriguing, provide, rattle, shake, squish, probing, scented, smell, turned, green, move (2), wanted (2), sit (2), stare, drink, shed, weeping, opening, were (2), let, express, looked, seemed (3), yelling, could, heave, keep (2), thinking (2), am (2), getting, put, going, lead, veering, lost, passed, changes

ADJECTIVES/ADVERBS – front (2), red, faded, still, strong, enough, good, pleased, such (2), prominent, too, nutty, gleaming, colorful, bright, streaming, impossible, round, star-shaped, hexagonal, irregular, no, fried, green, not (4), ready, now (3), once, away, when (2), maybe, that (2), always, perhaps

PREPOSITIONS – on, by, of (10), to (11), for (3), in (7), if (5), with (2), inside, beneath, like (2), at (3), against, about, behind (2), as, in (5), ahead, before, on

PRONOUNS – her (5), it (4), what (3), she (5), their (3), I (10), me (4), some (3), them, my (2), I (8), one

ARTICLES – the (20), a (5), that (3), this (3), there (2)

CONJUNCTIONS – but (6), and (10), so, or