This poem was written by Tanya Ko Hong using words generated by Terry Wolverton through fevered writing. Tanya’s comments on the process of writing the poem appear below.
The War Still Inside You
“For Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951-1982)”
Tonight my tongue cuts galaxy
black bones be fire
a crying cello drifting
if I open my mouth
I will be sent to the Taklimakan
Desert a graveyard
The silence of a thousand skulls
Nothing can live
My eyes a flame
I never talk about the battleground
My secret burns there
My silence is your mouth
My skull the house of story
My jaw hinges
devastation in a capsule
White man said
No one listens to you
No one sees
Open your mouth
Cut and burn my tongue,
You can’t set fire my secrets
My other tongue.
It will fly
I carry my eyes, my bones
through this war
No one is there
Statement About the Process
1. Writing guideline gave me freedom & discomfort at the same time.
2. I was obsessed about finding the ‘right prompts’ even though that I know there are not ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ prompts.
3. Fevered writing was amazing. I was focused and tense, I didn’t want to stop to write. I had layers and layers of idea for writing.
Fevered writing can be a great task when we have writer’s block.
My new motto: “Just write for 3 minutes.”
4. One of the best parts was inviting and encouraging other writers to write a poem and submit. What a joy to read the submitted poems!
5. Deadline was my fuel.
6. Thank you, Terry Wolverton for the invitation & collaboration. I loved each stage of the project.
This poem was written by Terry Wolverton using words generated by Tanya Ko Hong through fevered writing.
I am a foreigner in my own
country, a country that was never
mine. My people shot their way in, parked
their guns in the schoolyard, brought
gifts of fever and order, blueprint
of nation and shame. In our hunger
we swallowed nature, tasted its dried
blood on the ground.
We divided the
circle, took the biggest piece. Did not
ask or hear the answer. Made ourselves
forget the origins, invented
a language of dollars and rights,
our rights to steal the blind hours, ashes
of memory. If we think we are
geniuses, others know us as
We can never pay what we
owe, just buy more guns and documents.
We live on pink pills to stomach our
breakfast of leftover bone and tears.
Round up the children, who fear tigers,
not us; tell them there is no home here.
Accuse them of their bad teeth and hair;
remind them who has power, not them.
I am foreign
in a country that
was never mine. I dream the green wind,
a road, a door that will not open.
A fallen starfish in morning sun.